Risk VS Reward

Dear Stephie,

I’ve been considering, lately, a complete change of career. I have loved what I have done so far and I’m tired. Like exhausted tired. During the pandemic, I dabbled in learning how to code and found it new, exciting, and challenging. How does one evaluate the risk and reward in such a professional (and life) switch?


Considering a Change

Dear Considering a Change,

If life were a commodity, something we could mathematically analyze and invest in, we might say that evaluating the risks and rewards of a career, and or life change, is as simple as dividing your net profit, in this case, your “new, exciting, and challenging” path, by the price of your maximum risk: leaving a job you love but are “tired, like exhausted tired” of. 

Unfortunately, life isn’t an easy-to-solve math equation. 

In fact, I believe life is closer to Chaos Theory than calculated Arithmetic.

It’s complex and apparently random and will almost always knock us on our asses but, like in Chaos Theory, I’d like to think that disorder is governed by underlying patterns and interconnectedness, weaving a sort of invisible safety net for when we fall.

I call that safety net self-trust and Considering a Change, I think that is what you mean when you ask about how to evaluate the risks and rewards of such a life change. “Do I trust myself enough to fall, scrape my knees, fail even, and then get back up to keep going?” 

My question for you Considering is, do you? 

Do you trust that you can resiliently ride out the waves of change?
Do you trust that, even if coding stops being new and challenging, that you might still find excitement in it? And if you don’t, are you confident that you might find yet another new and challenging endeavor that brings you joy? 

I’m certain you can and you will Considering, but this choice isn’t about me and my certainty, it’s about you and your faith in yourself.

In 2016, I had an early midlife crisis. 

At the root of the crisis was my desire to be  Super Everything, super mom, super wife, super friend, super boss, super super super. My problem? I didn’t have a cape. 

At the time, my youngest child was just over a year old, my oldest was 6, and I was the owner and director of both a Spanish and English language school in Argentina.

Much like you Considering, I was tired, exhausted tired even, but, at the time, it was easy to blame my feelings on postpartum, on not sleeping through the night, on having a teething toddler.

Soon I started resenting my work, not because I didn’t love it but because it kept me from being fully present with what was most important to me: my family. 

Still I pushed onward, drumming up new lesson plans, launching new marketing strategies for summer courses, and attempting to stay on top of the some 100 students we had each academic year. 

In time, I began to notice that resentment spilling over into other areas of my life and realized I was on a hamster wheel of my own making. 

I desperately wanted to finish checking things off my to-do list so that I could spend time with my littles, who desperately wanted my attention, thereby prolonging said checking offs. 

One day I realized that I just didn’t want to do it anymore and I stopped. 

I burned out and it took me several years to feel like me again.

I get the feeling Considering, that you might be somewhere on that path.  Your journey may look  different but there is one thing that I know for sure: the mere fact that you are thinking about a change tells me you are in need of one. 

And that doesn’t mean you have stopped loving your work, it means that something more important is whispering to you.

My advice to you is, listen to that whisper Considering. Listen to it and trust it before it becomes so blatantly blaring that you burn out completely.

There is no amount of analyzing or weighing of the options that will help you knit a better safety net than that. Let that whisper take you by the hand and guide you to what’s next on your life’s agenda. For there is no reward without the risk.

I promise you, the rest will fall into the beautifully chaotic patterns we call life.

Heart in my hand in yours,

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