I am quoting a variety of sources who shifted the key words in Thomas Jefferson’s famous line in the Declaration of Independence. In relation to career happiness, it has led to a breakthrough for a number of my career counseling clients.
These clients were suffering at the thought of paying their dues when as they pondered switching career paths. Fortunately, they moved forward and discovered the happiness of pursuit.
Lillian was a project manager in a large corporation in Fairfield, Connecticut. She had been unhappy for years. She was now burned out. Too many years of slogging through long commutes, dealing with office politics, and uninspiring work had already put in her in a state of semi-depression related to work. But during the last couple years, the unpredictability of her work day in the form of late hours and the insecurity of her job as layoff rumors swirled continually had put her in a state of constant anxiety.
After our first meeting, Lillian was excited. It was almost as if our meeting had given her permission to do what she had wanted to do for years. After our second meeting, she found herself stuck. We had crafted a plan during the first meeting. But Lillian froze when she thought about paying her dues – she would take a significant cut in pay at least for 6 months to a year and the first part of the switch would require some challenging work.
I then discussed the happiness of pursuit. When my career counseling clients have started moving in the direction that they know is right, they are happy in the pursuit despite having to pay their dues.
My friend Abby was an Ivy league law graduate who was working – unhappily – at a high paying law firm five years after graduation. She had always wanted to be a doctor. She was not from money so she would have to shoulder med school loans on top of law school loans. She was 30 years old. People thought she was nuts when she decided on heading back to med school. We had a conversation early on and she was happy even while she was battling through the very large challenges facing her. She was on the right track. She was having happiness in her pursuit.
Having recently reconnected with her, it’s clear she made the right decision.