The arrival of the New Year tends to make us look at where we are in our careers and wonder, “How did I end up here, and more importantly, why am I still here?” When the Marine Corps decided to move my husband and me to Japan, those questions hit me like a ton of bricks.
The Path of Least Resistance
I had originally gotten into the automotive industry because someone suggested I might be good at it and it offered a great beginner’s salary. Almost as quickly as I was hired, I was promoted and received the recognition and financial rewards that came with each new title. From then on, everywhere we relocated inside the U.S., my network opened doors for me to pick up my career right where I had left off. It was so seamless that I had never stopped to ask myself if I wanted to pursue other opportunities.
My Aha Moment
Being in Okinawa without any knowledge of how to find a job in a foreign country, I decided to attend an employment workshop at the Transition and Employment office on base. The instructor was describing burnout skills and how, even though we might excel at them, applying them daily without any interest or passion could, well, as the name implies, burn us out. That’s when it hit me. I’d been in the wrong profession for almost ten years! I had been underwhelmed with my job for a long time, but I was good at it, well-known in my field, and had a great salary. Why would I quit, right? Wrong.
The Hard Decision
Taking inventory of my career values revealed that advancement, recognition, and profit weren’t even on the list of things I should be looking for in my next job. Instead, at the top of my list were moral fulfillment, helping others, and a good work-life balance. I decided I had two options; look for a position using the skills I knew I could build a résumé around, or venture down a new career path with nothing but a few transferable skills to get my foot in the door.
In choosing the latter, I was able to find my true calling. As a Career Coach, I get to realize my passion for helping those who sacrifice for our country in ways most people will never understand. Looking around the classroom that day, I saw service members, veterans, and spouses make the same discovery about their ill-fitting professions that I had made. Now, I can proudly say that I make the move towards a meaningful vocation a little less daunting for them.
With 2017 fast approaching, take the time to ask yourself what motivated you to choose your career and is it still where you want to be. What will you do when you discover the answers?
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