We get asked fairly frequently, “Was is scary to change careers and change your life? Do you ever miss it?”
It’s a valid question. Jack and I invested a collective 17 years into our former careers, in addition to a combined 9 years of college education and can’t-even-count-‘em hours of practical application side-gig playing and teaching.
We loved our work. And we admire our friends and colleagues in the field beyond measure. What they do on a daily basis serving children and families is incredible. They deserve double the salary and triple the Starbucks gift cards they get at Christmas. Never miss an opportunity to get a real gift for a teacher. I believe in education. We need incredible, well-trained, servant-hearted teachers to serve in our schools. I want my children to have teachers who love what they do, who are passionate about having a hand in the raising of the next generation.
So yes, we loved what we did. But the demands life began to place on our time and energies required us to be willing to make a change.
How change happened: part 1
I had started a small business my second year teaching because the business was FUN. It was great extra money, always a bonus for a teacher, and I loved using a different part of my brain to work with grown-ups and grow my own skills outside of school. Over the course of 3 years it blossomed into an incredibly lucrative career, one that I could still work on the side while focusing most of my energy on my teaching career. I was “working full time on my job and part time on my fortune” (Jim Rohn) until I made the decision to put my full energy into my dream – my business, the opportunity to work on my own schedule and goals, for my family.
Not coincidentally, the year I left the classroom was the year our son was born and died, and it changed my life forever. Never have I had more understanding of the “why and how” my business had grown the way it did, in the time it did. It was worth every setback and disappointment to make the dream a reality. My time was my own, and the only pressure I felt after losing our son was to get my own head and heart back on straight.
How change happened: part 2
Jack was still teaching and continued doing so for another almost 5 years. Many times he was ready to take the leap of faith and branch out into a new career. But the security of the insurance and the steady paycheck (regardless of the amount) was difficult for our family to part with. He was growing increasingly restless with work, frustrated with the overwhelming schedule, and discontent with the time spent away from our 2 small children. The people he poured into all day long got the best of him and what we got at home were the “leftovers.”
One spring we were leaving a professional conference that should have been a blast. He had isolated himself and clouded over the entire week. In the quiet of the car ride home, he suddenly blurted out, “I need a new career. What can I do?” When you’re ready for change, you’re ready for change.
He walked into his boss’s office the next week and resigned. He worked his tail off researching careers, eventually pursuing his real estate license and then his broker’s license. When we had no idea where the next success was coming from (in both of our businesses), hard work and wild belief paid off. And God has blessed every step of the journey. Because we both work from home, we can take our children to school and pick them up together every day. We have limitless opportunity to grow our respective businesses the way we choose. Our children are learning that there are ALWAYS different choices to be made outside the box, and that when you align your goals with God’s plan for your life, anything is possible. And all that’s ahead are wide open spaces.
Big or small… how to change your life
Jack and I hold a firm conviction that we move forward in this family, never backwards. Even in setbacks we choose to face forward moving towards a solution. We may redirect our efforts – but we do not quit. On our beliefs, or on our goals, or on each other.
It’s very easy when we’re mired in circumstances to convince ourselves that “this is just the way it is.”
I’ve come to realize this is one of the most defeating ideas we embrace. “It is the way it is” because we have made choices to make it so. If “it” is to be different, we’re just a series of choices away from drastically changing our lives in whichever direction we see fit.
For every lacking skill set or missing piece of know-how, dumb determination can make up the difference. If you are willing, teachable, steadfast, and determined, you can change your life any way you desire. From the most simple right-where-you-are changes to the big-and-scary-life-overhaul decisions:
Want to lose weight? Decide it and start running.
Want to change jobs? Decide it and start preparing for it.
Want to overhaul your marriage? Decide it and make the first effort.
Want to move? Decide it and start saving the money.
Want to change your social circle? Decide it and start getting connected.
If the thought in your mind right this second starts with “Yeah, but…” then you are not really ready to change your life! There is a tough truth I still wrestle with daily. You can make changes or you can make excuses but you cannot do both.
Starting this blog has been another big change. One I don’t know I would have taken as readily without the confidence that came from redesigning my life 9 years ago. And again 5 years ago when Jack started his business. And again last year when we resurrected our marriage. Change is a muscle. If yours is in atrophy, the easiest way to exercise it is simply to use it. Start small, with your breakfast routine. Grow it from there. You can change your life in any area you choose. Simply get willing to start and keep at it.
So you want to change your life: what’s the cost?
Dreams and big decisions cost time and money. Either you will take control of your time and money to move closer toward your dream, or your time and money will control you for the rest of your life.
But what will people think? Who cares!!! “People” don’t pay your bills, or raise your family, or live your life. YOU do.
When you are determined and willing to commit yourself to a change, and you do not quit, those dreams will come to pass. When you are determined and willing, every ounce of time, money, sweat, heartache, setback, disappointment, recalculation, worry, and frustration will be worth the victory.
So back to the question, do we miss those careers? Well, it was scary to turn the page! We loved the life we had. But I can honestly say, for both of us that no, we don’t miss it. There was even more waiting for us when we took those crazy leaps of faith. And we’ve never looked back.
HP, and cheering you on as you change your life,
The Art of Exceptional Living by Jim Rohn (audiobook)
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell