Four months prior to graduating college, I was torn between two career paths. Behind door number one was a career in the retail industry that would be relatively safe, paid well, but could potentially lead to extremely long work days and unpredictable hours. Meanwhile, behind door number two was a teaching position that allowed me to work with students from various backgrounds in some of the toughest areas in the country, but could also probably lead to extremely long work days and unpredictable hours as well.
The best option seemed obvious didn’t it?
Ultimately, I decided to go with door number two, choosing passion over comfort and became a teacher although my background was in business. Six years later, I can proudly scream from the mountain tops that I’ve grown tremendously and do not regret the decision. Working closely with students and transformational teachers gave me insight on what it means to be empathetic, hard-working and resilient. However, when I realized that I was running on autopilot at work, that’s when I thought to myself “uh-oh."
After the years, I started to realize that my planner looked the same – from waking up and driving to work to teaching, planning and grading during school, to going home to… do more planning and grading. When I got to the point where I continuously asked myself “what would life look like outside of teaching," that’s when I realized it was time for a change.
I believe that one of the worst things that we can do to ourselves is to not seize the day and explore new avenues, especially if we’re not sure we see ourselves progressing in our current situations. It can be extremely uncomfortable to step out of our comfort zones and leave behind what we’ve grown accustomed to in positions we’ve quite possibly become experts in. But there comes a time where we have to say yes to ourselves because for every dream that we push to the side, there’s someone else living some variation of that dream out to the fullest.
As someone who is looking to change careers (hence the MBA), coming from a non-traditional background when considering the business field has been S-C-A-R-Y. People often sacrifice their comfort, routines, pay in some cases, stability, titles - the list goes on. Nelson Mandela once said that "the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." A lot of the time, we focus so much on the negative – why not flip the script and think about what you’re gaining? How about the opportunity to challenge yourself and work with people who are vastly different with you? Or working for an organization whose foundational values potentially match what is at your core? Entrepreneurship and the potential freedom that comes with turning your vision into reality – any takers?
If you are considering a career change, but are nervous about entering into something so new, here are some questions you could ask yourself:
1. Do I need a traditional job or position to succeed?
2. What is and isn’t working for myself (and loved ones) in my current position?
3. What am I looking for in a position that would make me happy?
4. What does your ideal job look like and does your current situation match that?
5. Is my job aligned to what’s most important to me? (Work life balance, pay, upward mobility, etc.)
6. What steps will I need to take in order to achieve that dream job, and will I be able to find the resources to do it?
7. Is this the right time to make a change? (Be kind to yourself on this one!)
I’m not one to regret much and I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. My advice is to seize the day and remember that ultimately, you are the CEO of your own life – do what makes you happy.
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