Now Is The Time For Plotting A New Course

“After thirty, a body has a mind of it’s own.” ~ Bette Midler

As I touched upon briefly last week, I find myself in the position of needing to look for a new job, and probably a whole new career. I can’t really go into too much detail about why that is right now, although I hope to be able to write about the experiences that have led me to this point further down the line. For now, suffice it to say that I’m basically right back at a square that looks remarkably like the one I landed on the day after my graduation. As the number of jobs available in my sector diminishes daily it seems to be time to pick a whole new ball game.

I think that this is supposed to terrify me. It certainly did last time I tried it. But I’m actually quite excited. The more I think about it, it even feels as though this is the natural point in my life to finally be deciding what I actually want to do with it.

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was twenty-one and first needing to decide what direction to take. I hadn’t really even worked out who I was by then. And looking at the options spread out before me was like standing on the edge of an ominous black hole with no real conception of what lay in wait for me once I’d stepped inside it.

I’d never had a grown-up job before, so I had no idea what professional life was really like. Had no idea what kind working culture I would be suited to, or what work I would be best at. All I had was the crippling insecurity that came with knowing how hard I’d found it trying to fit in anywhere else before.

It’s no wonder I, and so many of my contemporaries made the wrong first, second, and even third choices. With so little hard information and no real experiences to inform our decisions the odds were stacked against us.

Fast forward ten years, however, and I can almost believe that the world really is my oyster.

I know who I am now. I have the confidence that comes along with the fact that now, most of the time, I genuinely know what I’m doing and what I’m talking about.

I’m no longer bluffing along blindly in the hope that no-one notices and fires me like I did in my first job. Right up to the point where they noticed. And fired me.

Before I take my next step I can make a properly informed decision. And I feel better placed to think about taking a few risks on doing what I really want because I’m able to formulate a realistic contingency plan for if things don’t work out the way I’ve planned. I’m starting over with the self-assurance to pursue opportunities that my younger self considered out of her league.

And it’s got me thinking that maybe all the pressure we put on young people to make concrete choices and to succeed right out of school, or college, or university is coming at the wrong time in their lives. I mean sure, there are some kids who decided when they were toddlers that they wanted to be doctors, or plumbers, or lawyers, or artists, and are well and truly set on their merry way to achieving those goals by the time they reach their late teens and early twenties.

But for those others. The ones who are left feeling as though the whole fate of their lives is resting on a decision that they’re making as blindly as if their studies had been an extended period of spinning before they have to pin the tail on a donkey. Maybe we should be encouraging those kids to go out and gather more information, about themselves, about their potential choices, and about the world. To postpone their decisions about what they really want to do with their lives until those decisions can be more properly informed.

And maybe those of us whose time in education was long enough ago that it almost feels as if the memories happened to someone else, should be encouraged to pause to take stock and reassess our choices when we’ve reached a place of relatively greater stability. To make sure we didn’t actually wander into someone else’s dream life by mistake, instead of the one we wanted, and to be sure that we’re heading boldly on the right course going into the next phase of our lives.


18 thoughts on “Now Is The Time For Plotting A New Course”

  1. Good luck with the next step and making that decision! I’m also in a field where jobs are shrinking – so I may well find myself in a similar situation in the next few years.


  2. It’s a frightening space to be in, when you confront the ‘what next?’ the ‘what now?’ for the first time. When you’ve hit your goals and your five year plans (if you had those, that is). It amuses me in a way that we’ve stumbled into courses and spaces and jobs and people.. and somehow, here we are now: realising and knowing and being certain about a few things. It’s a good place to be. It means you’re better prepared for the ‘what ever comes next?’ question.

    And it’s OK if you don’t have a clue. You’ll figure it out.


  3. Wow, you hit the nail on the head with how i’m feeling right now. I went directly to college after high school, it took me six years and a few majors but I finished. And now after I did what i’m “supposed to” have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.
    Best of luck in your new adventure 🙂


  4. I always question people who claim to have their shit completely together. I mean, who ever really knows exactly what they’re doing? I don’t. Too much fun to ride the rocky road. Have fun plotting.


    1. I would never say that I have my shit completely together. I mean, it takes strong, daily medication to keep me functional for a start. But work-wise I feel I can safely say that I have a lot more of a clue what I’m looking for with a bit of experience behind me than I did when I was first starting out. And it is quite exciting.

      I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the ride 🙂


      1. Yeah, depression has a way of moving your shit without you knowing. That ol’ malevolent, witch godess-like chestnut.

        I read your about section, and I’ve got to say that I’m extraordinarily impressed at your having lawyered. I’m bout to finish off law school next month; the mere thought of working in that corporate world knots my stomach. Managing depression and law is a feat I’m not (would never be) willing to battle through. Kudos. And may the luck be with you.


  5. My husband has just turned 30 and he is FINALLY realising he has the courage to plot a new course (as you say). He felt the pressure all his life to be what fitted in with what his parents wanted him to be – a blue collar guy raking in big money on the mines. They didn’t want him to achieve academically because neither of them did and it makes them insecure to this day. They are intimidated by those who are “white collar” or have “higher” qualifications. He tried to please them and be someone they would be able to talk to. He’s realised that his current career path never really sat properly with him and now he’s looking into project management and other related pathways. He thought he had to be just one thing all his life – like his dad was. I reminded him that although we are the much maligned Generation Y, the joy of it is that we don’t have to stay in one career for 40 years and have one employer. We can stretch our wings, continue to learn and grow, make changes when we need to. I’m so proud of him that he is finally thinking outside of the box and realising it’s OK to try something new in the search for professional fulfilment.


    1. I’m glad to hear he’s making his way to the right path. My old English teacher used to tell us that we should go as far in terms of study as we could. But she warned us that once we became more qualified than anyone our parents had known, especially if we went to university, then we couldn’t expect to just come back and fit in like everything was the same. Her father was a miner, and once she’d been away and got her degree their relationship was never the same. She thought that it was a shame but worth it, as she could never have been a housewife, which was what she’d been expected to be.
      I hope his new course works out well for him.


    1. Hi, thank you! I’m so glad you liked it 🙂

      And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your comment. My spam filter caught it by mistake, and I don’t check it very often because you’re the first mistake it’s made so far.


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