As my daughter is starting to consider a career in medicine, it's caused me to reflect back on my own career choices.
You see, I almost did study medicine. In fact, I nominated it as the second choice on my University application, even though Engineering, the course I did end up taking, was far easier to get into.
What would life have been like if I'd taken that path? Would becoming a doctor have made life easier? Would a career in medicine have satisfied me?
A major career like medicine can be like a yellow brick road. You do have choices along the way but it's pretty hard to stuff up all together. And the longer you stick with it, the more highly regarded and respected you will surely become.
Was I silly not to have pursued it? Had my insistence on taking the load less traveled, to be a rebel, go my own way, only assured me of making life more difficult than it needed to be?
I've had to reinvent myself several times over the years, starting all over at the bottom of the ladder each time. Many times, I was again the awkward rookie, struggling just to understand the industry's language. Do you remember what that's like?
There have been many times where it's been incredibly tiring and, of course, hard work.
Choosing to leave the yellow brick road of my engineering career and pursue self-employment has also been a financial roller coaster.
There have been times I've considered selling the house only to find myself booking an overseas holiday just months later.
The challenges have been constant and mostly self inflicted.
After about six years in a career, I feel I've mastered it and find myself wanting to do it all over again. I've always found it difficult to understand how people can do the same work for 20 or 30 years. Stimulation and challenge are extremely important ingredients for my happiness quota.
Yes, this has come at a prize. I've foregone security and predictability in exchange for feeling challenged and the thrill of starting all over again in a new field.
Self-employment and entrepreneurship have given me incredible freedom and flexibility: the freedom to be creative, to try new things, to challenge myself and to grow on a personal level.
I'm not saying you cannot grow and challenge yourself if you're an employee, but I feel fairly certain that, had I remained in my Engineering career, I would have been unlikely to step outside its safe confines.
For me, it's growth, both mine and that of the people I work with. I love to help others grow, inspire them and help them inspire themselves to reach for their dreams and stretch themselves.
Continuously stretching myself and my own comfort zone has given me immense satisfaction. Diving into something new and unknown is what gives me my kicks, be it a new startup venture with a business partner, writing a book or starting a new business in a new industry. If I'd stayed safely tucked under the one career umbrella, that level of excitement would surely not have been part of the equation.
We can spend our whole lives looking across the fence to see if the grass might be a little greener on the other side, wondering if we missed out, if we made a wrong choice or could have done better.
The one thing I'm in left in no doubt at all about is that we always have a choice and can make a change, no matter where we currently are. This I know for sure and my life has been nothing but proof of that.
How exciting that we all have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves whenever we choose.
You also have that choice and opportunity, no matter how you may be feeling at the moment. If you're not deeply fulfilled and satisfied by your career, decide what would satisfy you. What are you really all about and how can you express this through your work?
What work can you do to fully express your authentic self?
It may only require a slight tweak, a new approach, a sideways move or it may take a radical change.
Either way, the world is your oyster, my dear.
So how would you like it? Natural or Kilpatrick?
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