What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I was a child, my answer was always “to be a stay at home mom or a house wife”. That was the career I wanted. When I played with barbies, my barbie was always cleaning, or cooking. I am not sure where this desire to be a home maker came from. Both of my parents worked full time jobs and my grandmother, who lived with us, was the one who cooked. When the time came, however, I decided on a different career and that might explain why I am now contemplating a change.
Making a Career Choice at 17!?
At 17, I graduated high school. I was a September baby and in those days, you did not wait another year to start school. If your birthday was in September, ready or not, you started. As a result, I was playing with Barbies freshman year and deciding my future only a few years later. There was no question I was going to college and getting a degree in something, but I had no idea what that something was going to be.
I Wanted a Cool Career!
Cool jobs do not make money. I thought about interior design, fashion design and architecture, but “you have to know someone to get into those industries and be very successful to make any kind of money”. My mother thought I should be a teacher or a pharmacist. If I became a teacher, I could have the summers off and have the same schedule as my children (the ones I did not yet have). The pharmacist idea was because I seemed to have a knack for the names of medications and what they were used for. I still remember the name of some eye drops they gave me for pink eye, when I was 10! Anyway, I did not go with the cool job, or my mother’s suggestions.
My Career is not Cool!
My mom worked in the accounting department of a large company. I worked there in the summers doing anything from stuffing and stamping envelopes, to data entry and bookkeeping functions. I was good at it. Too good. When employees went on vacation, I took over their jobs until they came back. It seemed I did their jobs faster and better and they were not too happy with that. I learned many things working in the summer; I am good at Accounting and people do not like when you do their jobs better than they do!
Accounting as a Career Choice
Accounting was a safe choice. I already had experience in accounting, every business needs an accountant and accountants make decent money. It was a no-brainer. The point of a career is to make money, right? Well, maybe that works for a while, but it gets old. This choice served me well for many years. I worked for a large corporation and climbed up the ladder quite quickly for a few years. My job was great, the salary was nice and I was happy. Soon, however, I learned that the higher up you go in this type of environment, the harder it is to continue moving up. It also became apparent that I was not a good fit for Corporate America. This feeling of not belonging and needing a change has been lingering for at least 5 years! Why am I still here?
In my twenties, if I didn’t like my situation, I changed it. Now, in my late forties, it is not so simple. Fear and anxiety creep in at the thought of making any kind of a change. This is true for many people and it was also true in my twenties, however, like most people, I was able to overcome it. In my twenties, I was only responsible for myself and had no idea I had an anxiety disorder. The anxiety and panic attacks were not affecting my life enough to pay much attention to the thoughts, feelings and sensations that were always there. This is not the case anymore. I have a spouse, two children, a mortgage, bills to pay, my kid’s futures to think about and the certainty that I have an anxiety disorder that can be triggered at any time.
There is the excitement and hope of finding a job in another company and loving it. The possibility of changing to a different career is also enticing. It is never too late to start, right? Why not update the resume and send it to the head hunter that is always calling? It is anxiety and fear that keeps us from taking that leap.
What if you take a new position in a different company and regret it? What if you spend thousands of dollars on a new career path only to be unsuccessful or realize you are not happy with this choice either? My current place of employment was very supportive when I needed a leave of absence. I had the security of a salary and health benefits throughout my leave. What if I need this benefit again and a different employer does not provide it?
At some point, we need to start thinking about the worst outcome. What if you do not try to make a change and stay exactly where you are?
Has anyone had to make a life changing decision? How did you overcome the fear that came along with that decisions? Has Covid-19 affected your career in some way?
This is a great post on reinventing your career: