When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It
Yogi Berra said it best. The baseball great, pop culture icon, and sage for the ages, is responsible for some of the most memorable quotes in the American lexicon. Have you hit your fork in the road yet, and if so, which direction are you taking?
Unemployment has hit record lows this year, but what of overall job satisfaction? Do you love your career? Are you happy in your chosen profession, or just coasting along to pay the student loans and mortgage bills?
These questions may lead you to wonder whether you’re in the right place in your career, or if it’s time for a change. Your Best Edit has prepared this quick questionnaire for you to jump-start your search, so let’s get to it.
Cover Your Bases
Take stock of the pluses and minuses of your current job. Include salary (natch), the opportunity for advancement (or lack of it), and the quality of your work-life.
How long is your commute?
What are the average amount of hours you work per week?
Do you have enough time to spend with family and friends, sleeping, exercising, eating well, and pursuing creative hobbies?
Are you able to save enough money for a bigger apartment, to pay off student loans, fund your children’s education, and afford a much-needed vacation?
Where do things ultimately add up for you?
Running on Empty
Take a hard look at your quality of life right now.
Is your job worth the sacrifices you’re making while working 50+ hours per week?
Are you earning what you deserve?
Do you drag yourself into the office each morning, and does every day feel like a Monday in the classic Bill Murray film Groundhog Day?
Can you really recharge on evenings and weekends, or does it feel like you’re running 24/7 on that endless hamster wheel?
Have colleagues been laid off and now you’re tasked with their responsibilities, as well as your own?
Let Go and Channel Your Inner Yogi
The first step to a big professional change doesn’t involve wearing a suit, uniform, or updating your resume. You can even do it on the couch in your pajamas. Give yourself some quiet time to imagine a different scenario for your ideal work week.
What do you love to do, even if you aren’t paid for it? Think you can’t make a living at it anyway, so why bother considering the possibilities? Think again. There are all kinds of alternative careers out there these days, and happy, fulfilled people are flourishing in them.
Ponder these ideas to create a new path for yourself:
Does cooking make you happy? Start experimenting with recipes for an artisanal specialty and try it out at your next party. Focus groups of friends and family can offer free and insightful critiques of your products.
If you find yourself in a real bookstore (if you can still find one in your neighborhood), what section do you make a beeline for? What draws you to that particular topic, and why?
Have you considered teaching design and/or craft classes on the weekends? Start a small hobby group once a month, and your circle of clients will grow like a winter scarf, virtually knitting itself.
If nature floats your boat, get a certificate in mountaineering or fly-fishing and become a guide.
The important thing is to give yourself the freedom to dream and imagine a different direction and career sector than the one you’re stuck in now.
Hit a Home Run Into the Stands
Once you determine a direction for yourself, the practical nuts and bolts preparation begins.
Do you need training to change the course of your career?
Can you work from home and save money on a retail space or commercial office?
Do you have enough of a nest egg to sustain yourself for the next 6, 12, or 24 months until your new venture is profitable?
Can you keep your day job, juggle a side gig for the next year or so, and build it into a full-time business?
Get yourself a free business mentor at your local Small Business Administration office. Their corps of volunteer retired professionals, SCORE mentors, are available to meet with you once a month for as long as you need them.
Wherever your journey leads you, don’t give up before you put in your best effort to fulfill your dreams. Don’t ever forget that you are worth it. Or, as Yogi would say, “You got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”
Your Best Edit offers students superior professional coaching and editing for college admissions essays, personalized resumes and social media profiles for job seekers, and business content for professionals, creatives, and entrepreneurs.