Choosing between two career paths

What should you do when you want to do everything? If you're fascinated by everything, and you've been called dabbler, dilettante, undisciplined, indecisive etc., this forum is for you.

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Choosing between two career paths

Postby littlewren » Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:08 pm

Hi all,

I think I am a scanner (though not 100% sure) and have been going through the same dilemma in my head for a long time: how to choose between two things I am equally interested in as a career path.

I am currently working as an occupational therapist but have felt unfulfilled and wanting to change careers for about a decade. I constantly fluctuate between two choices: wanting to study holistic nutrition/natural therapies vs. working with animals/wildlife and conservation.

Realistically, I've come to the conclusion that I don't have the time or energy to properly do both. Either career would involve a huge amount of time, dedication and energy to successfully complete the necessary degree and to be able to make a living out of it.

I feel like I am constantly "stuck" and simply go around in circles with this decision... as I said, I'm talking years of feeling paralysed by this! It doesn't help that I'll be 40 in a few years and feel like time is quickly slipping away and that I am somewhat wasting my life. :?

How do I choose one without constantly changing my mind or feeling full of regret about having to give one of them up? Any advice appreciated as I imagine this may be a common scanner issue!! Thanks :)
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Re: Choosing between two career paths

Postby Midaila » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:05 am

Have you thought about what spefically you'd want to do in those fields? Like, which area(s) of natural therapies? Do you want to study them? Use them to help people? Teach them to others? Or, what kind of working with animals? Be a vetenarian, or maybe work in a zoo?

I'd love to hear more :)
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Re: Choosing between two career paths

Postby SquarePeg » Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:05 pm

Three thoughts to sparks ideas about combining these interests...

We took our first dog to a holistic vet.

Have you noticed the pet feeds lately that are grain free, "primal," lo-carb?

Our food (and hence our nutrition) is only as good as the environment it's grown or raised in.
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Re: Choosing between two career paths

Postby skannie » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:36 pm

Hi littlewren.

As a possible scanner, you need to learn a new way of looking at jobs and careers and interests and fulfillment. This whole concept of having a career path, which should provide your main fulfillment in life as well as an income, is not designed for scanners. But it's been hammered into our brains for so long that it's hard to get away from it.

You actually don't need to choose between or give up any of your interests. You should do everything that interests you. But none of them needs to be made into a career or a source of income. And degrees aren't necessary at all.

It doesn't sound as if you hate your present job. You just don't find it completely fulfilling. Well as a scanner it's hard to find any one career that's completely fulfilling. Supposing you stop thinking about occupational therapy as your big career and main life's work, and instead think of it as just a reasonably pleasant and interesting job that pays your bills, so you can do more interesting and important stuff in your free time? Does that make you feel differently about it? Think of Einstein, who worked in a patent office while he was developing his big theories about space and time. It's what Barbara calls a "good enough job".

I suggest you immediately start pursuing both your big interests in the evenings, at weekends and during holidays. There are many voluntary ways of getting experience with animal welfare and conservation, either at home or abroad. And you can learn about nutrition and natural therapy from the internet, the library, evening classes, weekend workshops etc. And you should do the same with any other interests you have.

Maybe after a while you will find opportunities for making money from these interests, and maybe one or other could become your main job, or you could live off multiple streams of income. But trying to make that decision now isn't necessary and is just keeping you stuck.

If you haven't read Barbara's book about Scanners, called Refuse to Choose, I strongly suggest you do, because it explains all this much better than I can and in much more detail.
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Re: Choosing between two career paths

Postby Vickih » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:34 am

You only need to go as far as your own back garden to enjoy wildlife and help protect it/encourage it so my first thought is that you *could* take this up as an interest for evenings and weekends and use your other love to bring your income in.

But one thing I have learned since starting on this self improvement journey is that there are no wrong choices! Just pick one and see how you go with it. Maybe one might even lead into the other naturally, you never know what will happen if you just get started.

Let us know what you've chosen :)
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Re: Choosing between two career paths

Postby littlewren » Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:59 pm

Thanks so much everyone for your thoughtful, supportive responses. :)

#scannie, I do agree with you to a large extent that perhaps I have been "brainwashed" by societal expectations of needing to turn interests into a formal career and that I should be fulfilling my life's purpose via my job. This thinking puts anyone under a lot of pressure to find their one, "correct" life path! Many human beings are far more multi-faceted and complex than that. So yes, I have decided I need to begin pursuing my interests without thinking so much about all the "what ifs?" of the future and simply focus instead on doing things I actually enjoy.

The main difficulty I have currently is that my job can be very demanding emotionally/physically and I often don't have enough energy to spend evenings/weekends pursuing other interests (rather, they are spent "recovering" from my job!) and I have my own health issues to deal with. But maybe I can consider cutting down my hours or trying to find another, less demanding "good enough" job in future.

I also like what you said about not needing degrees. Coming from an academically-focused family, I perhaps have the mindset that only a degree is worth anything, but I'm sure that isn't always the case and it does take the pressure off immensely. Thinking about committing to a 3-4 year degree (or longer, if done part-time) feels so daunting that I become paralysed at the thought. Starting with a short course, certificate or volunteering feels far more manageable than committing to a full degree.

#Vickih, I like what you said about there being no wrong choices. You are right, one thing could lead to another or even take me down a completely different path I didn't expect. The important thing is just to make a start and be open to whatever happens!

Anyway, for anyone interested, the current steps I'm taking are:
1. Gathering information on studying a single subject at uni next year in nutrition and/or wellness.
2. Hoping to volunteer overseas for 2-3 weeks with a wildlife + conservation program.
3. Signed up to volunteer doing occasional wildlife rescues where I live.
4. Recently signed up for a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Animal Welfare through the University of Edinburgh.

I don't know yet if I'll have time for all of these and have absolutely no idea if any of this will lead me closer to a different career but I'm letting that go for now. I just feel better knowing I am taking action and pursuing my passions in some way. Thanks again everyone for your input!
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Re: Choosing between two career paths

Postby Vickih » Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:13 am

As you chuck yourself into these things listen to what your intuition tells you. Notice what feels really good and what doesn't.

Glad you're taking steps though and enjoying the journey so far :)
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Re: Choosing between two career paths

Postby littlewren » Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:26 pm

Yes, I will try to tune into my gut and intuition. Thanks :)
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Re: Choosing between two career paths

Postby Elaine Glimme » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:40 am

The animal rescue activities sound so interesting. And the two courses you chose sound great as well.

The animals you take care of will appreciate what you do. The animal rescue is an important and worthwhile thing to do, and getting paid has nothing to do with its importance. In fact, if you look around, many, many really important things don't have salaries attached. And many people whom we admire, do what they're doing for free.

We all have to pay our bills. And that's important. And maybe you'll find a job that incorporates your loves with a nice salary.

I like what Skannie and Vickih wrote. I'd have said something similar but they beat me to it.

So congratulations on taking a step and trying something new. Enjoy the ride.

"#Vickih, I like what you said about there being no wrong choices. You are right, one thing could lead to another or even take me down a completely different path I didn't expect. The important thing is just to make a start and be open to whatever happens!" - This is true.

Anyway, good luck!
Elaine Glimme - author - "Temporary Address" and "The Molly Chronicles"
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