“What If I'm Only Good For One Thing?”

Serena has worked in her industry for many years, and people know and love her for what she does. She feels like it's time to move on, but she's scared of discovering that her only value lies in an industry she's no longer in love with. What should she do?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm Account Manager for a creative design company.

I started my career in door-to-door sales when I was in my late teens, and have hopped around in the field of sales and client relations for the past 12 years.

How do you feel about your work?

I feel burned out.

I used to be really excited to go to the office; I've always got along well with my colleagues wherever I've worked, and I know I'm good at my job, so there's a sense of satisfaction. I've built up some great relationships with clients over time. And I enjoy the business side of the job too – the figures and strategy stuff challenges my brain.

But these days I'm always exhausted. Not because the job takes up too much time; I just feel as though so much of my time has gone into making other people happy for so long. I wonder what it would be like for me to be happy like that. I can't summon up the same level of energy - and I used to feel it so naturally.

I just think it's time to move on.

What would you like to be doing instead?

There are a number of possibilities that I've considered for a while.

I've always loved art and creative pursuits, and I'd like to see if I can make something of my painting.

I'm also interested in nutrition and alternative medicine, and something about the sustainability and environmental field is attractive to me, too.

Ideally I'd like to take a sabbatical and spend some real time trying these things out before I commit to a new path entirely.

What's the biggest obstacle you're facing in your career change?

If I'm not taking care of people, I don't know who I am.

I've done sales and 'people' jobs for so long. I don't know if I've got anything else valuable to offer.

It's not so much a practical obstacle – I know I can take some time off my job to experiment, or even leave and find a new job if things don't work out – but I can't seem to shake this fear that I'll get out there and change direction and discover that I'm only good for one thing.

It's what everyone likes about me, and what they know me for. Deep down, I'm scared that if I stop doing it, I won't be me any longer.

It's probably silly, but I'm scared.

Can you help Serena?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • What can she do to feel more secure in her decision to change career?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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