Reinvent yourself.

At 32, I think I'm approaching midcareer. I say that because the 10 years I spent in marketing communications -- where I climbed to the position of vice president -- feels like a long time.

Even in my early 20s, I knew I eventually wanted to change my path. A writing career seemed to be the best one for me. I started by taking journalism and public-speaking courses, all while still working for a large company.

I'm a workhorse by nature, and I plodded along with my transformation in the same way I've achieved most things in life -- slowly and steadily. Like many people, I am a cautious risk-taker, so I held onto my job for years to allow my writing career to pick up steam.

Most people don't buy into the concept of overnight success, and I'm no different. I didn't receive some huge book deal that changed my life. Many experts say "don't go halfway," but that's exactly what I did.

That brings us to the point of this new Wall Street Journal Sunday column. There is no fail-safe process for reinventing your career. It's a personal journey. My aim is to provide you with the best guidance as you take your next steps.

From taking advantage of opportunities in your current organization to trading in retirement for a new career, to ditching your first career for a second act or using your corporate skills to launch a business -- we'll cover them all.


I recently spoke to Stephen Covey, author of "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "The 8th Habit," about this idea of career renewal and change. He insisted now is the time for organizations and individuals to focus on reinvention: "We are living in a white-water world, and these are Level 3 rapids. You must have a clear sense of what your purpose is and the skill set to get there."

Take charge, he says: "It's more important than ever to draw on your imagination, think strategically, take initiative and work outside your immediate circle of influence."

To that end, this column will feature advice on how you can build, change and reinvent your career. But it will also include stories of real people who have been through or are contemplating a change -- stories like that of Farai Chideya, a National Public Radio host whose show was canceled during recent layoffs.

"Having a show that I loved ripped out from under me was traumatic," says Ms. Chideya. But she didn't despair for long. Instead, the 20-year media veteran ramped up her alternative career as an author and lecturer.

When I queried my network of friends, colleagues and people I've met through work and books about their personal stories of reinvention, I received some 500 emails -- stories that were hopeful, enlightened, ambitious and proud.