It’s never too late

When I first graduated from university, I made just under $40,000 a year. I thought I had it made! Then I realized that compared to fields like engineering, business or computers, $40,000 wasn’t very much at all. For a while, I didn’t care.  It was my first “real” job!  I would simply work hard and earn raises and promotions over time.  Uhhhhh no.  Not in a science job!  I soon discovered that no matter how little or how much I worked, I would receive a pre-determined raise each and every year.  Many of my colleagues had come to the same conclusion at some point during their careers and consequently, became disillusioned with their work.

Photo Credit: Original photo by K. Sy

I might have been one of those people. After two years of going through the motions at work and waiting for my annual raise, I had had enough. I could have resigned myself to my work and enjoyed my 4 weeks of vacation per year (plus 1 day each year!) until I retired to a kick ass defined benefit pension. But instead of spending my life waiting and being complacent, I decided to do something about it. Many of my former colleagues believed that they had their chance and that now, it was too late. I believed that it was not too late. Sure, it took a big leap and lots of hard work, but I was able to leap into a new, better paying career in two short years.

I find that we are very good at deceiving ourselves. It’s easy to convince ourselves that things are good enough, that change is ‘too much work’, or like former colleagues, that it was ‘too late’ to make a change. But if you are motivated, there is no reason why you can’t try something new!

Some examples from my own life:

  • Two individuals who had trained as Animal Health Technicians went back to school into nurse practitioner programs at the age of 28 and 33, respectively, to train to become registered nurses  These lovely ladies were never straight A students, never “academics”, never “had money”, but nevertheless made the plunge.  They’re both graduated and working in well paying hospital positions!
  • My former manager at a large pharmaceutical company left her $50k a year job to work in clinical study coordination.  It was a big career change!  Instead of sitting at a desk, dealing with HR issues and supply management, she is now working with real patients all over Canada.

Sometimes, the first career we jump in to is not actually a great fit.  Maybe it doesn’t make as much money as we had thought or the work was not as fulfilling as we had hoped.  I think that people should not be afraid to make a change.

It doesn’t have to be a huge change either.  Sometimes, even small changes pay huge dividends in terms of personal happiness.  When Brian felt like he was interested in pursuing wine as a career one day, he didn’t start big.  He started by going to wine festivals and reading books about wine.  He joined a wine club.  It was only later that he got a part time job at a wine store.  When I wanted to write for money, I started by just making a personal blog and telling people to read it.  I volunteered for my professional association’s newsletter.  When I finally started applying for freelance writing jobs, I was confident and prepared.  Sure, I wasn’t 16 anymore and thinking that I was going to be a world famous author.  But hey, it’s never too late.

Have you ever made a big leap?  Did people tell you that it was too late?

Posted in: Career and Work, Philosophy

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