Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Changing Careers & Soul Searching

For any of you that know me or for those of you who have been reading my blog for any amount of time know, I've been struggling with happiness with my work situation.

The past 3 1/2 years of being stuck at a desk has been interminably long and I firmly believe that I was not meant to be doing that. After being a stage manager for a decade, being stuck at a desk (although it is still in a theater) is incredibly boring to say the least. Truth be told though, there isn't much going on the road these days (and I'm enjoying being home anyway) and there really isn't much in the way of theater where I'm currently living. So, this leads me to a difficult decision: Stay in my field and remain miserable or start from scratch and completely change my career.

Changing careers is an extremely daunting thought. I thought I was doing what I wanted to do when I grew up and am now finding that I need to rethink that. Because I had been successful in theater up to this point, I honestly never really gave much thought to a back up plan. When I was a child, I thought about being an entertainment lawyer, or a vet, or something to do with computers, or even a psychologist. Really, I can't say that any of that is intriguing to me anymore.

Instead, I find myself being drawn to all kinds of alternative careers.
~I still very much want to make a go of selling my maille at faires, but I need to be able to support myself while I prepare to do that. In my current job, I have plenty of time to blog, list items, and twitter during the day but making time to build up inventory is a bit of a challenge. In addition, it also seems like every time there's a craft fair in my area that I want to do, I'm stuck having to work that weekend.
~I'm very much into natural health and thought that a career in herbalism sounds fascinating. Of course, that would require schooling because I'd have a lot to learn and would have to get certified. Again, because of my current job schedule, attending classes would be difficult because I need to be available whenever there are shows.
~Welding is something that has sparked my interest, but from a creative standpoint. I don't think I'd want to work in construction.
~Humane Law Enforcement through the ASPCA is something that I would feel passionate about, but those positions are currently only available in New York.
~Work at a women's shelter is something else that my heart would be in, but from the research I have done, it seems like only volunteer positions are currently available.

It seems like nothing that I'm interested in doing would earn me much of a living, but I think these completely nontraditional jobs would make me happy. Thing is, we've got a mortgage to pay...

By the end of the summer, a decision may be made for me. The people in the ivory tower where I work have more or less said that someone in my department will be let go. This is frustrating because we're all walking around on egg shells and have no way of planning our lives with this threat hanging over us. Even if I am not the one that's let go, I'm still going to continue to research my options. 3 1/2 years of desk work making me unhappy is reason enough to keep soul searching for something better.

So, I'd like to hear from all of you. Have any of you had to switch careers? How did you make it happen? Was it something that you always had in the back of your mind that you wanted to try? I'd love to hear your stories.


Andrea Paulie said...

Gosh you do have a dilemma on your hands.....I too have never really been interested in anything that makes enough money to pay the mortgage but now I have a day job that i love so much!!! I have always loved buildings and therefore work in construction but I work as a Buyer so its something that I am intested in as construction is very creative and you actually see something develop from a drawing to a real life building but being a buyer in construction earns more money than being completely hands on in construction, although I still get time to go out on site and climb ladders etc so I get the best of both worlds and I always have the weekends free to make my jewellery!! I guess the point I am trying to make is think of something your interested in but think outside the box when it comes to the role you can play in that field also think of companys that work with or supply to the industry / field you are interested in this may give you a different perspective, of course you may have to re-train but honestly the worlds your oyster!! :-)

Stacey - Elle Belle said...

My Doug is sort of in the same position these days... the career he had settled on was going well until one day when the company decided to purchase another company that does something completely unrelated to the orignal company, so he was forced to switch directions or quit. We found a really great career counselor who has helped him not only re-evaluate what jobs may be a good fit for him based on his interests and natural abilities (he took a test and she did a verbal assessment as well and was then able to give him some really great feedback/observations), but also creating a plan for an interim solution. I'm happy to recomend her to you if you're interested, just email me.

mermaiden said...

both good ideas and sage advice up above, there.
i can only send you empathy and kindness, as i have similar struggles right now and am finding myself resistant to any new career path aside from making "stuff".
i'm sick of hearing about hard times and a sucky economy, even though it's true! it's depressing and hard to find focus.

i think it is important that you are considering alternatives, even though you don't know if you'll be the one they let go next. being open to something that makes you happy is a crucial starting point.

Evie's Tool Emporium said...

15 years ago I knew I needed to make a career change. I paid off all my debt (except my mortgage) and saved money like crazy for 2 years. That security gave me time to decide what I wanted to do. I left my safe job and took a leap of faith. I have never been happier. There are 2 points that I would like to share.

The first one is that so many doors will open up for you. It will amaze you when you begin to look what is all out there. Opportunites have come to me out of the blue. Maybe I was naive, but I just went with it, and it has been so rewarding!

The second one is that so many people stepped forward to help me out with leads, words of encouragement etc. I have spent the past 13 years keeping that in mind. If there is someone I can help out along the way I really try hard to do it. I remember fondly those who have helped me and I want to make sure I do the same!

I wish you the very best of luck. I hope that your experience is as good as mine and if there is anything that you feel I can help you with please let me know!

The Green Cat said...

Originally I decided to leave stage management because I was burnt out: long hours, too much travel, no personal life and still living paycheck to paycheck. I had planned to go back to school for massage therapy because I thought that was what I wanted to do. I knew I'd need a regular job while I was in school.

I loved stage management and couldn't think of a thing I wanted to do other than that. Except that I didn't want to do that anymore. I had done some office temp work and I knew that most office jobs made me homicidal. (No, they really did make me extremely angry.) I started looking for work through the Actors Work Program hoping they could guide me toward something I could stand.

When I saw the listing for my current job, I actually thought it was in a box office. I thought "I like doing customer service and I've worked in box offices before. I could do that." I applied for and got the job (which turned out, as you know, to be with Broadway Cares). I love my job and, more importantly I love the organization I work for. It was a happy accident, I know.

After a year of working there I realized that I had no idea where I wanted my career in massage to take me and I also really liked the comfortable lifestyle I was now leading: steady paycheck, regular hours, being able to become part of my community since I wasn't traveling so much, having the time and money to craft and take classes at will... I decided to put off school and just live for a while. I'm not sure if school will come back into my plan.

If you asked me 5 years ago if I'd be happy living as I do now, I probably would have laughed at you. It constantly amazes me how my goals morph and change as I get older.

Janine, you will find the thing you want to do that makes you happy. You will find the balance in your life. Keep your mind open to possibilities and talk to EVERYONE you know. Something may spark you and lead you down the path that works best for you. Fear not!

corey smith said...

Hey Janine,
Reading about where you are at, and the dilemma you are in struck a chord, because both myself and many people in our country are facing now. Please check out my story about what i am going through at as it is relevant to changing careers. Let me know if you would like to cross link. Keep the faith, Don't let all the stuff or the big picture paralyze you. Corey