Working It Out: Contemplating a career shift

Many women consider a career change after having children. Again and again I hear this sentiment: “If I’m gonna be away from my kids, I’ve gotta love what I’m doing”. Funny enough, I adopted this outlook even before my daughter was born. As she was growing in my womb, I was already conceiving my new fitness career.

I think it’s safe to say that my decade-long career in advertising and marketing is over.  I think. No more corporate clients, no more late-night revisions, no more questionable ethics. I’m trading my pumps and briefcase for runners and a gym bag. OK I never owned a briefcase but you get the point.

I got things rolling last year with two fitness certifications – Personal Trainer and Pre & Post Natal Fitness Specialist. I also worked part-time as a Running Room clinic coach. Loved that job! Even with these new skills under my belt, I’m not quite sure where I’ll go from here.  A gym job? A recreation role? Unrelated work that finances my competition training? Protein powder and sparkly suits don’t come cheap, LOL. I have a grandiose long term vision but no short term plans. 

Feeling a bit lost, I decided to browse some jobs sites. Perhaps a job description would stand out and give me some ideas. It worked. One caught my attention. It was a full-time program management job with the YMCA. The role was essentially planning and managing all the adult fitness and recreation programs at the central location. Sweet, right?

A mental picture formed in my head. Me  promoting healthy living, managing new fitness programs, even upgrading gym equipment. Shopping is always a great part of a job description. Then other pictures formed. Me leaving my daughter to day care in the morning. Working nine to five. Answering to upper management every day. Me stuck on a slow streetcar home at night. Me trying to squeeze in weekday workouts. Me kissing all my other plans goodbye. Not to mention having the YMCA song play perpetually in my head, LOL.

Not a good look!

The thing is, I’m not interested in full-time work. I’ve had a taste of the three-day work week. Now there’s no going back. Try it and you may never work five days again. I want the extra time with my daughter. I also want the extra time to train and develop my own business. So why did I briefly consider applying for this job? It was the role itself that reeled me in. I really like the idea of creating  and managing fitness programs.  Well, guess what? I don’t need the YMCA to do that. Aha!

The application deadline came and went. I did not apply. Instead of updating my resume, I took a closer look at my own interests. Whether I’m training, coaching, programming, educating, competing, modelling or writing,  the ultimate goal is self-employment. The ultimate goal is to have flexible work days and weeks. I don’t believe that a full-time job is the next step to get there. I don’t think.

A better way to spend the day, wouldn't you say?

Workshops and photo shoots; consults and pitches; coaching and mentoring; mother-daughter trips to outdoor markets; mid-morning runs by the lake; afternoon business meetings on a patio – this is the ultimate goal.

I sense I have a lot to look forward to. I will be brave and forge ahead, perhaps without the security of a handsome pay cheque or traditional benefit package for now. Perhaps. I anticipate unique benefits that far outweigh a dental plan and eye care.

It’s true. Whatever pulls me away from my daughter will have to be something I love. But this career change was underway with or without baby. Whatever work I wake up to day-by-day has to be something I love. I look forward to sharing the next steps with you And to finding out what they are myself!

SIDEBAR: I once heard Erica Ehm speak at an event for film students. I’ve always remembered her advice, “leap and a net shall appear”. Erica, among other things, is the founder and CEO of the Yummy Mummy Club – a role inspired by her own motherhood experiences. Huh.

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