Art of change
Local authors suggest strategies for reinvention
Are you at a place in your life or career where you’re constantly asking yourself, “Is this all there is?” If the answer is yes, then Anne Marie Smith and Michelle Gamble-Risley may have some worthy advice for you about the art of change in the pages of their new book. SN&R caught up with the local authors of Second Bloom: 10 Steps to Reinvent, Rejuvenate and Realize a New Life to ask a few questions.
Both of you have a story about a time in your life when you decided “Enough! It’s time to make a big change.” Can you briefly describe?
Michelle Gamble-Risley: The last two years, working in the corporate world became more and more difficult. I always loved my career, but my personal work relationships became challenging. I’m sure the difficulties stemmed from my own emotional shift, as I became less tolerant of the typical corporate politics. At the same time, I gave birth to my youngest child. It was crazy to work 50- to 60-hour weeks and lose out on that precious time with my daughter, time you never get back. So, between the corporate nonsense and the need to be a better mother, I slowly came to the conclusion I had to make a change.
Anne Marie Smith: I owned a technology-related business for 10 years and no longer felt challenged or motivated. More importantly, I was no longer having fun, which is a core value of mine. I woke up every day having to force myself to go into work. The problem, however, was that I was tied to the business financially as well as emotionally. I felt stuck. I knew I needed to make a change but didn’t know how and didn’t know “what to be” next. I then met a gentleman who worked with me to create a written plan to sell and exit my business. Within four months, I was free!
What pushed you over the line to go ahead and make the change?
Gamble-Risley: My last boss wrote me a nasty e-mail; she was famous for writing nasty e-mails. I read it to my husband who happened to be in the room at the time. He said, “I’ll give you $30,000 if you’ll quit now!” I did and never looked back.
Why is change so scary?
Smith: It’s different for everyone, but generally change is scary because it means getting out of our comfort zones. We are by nature creatures of habit. We like to stay in control.
What simple changes do you recommend to people who want to alter their path?
Gamble-Risley: I recommend, start small—take baby steps. If you want to change jobs, dust your résumé off and update it. If you want to start a business, start saving a certain amount of money each month until you have enough to quit your job. If you want to divorce your spouse, start looking for a divorce attorney. If you want to find a new relationship, start looking for a great Internet dating service.
In your book, Second Bloom, you say women should listen to their inner voices for direction when it comes to change. Can you describe what you mean?
Smith: Your inner voice is the essence of who you are. It’s your intuition—that gut feeling. We are taught from an early age to be practical and to “use our heads” instead of listening to our hearts, bodies and souls. But when you face significant questions, such as “What do I really want?” or “What decision should I make?” you need to ask and listen to your inner voice for the real answer.
Is change tougher for women or men?
Gamble-Risley: I think change is tough, period. I just think that society gives men more permission to take risks. Women are taught to be nurturers and caretakers and to consider others before themselves.
Why do you think it’s important that people “identify their values” before they make a change?
Smith: Because if you are going to spend your time, effort, stress and perhaps money on a change, you need to assure yourself that the change is in alignment with your core values. If you don’t, you’ll end up back where you started, that is, wanting to make a change. And we all know there is nothing worse than an endless, vicious cycle.
Oftentimes, change involves learning new skills or going back to school. Do you have recommendations about doing that later in life? Any tips?
Gamble-Risley: Of course! If you want to find a new career, no matter how old you are, then go back to school. Take the first initial steps by getting your application filled out or signing up for a class. A friend of mine became a certified therapist at age 50. She loved it and found higher education the second time around far more rewarding. Your priorities change when you’re older—and sometimes for the better.
What do you mean when you write that people must “choose their allies” carefully?
Gamble-Risley: The sad truth is not everyone has your best interests at heart. They might feel scared your change will move you further away from them. Maybe they’re jealous because they want to make a life change, but they’re too frightened. True allies provide valuable and important support and guidance as you go through your change. Allies are your cheerleaders.
What’s been the response to the book so far?
Gamble-Risley: When we hit the right demographic—women in need of life change—the reaction is disarming. These women have a tremendous hunger and thirst for this knowledge!
Smith: It has exceeded our hopes!