For at least a year now, there has been something stirring inside of me.
A slight discontent or boredom with what had been my dream job for the last several years, something that was causing me to dream of goals and a career path outside of my higher education job.
At first this stirring really scared me. The thought of leaving my job and higher education as a whole seemed like a total waste of a master’s degree and ten years of experience, not to mention a major loss of professional (and personal) identity.
God couldn’t be leading me to leave my higher education job… right?
That seemed insane. Why would He ask me to walk away from something I had put so much time and energy into?
So, as all career-confused people do, I turned to books, blogs, podcasts, and webinars about how to side hustle. You know what I’m talking about. I bought into the whole “don’t quit your day job and, instead, chase your dream on the side”
kool-aid. These hustle-preachers tell you to work on your dream on the weekends and from 5-6am. It worked for them, so I thought, “okay, I can do this!”
But you know what that did for me? It just made me feel utterly exhausted and extremely divided. Not only was I not doing either one great (the day job or dream), but I was barely making it as a wife, friend, sister, or daughter. I felt torn at the seams and below average at all of my identities and roles.
Then I came across this article: 3 Signs It’s Time to Make a Change. Forget the first and third sign. It was the second that knocked me out of my chair.
“When the Path Is Leading You the Direct Opposite Direction of Your Intended Destination”
Are you on a well-laid path where you’re making great momentum, yet you’re going the exact opposite direction of where you want to go? … Yet, to leave it would be a sacrifice of finances, comfort and the collection of cool stuff you take pictures of for Instagram… The most dangerous job you can have is a comfortable one that is slowly floating you away from the things that are truly important to you. The longer you stay in, the harder it is to escape.
Gulp. You know when the preacher says something from the pulpit on Sunday morning that you are sure was directed straight at you. Yep. That’s how I felt about those few sentences.
Yet when I pushed myself to consider the path I was on, the comfortable, cool instagram path, I realized that when I envisioned myself at 45 years old, I didn’t see myself in the same job or even as a higher education professional. While I loved my job, students, and coworkers, I knew that’s not where I wanted to be at 45. I imagined myself writing and speaking, being in control of how much (or little) I worked, becoming a mom, being a contributing member of our church and neighborhood community, cheering my husband on in his own career endeavors, and on it goes.
It’s not that the path I was on was bad or couldn’t even have elements of the path I just described. It’s just that the path itself was leading me to a place I didn’t really want to end up.
So what path are you on and is it where you want to end up?
Years ago, I read a book that asks you to imagine your life at 80– what does it look like, who are you with, what’s the community/family around you, what have you accomplished, etc. It helped me identify several big picture things (like “oh I do want to get married some day and have children”) that I had been unsure about in my young twenties.
I know we all dread the question, “where do you see yourself in 10 years?” but I think it’s vital we ask ourselves and answer it regularly. Seriously, 10 years from today, what do you want your life to look like? Not just the job you want to be in, but what does the ideal you look like, act like, and live like ten years from now? Are you on the path that is leading you there?