One of the most common questions I receive is: “Diana, how did you change careers, from public service to luxury travel?” On the surface, this seems like a random change. These 2 industries are complete opposites. But if we look deeper, you can thrive on both careers using similar talents and abilities. In my re-invention process, nothing was random. I took deliberate steps trusting how much I knew myself: my interests, strengths, weaknesses, personal values, the happiest moments of my life and the lifestyle I wanted to have. This is a post about how to change careers to build a life you love.
Raised in a loving family, I grew up to be ambitious. I am eternally grateful to my mother for teaching me to be strong and happy, even though she had a sad childhood. Now that I live this fast-paced life, I appreciate her more than ever.
My college and graduate education in England and New York City were in International Affairs and Public Administration. It was my dream to serve my country’s government to improve the lives of others. But after 5 years working for organizations such as the United Nations, the Clinton Foundation and the Mayor’s Office in New York, I felt unhappy and underwhelmed. My work environments made me uncomfortable. My colleagues and bosses continually asked me to tone done my voice, reduce my ideas, and work less. They asked me to “blend in” and not stand out.
I was so passionate about working in public service that I didn’t care how low the salary was. But I could not settle for a life and profession that didn’t allow me to express my full potential.
It was hard to accept the internal conflict. It was difficult to be loyal to myself and fit in a system that wasn’t a match for me. I had invested time and money in this career, so I did what seemed reasonable: I reduced myself to not make others uncomfortable. My last 2 months working at the Mayor’s office, I felt like my heart turned off. Life could not be just this. At the end of 2011, I took a hard look at my life: what I had done so far and the life I had always dreamed of. I was far from my ideal life. That’s when I made a radical change. I decided to quit my career in public service and move to a competitive field of work that would allow me to earn money in direct proportion to my effort. I decided to go into business. The type of business, luxury travel, came about easily: what I loved the most in the world was the rush of a plane landing in a foreign land. I dreamed of faraway destinations all my life and never felt happier than when traveling.
The following 3 months were key to redefine, reorganize and reinvent my life. If I had to “throw my career to the trash,” it had to be worth it. I had to go big, but most importantly: I had to be happy. At this point, most of my closest friends and family members called me “crazy” and that “this was the worst mistake of my life.” If you are considering a career change, the key is to look at yourself with honesty. Don’t reduce your talents but don’t fabricate skills if you don’t enjoy them. You can’t lie to yourself for too long.
I started from scratch. I updated my resume to highlight transferable skills from international affairs to business, and applied to jobs in the luxury travel industry all over New York city: hotels, concierge companies, international event planning, travel agencies and private jet firms. I didn’t mind starting from an entry-level position. I sent over 50 resumes and got a few interviews. A private jet company hired me as a commission-only sales person.
I went about this opportunity like my life depended on it, because it did.
After the first 2 weeks of learning about the amazing world of private jets and high-net-worth individuals, I was hooked. All the other new sales employees that started with me, quit by the second week. I had closed 3 great deals. I kept working, learning, stretching, and making more money than I had ever made. I was able to fully pay all my credit cards and start saving. I felt empowered: there was a type of work I enjoyed and for which my natural talents and interests were a perfect fit. At the beginning of 2014, I decided to launch my own private jet company: JET D’OR, INC. With my laptop, phone, and a website, I started operating from my living room in downtown New York. Almost 3 years later, we have a network of over 4,000 jets worldwide and fantastic clients ranging from CEOs, entrepreneurs, athletes, socialites, and members of royal families. My work gave me the freedom to live anywhere in the world. Last year we traveled full time while working. I had the time of my life.
What motivates me?
I have complete freedom to work from anywhere in the world. I also have complete control of when and how I work, and who I work with. I feel free and truly enjoy the responsibility of entrepreneurship. This year I have traveled to over 10 countries and loved every minute of it. My company is my lifestyle. I get to experience life while I work. This is a gift I can never take for granted. I am amazed at the power we have to materialize what we can envision, if we have the discipline to focus. I believe talent is overrated; if you don’t dedicate the time to build what you want, no one will deliver it to you. After the success of my company, I decided to share my story with women all over the world and launched my website to share all the strategies I used to release my fears, decide what I want, program my mind to succeed, handle stress, focus, and manifest what I want. Today we have over 60,000 readers.
I am proud of what I have achieved and I believe that every woman should be at the top of whatever they want to do. The time to be a victim is over. We have to save ourselves.
We must be fearless and understand that the only way up is through. From the bottom of my heart, I dedicate my favorite quote by Marianne Williamson to you:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
© 2016 – 2017, Diana Zuluaga. All rights reserved.