It has been months since I’ve written at length about my decision to leave my full-time, decently well-paying job. I left my job after my sick benefits ran out after our 4th miscarriage in May. After months of recommendations from my counsellor and family doctor Mr. MPB and I finally decided I needed to leave a very high stress job in which I was working 70+ hours a week. Combining our recurrent pregnancy loss with my job, I was burning out. I need to focus on my physical and emotional recovery from our 4 miscarriages. I needed to focus on providing the best chance possible for our next pregnancy.
We are in a very fortunate position in that we can afford for me to not be working. We made the decision to buy a house that we could afford on one income, and further e have both worked very hard for a number of years and have saving that made this an option for us.
But, here’s the thing, I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom, let alone my current state a stay-at-home dog mommy and wife.
There have been many things about this break that I have enjoyed, one of my favourites has been that I’m not waking up at 3am in a cold sweat due to some imminent work problem. I’ve been learning to sleep again. I have also been taking the time to search for meaningful moments of happiness. Truthfully though, I think my husband has probably enjoyed me not working the most – he has not stepped inside a grocery store in months, he has not been spending time loading and unloading the dishwasher, and he has not been cooking nearly as much. I have been cooking the vast majority of our meals, and some days in addition to making supper, I even make him breakfast and lunch!
While I have done a bit of private consulting in the last month, it has been sporadic at best and now as we transition from trying for one more healthy pregnancy to fully focusing on adoption, I feel as though I should be returning to some sort of more regular employment.
The problem is that I have no idea what I want to do! All I know right now, is that I spent 6 years in university achieving multiple degrees and 8 years working in a profession that I want out of! Shit.
So, what do I do?! How do I figure this out? It has taken me months to write on the topic of my professional challenges because I’m finding the entire topic very anxiety provoking – just thinking about this puts me into a state of slight panic, I can literally feel my heart rate increasing as I type this.
I am afraid that I am going to end up going back to what I’ve been doing because it’s easy and I’m good at it, even though the work doesn’t excite me and the industry is slowly killing my spirit. And what if I cannot get a job I want in a different industry – it’s not particularly easy to change from one professional industry to another. Then I’ll be forced back into the industry.
I’ve thought a lot about going back to school. But, I am afraid if I go back to school to get another master degree or even a PhD, I will be doing it simply to delay making a real decision about my professional future.
Honestly, I feel almost paralyzed by my fear. Fear that I’m going to take the wrong job, or fear that I’m going to make a big change and still not like what I am doing.
So, being a classic type-a personality who needs to control everything, months ago I decided if I’m going to do this, I need to do it right. So, I hired a career counsellor. I was told I should stay in my current profession because I’m good at it – yup, that was a waste of $1500. Okay, that was a little harsh. Truthfully, career counselling was able to help me articulate why I did not like my job and my profession. Which means I can now articulate what I am unwilling to do:
- I will not travel more than 2 nights a month. I used to travel 3-4 days a week, and I will not accept a job that requires this type of travel.
- I will not work for a company that does not share my moral compass and ethical values. I need a company that stands by its nicely written corporate philosophies in practice, not just as a marketing practice.
- I will not work more than 32 hours a week on a regular basis. I do not want a full time job, and more importantly I will not work 70+ hours a week on a regular basis. I understand that during intense short-term crunch times I may need to work more, and I’m okay with that.
- I will not work overtime without fair compensation. I expect to be compensated fairly for my time.
- Who I work with matters more then what I actually work on.
The career counsellor also helped me identify what skills I currently use that I really enjoy and what I need to be successful in my next adventure:
I am skilled at group facilitation and public engagement, and enjoy the challenges of ensuring respectful dialogue on controversial topics. I am also skilled at leading team and motivating individuals to achieve project goals and objectives. I am skilled at and enjoy strategic project management, and I thrive when there is variation in the projects as I like the excitement of new experiences and knowledge. When I find myself in uncharted territory, I like to research alternative case studies, trends and best practices to help determine the best course of action. When immersed in a project, my actions are well thought out and deliberate. I need space and time to develop the strategic approach to solve problems.
My strongest interests are people, writing, learning and perusing new adventures. I want to lead and contribute to teams and conversations where I learn as much as I teach and that are respectful of the unique perspectives of all participants. I need to feel that I am contributing to the greater good and making a positive contribution to the world.
As a very social person, I need to work with collaborative teams, yet have a quiet workspace available for concentrated and focused activities. To further optimize my performance and be a good team member, I need a workspace that has natural light, is flexible in respect to my work hours and location and has a short daily commute. I require recognition in the form of time-in-lieu and quiet praise from those I work with.
Most importantly to be successful and healthy, I must hold true to my personal integrity and ethical convictions.
But, here’s the problem, while I have taken this break and met with a career counsellor, I still cannot identify what I actually want to do when I grow up! I am used to being able to sort through information and make an educated decision on what the best course of action is. Instead, I’m honestly lost and overwhelmed by it. It’s a strange feeling for me and I don’t know what to do about it.
Has anyone else been through a career crises? How did you figure out what to do?
Does anyone have any suggestions about possible industries I should look into? (note that i have intentionally not said what I currently do because I don’t want to constrain any possible ideas).
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