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Starting Over Takes Courage Diligence

By Diane Dunton

Snorkeling wasn't an activity that I enjoyed. In fact, I always avoided it whenever the opportunity was presented. I am not talking about scuba diving. I am talking about snorkeling. You know, the mask, the mouthpiece, the flippers and all that is involved in the activity. I hated it.

I tried it a few times, but I always had the same results: no success. You see, I have asthma and I hate the mouthpiece, plus I am not a strong swimmer. About 10 years ago, I tried snorkeling while on a family vacation. We were out on a boat near a coral reef. I summoned up my courage, put the gear on, climbed down the ladder and plunged into the water. I really tried but with no success. I could not breathe! I could not manage the swimming with the breathing and the goggles and the looking into the water for fish. I couldn't see a thing. I quickly turned around and went back to the boat. "Never again," I thought. "Never."

Taking One Step at a Time

Last year, I decided to pursue swimming. I began in July and over the past nine months, I have built up my stamina for breathing as well as my strength. I can now swim a mile! This did not happen all at once but over time. I could not imagine being able to swim a mile when I first started. I had to work hard over the past months.

Facing Fears

With the ability to swim and feeling strong, I had another opportunity to try snorkeling. I decided I would try it again and put aside all of my past fears. I had in many ways been preparing for this by swimming. At first, I tried snorkeling in shallow water and I soon became comfortable with the equipment. Then, I booked an excursion to go out to a reef. Wearing snorkeling gear and a life jacket, I jumped into the water. This time, success. I snorkeled! I saw fish in the ocean! Beautiful fish that I had never seen before in my life were now available to me.

Starting Over

In order to master this activity, I had to essentially start over. Starting over was not easy; starting over never is. Whether it is trying something new or trying something that we have not done in a long time, the process is the same and it takes courage.

Looking for a job, whether it is the first time in years or something you've done in recent years, takes time and preparation. In a similar fashion, I had to start over in how I thought of snorkeling, by preparing and then taking small steps. You can take the same approach with your job search.

Asking Questions

When starting a job search, reflect on how you are thinking about it. Ask yourself:

  • Are you approaching it with fear or with a vision of success?
  • Do you know what you want to do and have you identified several job or career options?
  • Do you have the skills you need to conduct your job search?
  • Have you developed a plan?
  • Is your resume ready?
  • Do you have a list of people you want to network with?
  • Have you practiced an informational interview?

Rallying Your Support System

Support is critical in starting over. I told family members that I wanted to try snorkeling again.

  • Whose support can you solicit during your search?
  • What do you need from them: a listening ear, ideas, or just to check in with you during your search?

Creating a vision, preparing yourself, and having support can lead to success. You will soon be swimming in a sea of opportunities, instead of swimming in fear.


Diane L. Dunton M.S., president of Potential Released Consulting Services since 1996, has over 25 years of business and HR experience. Diane has received specialized training with National Training Labs, the Gestalt Institute, Center for Creative Leadership, the University of Michigan's Organizational Career Development and the Center for Reengineering Leadership programs. She has developed programs for over 25,000 employees and leads more than 20 workshops annually offering executive coaching, professional individual coaching and programs on leadership and strategic planning. She has appeared before conferences of up to 9,000 participants and her work has appeared in both U.K. and U.S. management publications, including the Society for Training and Development's Team and Organizational Development Sourcebooks (2003-2006).Learn more about Diane at PotentialReleased.com.