Career jail is a very real place. It's not a physical place, but rather a mental one - created, maintained, and locked by you. You have the power to lock the door as well as unlock your cell and let yourself free.
As the spokesperson for Caring.com and as an author, I spend quite a bit of time being interviewed by radio hosts across the country. Once the interview is over, many ask me to stay on the phone. Why? It is usually some variation of, "How did you get out?"
For twenty plus years, I was on the other side of the microphone as a rock radio personality. I interviewed some of the world's greatest rock stars and other celebrities. Leaving radio was not easy; I really didn't think I could do anything else. Fortunately, I was kicked out of the nest and forced to discover I could do other things in this world for a living. Since that time, I've had several careers - ecommerce, public relations, author, keynote speaker, consultant, social media advisor, voiceover artist - the list goes on. I have learned so many lessons and met so many people along the way. I was so scared when I left radio and I could not be happier or more fulfilled now. It took hard work but it can be done.
Here are nine things you can start doing now, in no particular order, to help you break out of your self-imposed career jail:
1. Focus on what it is you want to do. Have a plan or at least some sort of idea as to what it is you really want to do - create a product, consult, write, offer a service, open your own shop. What do you really want to do to make a living? Without a goal, what's the point of this exercise?
2. Get your finances in order. It took Wonder Husband and me seven years to pay off our debt and save a bit of money so I could strike out on my own.
3. Quit worrying about what other people think. Don't worry; no one will think you re a loser. Just the opposite. They'll be jealous you figured out "how to escape" career jail and create an amazing life for yourself.
4. Dress for the job you want. Do you look like the person you want to be? Start dressing and carrying yourself the way you want to be seen in the future.
5. Follow the people you want to be on Twitter or on their blogs if they have one. Read their posts and read their tweets. After you get a feel for what they do - retweet, comment, and become a part of the conversations.
6. Connect with and follow companies in the industry you want to be in on LinkedIn. Sign up for company updates through their websites. Educate yourself on where you want to be.
7. Go to industry events, happy hours, and conferences. Be in the room where it happens.
8. Most industries and companies have favored charities they support. Volunteer at these charities. It will put you side-by-side with industry leaders as well as company employees and even company upper management.
9. Read everything you can get your hands on. News, current events, pop culture, sports, religion, international affairs, company reports, and industry news. You should be reading at least an hour every day to educate yourself.
Don't wait for someone else to free you from career jail. No one else can do this for you. Start the effort. Is it a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? Oh yes.
Unlock your career jail. Open the door. Walk out. And breathe.
Dayna Steele is the creator of the 101 Ways to Rock Your World book series and a popular keynote speaker with her true Rockstar Stories. She is also working to bring Alzheimer's awareness to all ages. www.daynasteele.com