At last, I know what I want to be when I grow up.
That’s great. How old are you?
I’m forty-seven and I’ve spent the last twenty-five years doing what I learned to do and what I was told to do, but that’s not working for me anymore.
What caused you to rethink your direction?
A lay- off. I’d been looking for work for the last year. The longer I looked the more I realized I didn’t want to do what I’ve done. I wasn’t kidding myself…I needed a job because I needed an income. I have too many obligations and too many people counting on me to just hang it up. But I wanted to do something that I was motivated to do, not something that I had to do.
What did you discover?
It might sound naïve or simplistic, but I want to be appreciated for doing work that makes a difference. Because I’m no longer working 60 hour weeks and most weekends, I’ve had time to sit back and think about what’s really important, and do what I wouldn’t ordinarily do. Being unemployed flipped a switch for me, in a good way. I’m more aware of what’s going on around me, I’m more compassionate than I used to be, I ask more questions, and I do more listening.
When I was working, I was in such a hurry achieving, I never stopped long enough to know where the roses were, much less smell them. I had young kids then. I don’t think I looked at them the way I do now. I didn’t talk with them and play with them the way I do now. And I know I didn’t appreciate my spouse the way I do now. I didn’t want to be unemployed. It’s demoralizing; it’s frightening. And it’s given me time to really think about what’s most important to me and to our family.
Sounds like you’ve done more than think about it.
I have. I’m taking my experience and skills from the for- profit arena and applying them in a non profit environment. Over the last year I’ve done a lot of volunteering and I’ve had a chance to meet a number of people in that field. They’re giving me hope that there’s a place for me. They’re also telling me that I won’t make the kind of money I’ve made in the past. The reality is I’ve not made any money in close to 12 months so doing what I like to do and want to do, that would bring in some income, is a step in the right direction.
Has your family supported you in this decision?
If I had made this decision right after I got laid off I think they would have fought me on it. Now that time has passed and they see how energized I am by the work I do, they’ve come around. We’ve scaled back our expenses, readjusted our priorities, focused forward, and together, we’re moving on with our lives.