Chicago executive coach Charlotte Weeks, founder of Weeks Career Services, works with senior-level professionals ready to make a switch. She sees four common second acts: consulting, teaching, nonprofits and entrepreneurship (a new retail shop, bed-and-breakfast, food truck, you name it).
But before you leap, she cautions, know thyself: Understanding your personality type is the best way to make a successful transition. Weeks uses the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a general guideline to evaluate clients. There are four personality attributes and 16 personality combinations. Each attribute corresponds to a key skill and often predicts success in each route. She explains how.
Are you outgoing or shy? “Extroversion and introversion are the traits I look at most closely,” she says. An “E” (an extrovert in Myers-Briggs-eze) is suited to opening a small business like a bed-and-breakfast or a retail shop thanks to the self-promotion and small-talk necessary attract customers. An “I,” or introvert, should consider parlaying his/her skills toward a self-directed goal, like consulting, where work can be accomplished from home without too much face time and where promotion can be Internet-based.
Are you an intuitive or concrete thinker? An intuitive person, or “N,” often has a sixth sense. “There’s not always a clear-cut answer for them,” Weeks says. Look for something where abstract debates are the norm, like academics or counseling—many Ns make excellent teachers or advisers. A sensing person, or “S,” is a detailed, concrete thinker. “These types could lend financial skills to a nonprofit or create a business plan for a new venture,” she says.
How do you make decisions? A “feeling” person excels in the helping professions, says Weeks, like nursing or teaching. If you’re not able to reroute your career, consider teaching a class online or volunteering at a hospital. A “thinking” person uses logic. “They relish the opportunity to innovate, to come up with new processes and procedures—anything that involves something new,” Weeks says. Those with “T” attributes are often successful inventors or entrepreneurs. They could skillfully launch a new business or save a struggling one with their clear-eyed reasoning.
How do you orient yourself to the world?“J,” or judging types, are planners. But don’t call them boring: They simply like order and process, and they use it to launch new ventures. “These people might take off to open a hotel across the country, but they’ll have a business plan and plenty of financial reserves first,” Weeks says. Type “P,” or perceivers, are more spontaneous. These folks are more comfortable with open-endedness—such as taking some unstructured time off from a job to soul-search or to start that novel they’ve always wanted to write.