As you may know, I am heading back into the working woman’s world after 12 years of being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). The skills needed to be a success in the working world definitely come more naturally to me. Staying home was not easy for me and required that I change how I interact with and perceive my world. This transition was not an easy adjustment but I worked really hard on getting better at it. I feel like just as I am getting good at this SAHM thing, I am leaving it to return to the Working Mom World. I am hopeful this transition will be relatively painless and that I can find the balance I thrive on. I know it won’t be easy but this next step in my life is important to me.
So many women have asked how I decided on a career choice. All I can say is that it was a journey. Here is my advice:
Background: Before kids, I worked in the healthcare and the veterinary fields. During my SAHM stint, I started a part time photography based business and volunteered… a lot. Although I wanted to be with my children, I really needed to maintain my sense of self and direction. My brain needed the stimulation. During these 12 years, I had many ideas of what I wanted to do with my future. I was in a prime spot to take classes, especially with the introduction of online classes. But I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So how did I settle on becoming a health educator? How can you find your passion?
Keep a journal: From day one, I started keeping a list of all the careers I might like to do. The final 50+ item list consisted of things I was experiencing at the moment and included jobs like: Montessori teacher, psychologist, photographer, writer, doctor, entrepreneur, actuary, business analyst, physical therapist, naturopathic doctor, and medical engineer. As you can tell, most of these require lots of additional schooling and money so that wasn’t going to fly. Although I still would love to do many of these things, my commitment to them is not strong enough to spend the time and money, not with kids heading to college soon.
Get to know yourself: I think it is important to get to know yourself, well. What are your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes. What are you passionate about? Why are passionate about them? What type of things are important to you? What type of things are not important to you? Are you willing to go back to school? Do you have some traits or emotional baggage that you need to work on first? Do you like a 9-to-5 job or flexible schedule? With what type of personalities do you work best? Do you want to work alone or on a team? Do you like consistency or do you thrive on change? How well do you work with others? What is in your heart? If asked what you want to do, what is the first thing that pops into your head?
Take personality tests: I know this sounds crazy but you can learn about yourself by taking personality tests. Not those Facebook ones, but reputable ones or ones that align with your beliefs. For instance, in the 1990’s, I took a career interest test in a therapist’s office. Back then, there were no career counseling coaches. At that time, it said my interests aligned most with being an actuary. I did end up working in an acuarial department and really liked it but that was then, this is now. I am different and so I needed a more up to date inventory of myself. I have also taken the Myers-Briggs and “What Color is Your Aura” tests. By the way, the Aura color test I took was in the book “Life Colors: What Color is Your Aura” by Pamala Oslie. I am not sure about all the online tests but if you are drawn to that, go for it. Have fun exploring yourself…honestly exploring yourself. The more you know yourself, the better decisions you can make on your own behalf.
Take a career test: One of the most helpful tools I used to find my new career was the MAPP career test at www.assessment.com. After taking the test, you get a few basic ideas but do need to pay for more in depth information and carreer support. I think I purchased the lowest level which got me 5-10 careers in different categories. I then was able to get more details on a couple of those. There were some avenues I knew I could throw out so that helped to narrow things down. This is where I found Health Educator. I have never heard of this as an actual profession. I was then able to dig into the career growth potentials, education requirements, certifications/credentialing, and opportunities.
Hire a Professional: There are Life Coaches, Career Coaches, and Career Counselors that can help you with your goals. You may find the relationship and personal guidance very helpful. Life Coaches have skills and tools that are aimed towards helping people identify and achieve personal goals. They may or may not be licensed professional therapists. A Career Coach focus on work and career goals. While a Career Counselor tends to be a professionally licensed therapist (LISCW, Psychologist, etc) who specializes in career and work counseling.
Once I found the Health Educator (CHES) career and thought this could really work for me, it took a couple years to research and really sit with this decision. I eventually found an online degree that worked for me and that I could afford and the rest is history. Everything seemed to work out…that’s when you know it’s right.
When I look back, what I realize is that this new career encompasses all that I have done in my past “lives” and includes bits of those other career choices that I have always been drawn to. It has aspects of medicine, healthcare, pyschology, sociology, analytics, it’s process-oriented, requires good interpersonal communication skills, and requires some level of creativity. My life has sort of come full circle. There were no wrong ways, no mistakes. All that I experienced and learned was part of my path.
Now, the journey isn’t ever over. My career will continue to evolve and may or may not look like what I originally envisioned. That’s part of the fun of life. It is never boring! However, I know am headed somewhere that feels right for me.
Enjoy finding your passion and your place.
You never know where it will lead.