I often pride myself on being one of those people who actually enjoys change. For instance, when at work, I’m normally the person who suggests we try things a bit differently. I figure, if it doesn’t work better, we can go back to the way it was.
Want to try a new software system? I’ll try it. How about a new route to work? Sure. Bring it on. Pinterest recipe? I’m on it.
What’s interesting is that despite my genuine love of change, I tend to be unwilling to try to change things in my personal life. I have stayed in relationships that I knew were going nowhere, stayed at jobs I was miserable at, and spent time with people I knew to be a bad influence on me. It seems that in my personal life, I’m unable to make the most important of changes. Often times to my own detriment.
It seems that somewhere in my mid-forties, I got over this reluctance to make big changes in my life. I pushed the self doubt and fear from my mind and took a huge risk. Now, that being said, I did so only after doing much research and determining the best possible path to make said change.
Let me explain:
For the better part of my adult life, I, like most of you, have worked for someone else. I’m an accountant. Always have been. It’s like, the most conservative field there is. I was comfortable there, so there I stayed. Day in and day out. Working for someone else. Knowing that no matter how hard I worked, my salary and success was based on someone else’s perception of me and my performance. And quite frankly, normally I worked for people who didn’t know anything about accounting. Yet these were the people I needed to impress with my knowledge of debits, credits and financial statements!
This past fall, I’d had enough. Like most people who make the change I was thinking about making, I realized I was working too hard for too little money and not nearly enough recognition. I was coming home each and every night completely and utterly exhausted. The slightest thing would upset me and I would take out my frustration on my children. I couldn’t muster the energy to do much of anything in the evenings and if asked to drive one of my children anywhere, it was all I could do to haul myself off the couch and make my way to driver’s seat of the minivan.
I had to make a change. I had to take control of my life. But what to do? I had an accounting degree, which was marketable, but changing jobs would only put me in the same place – working for someone else.
Then I began to think about what made me happy. What did I enjoy doing?
Well, I’ve always enjoyed crafts, but I’m no Martha Stewart. I’m an animal lover but I wasn’t about to walk dogs for a living (Not that dog-walking isn’t a very respectable job; it’s just not for me).
Then it began to dawn on me. I was an HGTV addict. Every night, I came home and would watch HGTV. It didn’t matter what was on. As long as there was something on the channel, it was on at my house. I’d pick up those free magazines that were located at the exit of grocery and convenience stores. You know, the ones that list all the houses in the area that are for sale? I’d peruse them contantly, despite not being in the market for a new house.
I’d had a listing book account for the better part of fifteen years and would peruse that website just to see what homes were on the market. That was when it hit me.
I was going to get my real estate license.
The decision was the easy part. The work that followed was the challenge. Research, research, and more research. I called real estate firms and other real estate agents to find out what was involved, what the costs were, how you got started in the business, and anything else I could think of to ask. Once I felt as though I had enough information, I registered for the class and picked up my textbook.
I read many of the chapters and took the sample exams at the back of each chapter before continuing on. I felt confident. While I wasn’t getting perfect scores, I found the material easy to understand.
Then I got to class. It was filled with people who had taken the class before and were taking it again for the second or even third time. My confidence began to wane. Instead of backing away from the work, I pushed harder. I did every thing the instructor said to do.
If he said read each chapter three times, I did that.
He told us to take each exam countless times.
I did that.
By the end of the three month course, I felt as though I’d done nothing but study!
Thankfully, all the hard work paid off. I passed my class exam, took the state exam the following week and passed that as well. I was now a licensed real estate broker!
It was only one week after passing the exam that I was approached by another real estate agent who offered me a position with her company. After meeting with the recruiting manager, I decided it was a good fit.
Then the full impact of what I’d done hit me. I was about to embark on something that, while exciting, was fraught with challenges. For I was about to leave the “security” of working for someone else. A position where vacation, sick and holidays were given to me. I had health insurance. A pension plan. Benefits that most people desire and strive to obtain.
And I was actually thinking about giving it all up.
But then I thought about it and realized that this would be the opportunity of a lifetime. While the path I’d chosen had its challenges, I knew I’d be much happier in a position where the only one I was accountable to was me.
I made the leap. I embraced the change and took a chance on myself. And honestly? I’m thrilled about my decision.
And the best part? I think I’ll be great to work for.
Donna Small is the author of Just Between Friends, A Ripple In The Water, and the forthcoming Through Rose Colored Glasses. She lives in Clemmons with her two daughters and their pet menagerie. She is desperately trying to start her real estate business while writing her next novel.