Life & Business

10 Tips for Transitioning Careers Quickly

by Garrett Fleming

10 Tips for Transition Careers Quickly, Design*Sponge

Three years ago, I was working as an art director at an ad agency. The hours were long, the clients were picky and internal dramas were aplenty. It was then that I realized I wanted something new. I’d always had an interest in interior design, and home styling was a field I wanted to crack into, but I wasn’t sure how to pursue this passion and make it something worthwhile.

As luck would have it, I came across a post on Design*Sponge mentioning Grace’s hunt for writers to cover the site’s home tours. Without any writing experience, but with a burning will to get the job, I applied, staying up until the wee hours of the morning mocking up what my pieces would look like within the site’s design. Luckily, that little extra touch worked. I not only got the job, but the process taught me a valuable lesson: to go for something you want wholeheartedly and to not simply choose a new path, but blaze a new trail.

Taking a risk and going for it is something interior designer Magalie René-Hayes is familiar with as well. After years working in another field, she flipped the script and opened her own design firm. It wasn’t easy, and thoughts of self-doubt often plagued her as they did me, but over time she hurdled over obstacle after obstacle. In the end, she found herself doing the work she was always meant to, designing homes from California to Virginia.

Magalie’s career transition worked out so well, we had to know her secret. How’d she do it? How’d she handle the mental stresses that come with such a huge change? How’d she find the confidence to take the plunge? She answers all that and more with her 10 Tips for Transitioning Careers Quickly. Click through to check them out. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of  Magalie René-Hayes

I found my calling when 30 under 30 was a tiny speck in my rear view mirror. On the one hand it was a celebration to have finally figured out what I wanted, and I was excited to embrace it. On the other, feelings of self-doubt started creeping in as I reflected on having already had a career (or three, but who’s counting).

It was frightening to think I’d stumbled upon my passion too late, and I was discouraged by what I thought might be a long, arduous road to my new career goals. The good news is it wasn’t nearly as long [of] a road as I’d anticipated. My business, now in its fourth year, has taught me it’s never too late to pursue your dream. If you’re considering a career transition but fear your moment has passed, believe me, the possibility exists to find yourself at the helm of your purpose. And way faster than you may think. –Magalie René-Hayes

1. Give yourself credit for what you’ve already accomplished: Even if you’ve never done a single thing in life that relates to your newfound passion, you have been successful, and you can do it again. Challenge yourself to jot down a few achievements of which you are particularly proud, and remind yourself that you accomplished those things back then so you can surely learn to do this now.

2. Believe in the power of the shortcut: Not all shortcuts are taken by cheaters who want to avoid hard work. Know who else takes shortcuts? Smart people. If there’s a quicker path that leads to the same outcome, take it as long as it’s ethical. There’s no rule that [says] success and achievement have to take a lot of time. It requires passion and determination, and you’ve got both of those in spades.

3. There’s honor in mastery: Credibility, respect and confidence are at their peak when one truly understands and masters a craft. The value you’ll bring to clients and the income you’ll be able to demand are worth the long hours and hard work.

10 Tips for Transitioning Careers Quickly, Design*Sponge

Image above: Magalie hangs some finishing touches in a Virginian client’s home. Magalie says her personal style “leans towards clean lines and sophistication with an appreciation for color and joyful touches.” 

4. Don’t wait for mastery in order to begin: If you wait until you feel you’ve truly mastered your craft you may never begin. There’s always room to improve further, but the trick is simply to start. Take those first steps and push the boundaries of fear to apply your knowledge. The lessons you’ll learn while practicing your passion will go far in helping you master it. Learn by doing. Master by repeating.

5. Just say, “Yes!” and the universe will send help: When luck smiles down on you, embrace it. Don’t turn away an incredible opportunity because you don’t have enough experience. Take a chance and say “Yes!” even if you don’t feel quite ready. You’ve discovered your purpose. Don’t wait another minute to go for it. You’ll find – or hunt down – help along the way.

