Thanks for your support yesterday, everyone. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.
What I can tell you is what contributed to my thoughts about a career change. There’s more to it than my escalating work dissatisfaction.
I recently saw links to the video sites below on someone else’s blog.* These are videos of Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch giving his last lecture. He is dying from pancreatic cancer, and his talk is "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." This guy is amazing, inspirational, and … really amazing. He talked about life lessons learned and gave advice on how to achieve career and personal goals.
Here’s the version I would recommend. It’s long. About an hour and a half long, to be specific. But watch it. Seriously, watch it. Come on, there’s a writers strike, there's nothing on TV … step away from the TV and watch this instead. It is worth every second.
Here’s a much shorter version, where he gave a mini-lecture on Oprah. It’s not as good … he’s rushed and there’s a lot of interesting stuff missing. But not as good is still damned good, so if you really only have 15 minutes then watch this one. FYI, I watched the short one then went back to watch the long one because it was so good. I’m glad I watched the longer one, and I wish I’d skipped straight to it because watching the shorter one was like reading the end of a book first.
So I watched this video.
To understand where I was mentally and emotionally when I watched it, I have to put it into context. I watched this video two weeks after my best friend’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was also a little under five months after my grandmother died of terminal cancer. My family spent nine months in 2007** caring for my grandmother, and I anticipate that my best friend and her sister will spend most of 2008 caring for her mother. It goes without saying that these are life-changing experiences. (Although apparently I felt like I had to say it anyway.)
So here I am, confronted repeatedly by life’s fragility and transience. Add to that my work dissatisfaction, and is it any wonder that the video had an impact?
Life is short. TOO short. We should live it fully, and I’m not sure I can say I’m doing that right now.
After watching the "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" lecture, I started to think about my childhood dreams. I was a creative child … I took art classes and wrote stories (unprompted – not as school assignments) and I daydreamed. I was an introvert with an active imagination, and when I grew up I wanted to be an interior designer. This was in the mid to late 70’s – long before HGTV! All of that drifted away around puberty; I think the social pressures were such that my dreamy introverted artsy way of being didn’t work with the boys and friends scene.
Fast forward through high school and college and graduate school and over a decade in the work-force. Somehow I’ve become this analytic creature! Granted, I find that my employers typically like me because I have a creative problem-solving approach, but still. There’s a big piece of who I am that I left behind a long time ago. A couple years ago my current job used to tap into that creative side occasionally, and I think it’s what kept me happy here. But the last two years have been different. Management and organizational focus has changed. Now, creativity is a thing of the past and, because of that and other crapola, I’m becoming an analytical cynical dissatisfied employee.
And I started thinking … what brings me joy? What do I like to do on my days off? And the answer is … you guessed it … putting together fun, funky, functional home décor, as well as landscaping my yard. Which leads me to think that my childhood dreams weren’t too off-target. Becoming an interior decorator or landscape architect would be a good fit for me in terms of aligning my career with things I love. And the more think about it, the more appealing those options are.
But is either one of those feasible? That’s a question I can’t answer yet.
To answer the question, I think the first step is research research research. Research, and list-making. I’m glad I’m not alone in my anal-retentive OCD list-making. My blogger family understands … ya gotta make a list. So, my next step … well, my next step is to do research and figure out my next step. Right now I have more questions than answers.
What are my options? What can I do while I’m still employed at my current job? How long would I need out of the workforce, if any? Financially, what do I need to do to prepare for the possibility of being out of the workforce for a while, and returning to the workforce at a lower income? How do the degrees I have reduce the time it’ll take to get new degrees I may need? What is the job really like? How can I use the skills I have to position myself well in the new industry?
I have work to do!
Thanks again for your support. You guys have helped me think this through. I don’t know if I’ll actually do this career change thing or not, but I have to at least check into it. It’s too important to blow off. Life it too short!
*I’m so sorry – I don’t remember who had it. It was a while back, and I just don’t remember who it was. I’d totally link to you if I remembered
** Someday I’ll talk more about 2007 – those 9 months were the worst months of my life by far. Oh, as a side note? Please don't smoke.