Change is the Only Constant in Life
I've been thinking a lot about life and its crazy twists and turns lately. Specifically changing careers in later life. How, even as we get older, it is still wise to expect the unexpected and embrace change. Because, as we all know the only constant is change. Or, the origin of that saying, Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.”
I recently ran into an old friend while I was at an event. It was completely unexpected and a welcome surprise to see her.
The first thing she said when she saw me (after she figured out who the heck I am) was, “I have thought about you a million times!”. I mean, it has been probably 35 years since we had seen each other, so yes, I’m sure I’ve thought of her that many times as well.
And catching up on 35 years of life isn’t easy in a chance encounter, but we somehow managed to share all about the basics: marriages (yes, plural for both of us), changing careers (or in her case not changing careers), kids, and grandkids.
And although we’ve both changed a lot in 35 years, that feeling of friendship, kinship, and love is still there. She has the same smile, the same laugh, and the same beautiful spirit. And she recognized me by my smile too.
So, Heraclitus; I would add to your philosophy another quote from French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in 1849, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
The Twisting and Turning Roads of Life
It also occurs to me that when you share about your life in such a quick burst, it sounds like it’s been a straight line from point A to point B. But, man, real life could not be further from the truth, right? There are twists and turns. Stories. Joy. Pain. Laughter. Unspeakable grief. Ups. Downs. Failures. And Triumphs.
And just because you “retire” or as I prefer to phrase it, leave your chosen career, those twists and turns don’t stop. In fact, in the name of all things holy, freedom and flexibility can sometimes make life more confusing than ever! So many options. So many ideas. The possibilities are endless. In my life, I am on my third round of changing careers, and within those careers, there have been various job or company adjustments as well.
Decisions, Decisions - Obstacles and Opportunities
My thought is (and this is completely my thought, not researched in any way whatsoever)...
All changes in our lives are prompted by one of two things. Obstacles or opportunities.
Here’s an example from my early life. Changing careers before my career even began.
I earned a bachelor's degree in Music Education from my hometown university. My only desire was to teach high school choir in the town I grew up in. Obstacle: No jobs teaching high school choir in the town she grew up in. My 22-year-old brain says, “Well, I can either move away or find a different kind of job”.
As a total pansy paralyzed with fear, option 1 was not an option. I was a chicken raised by chickens and was NOT going to move away (insert eye roll here).
So, I got a full-time job working 3:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., 4 nights a week as a Dental Insurance Claims Examiner.
You read that right.
Degree in Music Education. Job as a Dental Insurance Claims Examiner. (insert another eye roll here.)
Life takes over and I spend the next 22 years bouncing from one unfulfilling, terrible-fitting job to the next.
I was being guided by obstacles rather than opportunities.
More Twists - And a Sharp Right Turn
A mindset shift happened (finally, after lots of really crappy stuff happened). I surrendered everything to God and suddenly, things start to go much better.
Rather than being bombarded with obstacles and simply sidestepping or going in a different direction, opportunities start to come my way.
Long story short, I remarried (opportunity), moved to a neighboring town (opportunity), and finally changed careers back to teaching at the age of 43. Yay!
I received my master's degree at 51 years of age. And I taught high school music for 5 years and middle school music for another 8.
I was happy, fulfilled, and serving my passion and God-given skills and talents.
There’s a lesson somewhere in here.
Follow the opportunities and find solutions to the obstacles.
During my teaching career, I started looking for something new to do that would be fun and exciting and maybe would make a little extra cash to help out with college expenses and wedding expenses for our daughters. Something not music or education related. A side-gig! And what that opportunity did for me is amazing. I started to blossom in my creativity, become more confident, make new friends and really enjoy what I was doing.
Time for a change
When the time came to “evolve away” (thank you Serena Williams for coining that phrase) from teaching, the path was clear. Changing careers again at 57.
I would make my side gig my main gig! Easy peasy, right?
Rolling along, growing, and figuring out network marketing, blogging, social media, and all of those things has been a journey full of twists and turns. It’s a lot like peeling an onion. The more I peel back, the more layers there are and the more I realize how much I still have to learn. But it’s good. Learning is challenging and I love a good challenge.
Defining My "WHY"
I did a lot of work this summer and early fall on embracing a growth and abundance mindset as well as really defining my “WHY”. It’s been very enlightening.
When I first wrote down my “WHY” for changing careers and going full-time with my side gig I wrote, “to advance in rank in my company by the next conference”.
It just rubbed me the wrong way. So, erase that…Then I wrote, “to replace my teaching salary within the next two years”.
It dawned on me that this is a GOAL, and not my "WHY". My friend and coach Samantha says, "It's not your why until it makes you cry." So, back to the drawing board.
Back to the drawing board on my WHY.
My WHY (as I define it at this very moment) is to do work that is personally fulfilling in a company that I believe in, and be able to impact others along the way. Oh, and it must be fun and flexible so that I can be there for my family when they need me.
My GOAL is, yes, to replace my teacher salary within the next two years. Because without a goal in mind, a roadmap of sorts leading to a particular destination, then you might end up in the wrong place. Forge ahead.
A New Opportunity - Out of the Blue
The only constant is change, right? I guess old Heraclitus was a smart dude.
Just a week and a half ago, a new opportunity came my way, right out of the clear blue sky. Completely unexpected.
I was cruising along. Taking webinars. Listening to podcasts. Trying to figure out a better way to do the job I’ve been doing. How to serve my people better. Easier for them. Easier for me. On a different platform.
How to implement “online parties” right here on my own website rather than using a social media platform where the algorithm is a moving target.
I went to a party at a friend's house, and start talking shop with the stylist. Getting ideas on how I could use some of her methods in my own business.
And in the conversation, a lightbulb moment happened. This company has already figured all of this out. All of the things I’ve been trying to create on my own are already done. Hmmm.
Now, let me pause for just a moment and explain something about me.
I stay with things too long. In the name of loyalty and commitment. I stay with things beyond their useful time frame.
I also cannot do too many things at once, or all things suffer.
I have a decision to make. Stay with the path I’m on. Or jump off and try something that is a better fit.
This time, I’m going to take the leap. It may be crazy. It may not work out. But, I’m jumping in head first, eyes wide open.
I know that things are NOT always greener on the other side. But I also know that if I don’t try this, I’ll always wonder “what if?” and I’m too old for that crap.
With every new beginning comes an ending
With all life-changing decisions comes the juxtaposition of Guilt and Grief with Excitement and Anticipation.
I remember when I left one teaching job for another because I needed to have more flexibility with my evening time when my own kids were starting high school. I loved the current job I was in. Loved the students, the families, and my co-workers. But I had to do what was best for me and for my family.
I’m in the same boat now. I love the company I’ve been with for over 4 years. I love my team, my leader, and my customers. But, I am being “pulled in a new direction” (shout out to my musical theater fans out there who get this reference) and I think I like it.
It's Never Too Late for Change
Life doesn’t end at 30. or 40. or 50. or beyond! STOP acting as if it does! Go for your dreams.
If you're interested in hearing more about the opportunity I'm grabbing onto, check out my Work With Me page for more information.
Tell me something you’re proud of that you did AFTER you turned 40 in the comments!