6. Perfection isn’t possible: Seeking perfection in your results can cause you to quit too soon. Instead, find the value in what you create regardless of what the results look like. Rather than reaching for perfection, strive to beat your personal best consistently.

7. Embrace unconventional ways to learn: In our modern, technologically-advanced society, there are as many ways to learn online as there are offline. Try these routes for mastering your career goals:

  • Take online courses on YouTube, Lynda, Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare, etc.
  • Schedule informational interviews
  • Join or create a Facebook group
  • Attend industry meet-ups
  • Attend conferences, workshops, seminars and presentations
  • Join industry associations and follow experts in your field
  • Hire a friend or acquaintance to give you private lessons

10 Tips for Transition Careers Quickly, Design*Sponge

Image above: An eclectic cottage Magalie put together in West Hollywood, CA.

8. Get clear: Do whatever it takes to get centered and calm enough to hear your inner voice — whether that means meditating, taking up an exercise routine or starting a morning ritual like journaling. Listen to your intuition and work out any tempestuous feelings to get clear on your purpose and set your daily intention.

9. Time is a construct: Reframe [time] from something akin to a ticking bomb to something that supports you. Use the mantra “Freedom is Where My Feet Are,” to quiet the imaginary clock and bring you back to what you are creating in the now.

10. Trust yourself: Steps worth taking rarely feel safe, but risks are often necessary to live a life of passion. When you consider how short life can be, you realize there’s nothing to fear but the regret of not having tried. The biggest lesson of all is to trust yourself and go for it.

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  • This is so right on time I’m almost in tears! Thank you for these invaluable words of wisdom! I just had a pep talk with myself last night about trusting myself and going for what I want in life. I’m in this exact position right now (looking to change careers) and this is the affirmation is icing on the cake! Thank you!!!

  • Wonderful advice! I work in a fast paced environment and can relate to this. Especially with dealing with the demanding clientele.


  • This is a great article! I have been trying to start my blog for years, but I have been too afraid of doing so because I felt that what I can contribute is nothing compared to what is already out there, and so this advice is exactly what I needed to pursue the things I’ve wanted to do for a VERY long time!

    • Fantastic! So glad you’ve decided to move forward with your blog because someone out there is waiting to read it. As they say, there will never be another you – so whatever you choose to share will be unique.

  • This is so awe inspiring and wonderful. When I left my full time job to become a freelance designer, I was full of drive and ready to get going. I didn’t realize how crippling self doubt could be, until a few months in. I’ve slowed down significantly and this was the pep talk I needed. This isn’t a dress rehearsal for life! Time to get moving. Thank you Magalie!

  • Editorial point: please remove the “[of]” insertion in to Magalie’s text — her version without the “of” is grammatically correct, whereas the insertion is not.

  • I really need these encouraging words as I just started my blog a couple weeks ago after quitting my job. This is going to help me for moving forward.

  • This is a great ‘to do’ list, and I think that doing everything on #7 is super important. Adding to that “seek out an internship or job with a professional” would be beneficial because there’s nothing like working within the field to gain valuable insights and skills that you won’t get any other way. This might also result in establishing a mentorship with that pro–something that’s been proven to lead to success over those who try to do it alone.

  • Thank you so much. I lost my job in October and am searching for a new path. I have been fearing that my time has passed, and also frightened of what the future holds for me. It’s a lot of pressure and stress. Your words are like a balm, and give me hope.

    • I’ve absolutely been there and what I know for sure is:

      1. it’s NEVER too late
      2. a loss can be a blessing if we choose to shift the way we perceive it.

      Wishing you a new path that comes with speed and with ease.

  • Excellent work Magalie. This advise is right on time and profound! I’m very proud of you and can’t wait to collaborate with you on my next project.

  • Ruth Auguste: Very nice and nicely said; every tip, all of them whisper or ring bells but I love number 5, love love number 7 and love love love 8&9! Indeed, here’s to the conspiracies of the great universe that co-creates to support me all the time! Thank you for sharing, Magalie! Cheers to you!!!