The Wrong Career Track ~ and what I did next…

Morning SunriseDid you ever find yourself ~ in the wrong place, at the right time? I offer this slightly altered phrase ~ as a way to suggest that perhaps the transition that has occurred (or is occurring) ~ for whatever reason, is awakening your inner self and guiding you towards a greater purpose for your life, and is not really a mistake.

Intrigued by LinkedIn’s outreach, to talk about our ‘mistakes,’ I decided to step up to the challenge by reaching into my memory-bank ~ to share one of my earliest career transitions.  Although many years have passed, the feelings and emotions from my twenties ~ remain etched in my heart and in my mind. I often refer to that time period ~ as ‘the defining moment’ in my life, as I like to think it shaped future decisions and transitions. I now believe, there were much earlier life events that provided the will and the courage to make the course correction for my career ‘mistakes.’ (What experience stirs up similar emotions for you?)

Upon reflection, what becomes obvious is that during my college years and the decade following ~ many of my decisions were ones that were made on the basis of what I didn’t want to do for a career, given what I perceived were limited opportunities at the college I was attending. I guess I could have changed schools – but at the time, I really felt that that wasn’t a financial option for me.  Is that perhaps ~ my first ‘mistake’ in this particular story? (What would you have done?)

The direction I chose was to be a Speech Pathologist, as I didn’t want to be a teacher. Did that for a couple years ~ decided Speech Therapy was not ‘the’ career, so I decided to become an Audiologist (the other half of the field) and to begin my graduate studies ultimately working towards my Ph.D. Another in a series of ‘mistakes’ ~ perhaps. (Curious, do you see these as mistakes?)

I remember the ever-growing build-up of unhappiness and dissatisfaction for my profession, and yet, I continued growing my investment via my graduate work, making it even more difficult to just walk away.  I don’t recall ‘the moment,’ but while I was preparing for my doctoral dissertation and struggling with a vision that others held for me ~ I finally had the courage to admit to myself ~ I am NOT a researcher, I am NOT happy, I don’t need a Ph.D., I am Not, I am Not! And, I am going to stop this series of ‘mistakes’ and take charge of my life. (Do you relate?)

I like to think I had courage…or was risk-adverse…and perhaps, I did hold those strengths. Quite frankly though, I was miserable and simply recognized that something needed to change my career direction…that was the easy part.  The hard part came when I recognized that I was the protagonist in this story and that it was up to me to affect my transition. (Is this you, as you struggle in yet another transition?)

Most likely, folks reading my story ~ can relate in some fashion to the internal struggles that occur when we recognize we are living an unhappy chapter of our lives. While, it would be nice to say I stepped out of one career and quickly found what I wanted…well, ultimately I did find ‘it’ ~ but it took a couple more years to walk ~ yet again ~ a rocky and winding road, but this time with greater courage.

I recently read a wonderful book titled, Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer, who asks “Is the life I am living the same as the life that wants to live in me?” With great wisdom and compassion, Parker draws from his life’s journey while imparting the following…”Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”

Thank you for ‘listening’ to a chapter in the story of my life ~ Paulette