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An Unlikely Mechanic’s Tips for Second-Act Careers

Cathy Heying, founder and executive director of a non-profit auto repair shop that serves low-income people in Minnesota, offers advice on how you can recognize when it’s time to follow a new direction in life.


Hi Guideposts. My name is Cathy Heying, and I am the founder and executive director of The Lift Garage. The Lift Garage is a non-profit auto repair shop. We provide low-cost car repair to low-income Minnesotans. Our customers have incomes that fall at 150% of federal poverty guideline or below, and they pay $15 an hour for labor and parts at cost, saving them about two-thirds of what it would cost for the same repair in a market-rate shop. The biggest hurdles in starting a second-act career are believing in yourself and not listening to the naysayers who tell you you shouldn’t or you can’t. You have to go deep in yourself to find a place where you believe in yourself, because it’s going to get lonely, and it’s going to get hard at times, and you have to find that inner strength that allows you to persevere or to stay true to it when it gets hard, because it will get hard. You have to be open, which sounds sort of simplistic, but it’s scary and it’s big, and there are going to be way more reasons why you shouldn’t do it than why you should. And this is one of those things in your life that you need to go to someplace else—to your heart, to your soul, to your gut, and trust what that is telling you. How do you know when that nudge is the right thing, when it is something bigger than yourself? For me, it was when it became clear that I would regret it more if I didn’t try it than if I tried it and failed. When you can’t stop thinking about it, when even though everything in your being is saying, “Don’t do it,” and you can’t stop thinking about it, that to me is a sign that it is something bigger than you.  

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