Friday, December 10, 2010

Is it selfish to change careers?

This is a question that has been popping into my brain over the past few years, whenever I've thought about changing my career.

What gives me the right to suddenly change direction, when its impact will have effects on others?  For a few years, our family won't have the same financial situation that we currently enjoy (but they will see more of mom, and see a much happier mom & wife, so that counts for something too!)  However, financial rewards will continue, as soon as my degree is finished.  It's not as if I'm leaving the work force forever.

I compare my situation to others (perhaps that is a fundamental mistake).  I see people struggling to bring in enough money to look after their families, working sometimes several jobs that they clearly don't enjoy doing.  Yet, they keep at it as they have responsibilties.  I admire this. 

I see immigrants landing in my country, well educated professionals where they came from, only to find themselves doing menial jobs here, often beside high-school students.  Yet they continue.  They have responsibilities.  I admire this too.

I find myself in a completely different scenario.   It is not about 'having' to keep doing this career, it is about 'wanting' to do something different.  My future career plans are well thought out, do-able, within a finite time frame, and have a attainable outcome. 

However, we are in a position in our lives, where keeping the status quo would be so simple.  So incredibly simple.  I could cut back my hours to part-time, have more time at home with the kids and actually be able to even do some personal interest stuff, that I love to do, such as music, writing and water-colour painting.  Maybe even continue to do my medical-related volunteering, like I used to do.

Yet, job passion and satisfaction would still be missing.   But what gives me the right to look for job passion, satisfaction and fulfillment, when so many others have it so hard?  I tell myself that I really have so much to give others in the medical field.  This field chose me long ago, not vice-versa.  I think that fact is at the core of both why I cannot stay in my current, easy-living career, and why it is not selfish to change careers.

I have so much to give to others, I love sharing and helping.  I love doing things for others that are appreciated and valued.  Doing such things is a core value of mine.  I have always absorbed anything medical like a sponge.  It was always the most interesting possible area to learn about. 

I feel I'm not using my abilities, and I'll even go as far as saying my life, to its full potential.  Yes, I could carry on my easy, comfortable life, or I could really live to my full potential.  When I think about it, I think that the people in the situations I described above, if they were in my shoes, I bet they'd jump at an opportunity to live their passions.  I've worked hard to get to where my family currently are.  If there is now a chance to work again to achieve something different, so be it. 

No, it is not selfish to change careers.  One must look at how a current situation is impacting the bigger picture, positively and negatively, and weigh the pros and cons of staying and changing.  If somebody feels OK staying where they are, and are motivated by financial reward and having an easy lifestyle, stay where you are.  If somebody feels their potential is under used and valued, and it is realistically feasible to make a change, then go for it. 

As a person I know, for whom I have a lot of respect for, said to me this past summer when we were discussing my wanting to switch careers to nursing, "You know, you won't regret doing this."  And I know the opposite of that statement would also be true.

It is OK to change, even if much time, money and effort has been invested in an earlier career venture.  Change can be scary.  Embrace it, as life is all about change.  It is not static.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think it's selfish to change careers, I think it's learning to be yourself :-)