Sunday, September 24, 2006

Career Change

About ten years ago, there was an Oprah Winfrey guest who was discussing the courage one needed to make a career change after working in one career for many years. She mentioned how many evolving individuals make a career change every seven years. She also said something that licensed me to later make a bold move. She said that if you are in a job or discipline you do not like, that is bad for your health, that you were forced into by someone else (parents, for example), that you need only decide you have every right to change jobs…and go for what you REALLY want. I was convinced that having “something to fall back on” after the English major stint was over was imperative, so I studied to teach college composition. It was one of the best gigs in the world, save that the politics suck. At the same time, I had groomed myself as a writer since I was old enough to hold a pencil in my teeth and write on the walls of our modest duplex halls. After ten years of bureaucratic b.s, such as telling staff there was such a budget deficit that they would have to do some massive layoffs—then six months later were adding buildings and hiring into high-end administrative positions, I took the offer (a kind of golden handshake for those too young to retire) to give up my job(s) at the college. I did so not only that older colleagues with homes and mortgages and kids and whatnot needed to keep their positions, but because I never had, after a twelve- to fifteen-hour day, time for my deepest passion, writing. It took guts, also called intestinal fortitude by my high school English instructor, to make such a dramatic career change. It also is supposed to take capital, of which I had none (and I am NOT exaggerating—had about twelve bucks all tolled). But I had internalized the career change advice of the Oprah guest that many years back (a guest whom I cannot recall a name for, so I apologize). And I had made the career change as an adjustment, but more, as a reclamation of what my soul pointed toward doing to begin with. I wish the same desire to eclipse should/would/could voices in you and give you the impetus to make that career change for the better! Granted, there were at first many times—that first transition year, especially--whereby I felt anxious, terrified, where I felt guilty, where I got overwhelmed, or where I got depressed. These times get fewer and farther between, and they come with less impact as time passes and I get further from the career change date(s). These emotions are normal, actually. According to Eileen McDargh, author of HOW to WORK for a LIVING and STILL BE FREE to LIVE (a book I just found a month or so ago, which I hope is still in print for you to find as well), these emotions are natural for individuals making a career change or making the decision to be “faithful to our giftedness, our ‘work’.” McDargh also follows up the discussion of the negative manifestations as a result of career change with empowering details on our 1)faith; 2)self-esteem and confidence; and 3) willingness to risk. For that, dear soldier of commerce or creativity, is what career change rests most soundly upon.


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