Self-Motivation is Key to a Career Change

Self-Motivation is Key to a Career Change

Alexandra Levit

Wall Street Journal, Career Journal logo When 38-year-old Liz Pagliarini and her husband decided to adopt a baby girl, they felt instantly related to the child even though they were not her birth parents. It was this insight that led Ms. Pagliarini, who lives in Mission Viejo, Calif., in 2007 to launch OriginOne, a clothing line that promotes cultural unity.

But she, like many people, found that changing careers requires a large amount of self-discipline. That was especially true for Ms. Pagliarini, who was the chief financial officer of an investment bank in Beverly Hills at the time.

For a year, Ms. Pagliarini continued working while spending nights and weekends strategizing for her new business. "I was determined to make OriginOne a success," she says. "I tried to work during my daughter's naps and while she slept at night so that she could come first when we were together. I had to stay focused."

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One key to self-discipline is to adhere to a strict daily schedule. For her part, Ms. Pagliarini sets aside a block of time to accomplish each task, and when that period is up, she moves on. "I even schedule time to read email, because this is one of the most prevalent distractions we face today," she says.

According to Liz Strauss, a Chicago Web strategist who helps companies develop online programs, self-discipline is the drive to make things happen for yourself. And it doesn't come easily to everyone, especially in a poor economic climate where it's easy to play it safe. You'll need to work harder to boost your motivation and increase the likelihood of a successful career change.

Changing your career can seem overwhelming and can lead to mental paralysis. So, your first order of business is to take this complicated process and break it down into short, manageable tasks. "Start with something small," says Ms. Strauss. "Make one promise to yourself and keep it. It will instill confidence."

Self-discipline comes more effortlessly when you're genuinely enjoying what you're doing. But you should also realize that insisting on perfection will hinder your efforts to be more disciplined. If you decide not to take action until conditions are 100% ideal, you'll never get anywhere. Instead, it's most important to keep moving, even if it means doing a job that's just good enough.

Finally, high achievers tend to acknowledge accomplishments in others, but not in themselves. No matter how pressed for time you are, don't forget to reward yourself when you finish each task.

This article is reprinted by permission from, © Dow Jones & Co. Inc. All rights reserved.

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