One of the things we often don’t consider in our career is that it’s never too late to re-educate yourself or to decide that maybe you want to have a career change. For those of you who have read my book ‘Define your Inner Diva’ in Decisive Diva, the chapter on Career, I talk about undertaking a career review. This is quite an important thing to do because often when we reached that point in our lives where we think that we really don’t like what we’re doing in life and you may feel like you want to do something completely different, but we have educated ourselves to reach our career pinnacle, it seems that picking up and doing something different is entirely too hard.
In my book, I talk about our seven-year developmental cycles, the first complete cycle ends around 35. This is often about the time where we reach a point of feeling a bit like a ‘fraud’ in our working life, we often think “I don’t actually think I like what I’m doing, who I am or what I’ve chosen to be!”
We end up chosen to make ‘something’ of ourselves in response to our negative feelings that come from adolescence. We don’t like a lot of the things that have happened in our adolescence, who we think we are and we come out of adolescence feeling different like we don’t belong. So, we decide that we’re just going to be “this” in our career and when we actually decide we are going to to be “this thing” we often make choices based on what we think other people will see value in. For example, if I become a lawyer then my parents will be really proud of me. Often our parents influence what we decide that we want to do for a career as an adult and so you do something because they want you to do it and not necessarily because it’s something that you’re really interested in, or passionate about.
As a result, by the time we hit that last seven-year cycle between 28 and 35, there’s this feeling that can start to build within us that says “Actually, I don’t think I like what I’m doing. I don’t think I fit. I don’t think I’m passionate about it. I don’t think I’m really that interested in it. I feel like a bit of a fraud around these people and I don’t really belong and I don’t know what I want to do anymore!
At this point, many of us think “It’s too late! Bad luck… You’re just gonna have to suck it up and stick with it!” However, this is often the time that I say to people that it really is an opportunity for you to decide that you want to do something different.
For me, it was at 28 that I decided to go to University and start on a completely different career path and study psychology. I started studying when my youngest was one. I then spent 15 years of my life studying part-time, whilst working full-time, to get my degree finished and getting through my internship. Trying to jump through all of the hoops necessary to get me to a point where I could sit here and have this validity that says I understand human behavior and therefore I can talk about it and work in that space every day. It was hard!
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that studying part-time for 15 years, whilst working full-time and raising two children, the majority of that time as a single parent, was easy… It wasn’t! But, it was what I really wanted to do as it was my passion and for me, it was something that I felt that I couldn’t just turn my back on, or I knew that I was going to spend the rest of my life unhappy.
It wasn’t that my career was bad, I was happy enough in the job that I was doing and I had done reasonably well for myself in my work, but it wasn’t fulfilling me. It wasn’t making me feel that when I woke up every day, that I wanted to leap out of bed and go to work. It was a job and it was needed security for me at the time, and as a sole parent, it was one of those things that I needed to do to ensure I could meet my responsibilities. Sometimes we have to make those sacrifices, but I really wanted to do something that would change our long-term outcomes as a family.
I did this for my daughters, as much as for myself, and I wanted to make sure that I did something that would make me feel fulfilled. Something that would make me happy, as opposed to doing something that just paid the bills or made the people around me think I was an okay person.
If there is one thing that I would encourage you to do, it is to realise that it is never too late to decide that maybe you would like a career change, that you would like to do something that really does fulfill you, much more than what you are doing now. So, if that sounds like something you want to explore, just consider short courses in adult education, no one said it has to be a big commitment to a degree.
I never stop learning. I’m off next week to do some training and it’s not always about psychology. I often like to learn about other things, different areas of interest, if I think that it might help me or influence the way that I look at things. I’m always open to education as knowledge isn’t heavy and it doesn’t cost us anything to carry with us, it is weightless and it’s not a burden to carry… It is just something that can assist us to move forward.
All right…. See you soon