“I’m thinking of going to nursing school” announced the attractive woman I had never met before today and seated across from me. I was in a group outing and this particular conversation carried on between her and another member of the group. I had finished up another side-conversation and was semi-listening in between bites of food.
“So, do you think you’ll like it? I mean, the blood and stuff?” asked the other party in the conversation.
“I think so…” the attractive woman hesitated for a second and continued “I don’t really have a problem being around it, so I think I’ll be OK” she responded halfheartedly.
My ears perked up at this point. I’ve heard this before. Not the exact conversation, but a strangely similar type of exchange I seem to be having more frequently, with friends and strangers alike.
“Wait,” I interjected myself into the conversation, “why do you want to go to nursing school?”
I was curious to find out after her decidedly less than excited response. The attractive woman was well-dressed, appeared to be in her thirties, so she did not fit the profile of a typical indecisive young woman looking to figure out the best way to join the work force.
“I need a change” she replied.
“What do you do for a living?” I asked. She went on to explain that she was a lawyer, successful too, but tired of the stress and interactions with less-than-ethical peers she had to work with on a daily basis.
“But… why nursing???” I pressed.
“Well, it seems like a career that is in demand and pays well.”
Uh-oh, I thought. MAJOR RED FLAG. Doing something JUST because it pays well, without regard to passion and interest in the profession is a recipe for discontent in the long run. She was likely to achieve the same results that she had experienced at this stage in her career.
“Do you really want to be a nurse?“, someone else chimed in. The others offered opinions on how much more profitable the law career was compared to the medical profession. Others offered opinions on the stress levels each profession offered and how other people each knew coped with them. No one seemed to question the “inevitability” of having to choose between either career, solely because of the financial rewards they offered.
I observed the banter for a bit longer. Sure, I thought to myself, the money is nice… at first. But if you start dreading Monday mornings, chances are that you’ll be stuck in a miserable “Is the weekend here yet?” cycle. Mondays won’t ever stop coming around, whether you’re there to greet them happily or not. Why not strive to make sure that every Monday morning is a joy and not a dreaded chore?
I resumed probing for answers to make sure if I didn’t happen to misinterpret the dispassionate response. Nope, she was definitely not thrilled to embark on her possible new career I concluded. Once I got my answers, I steered the conversation towards my favorite subject and what I enjoy talking to people about most: their true passions and dreams.
“Let me ask you something:” I began, “Suppose you had a million dollars… what would you do? Wait, let me rephrase that. If you did not have to worry about house and car payments, about paying any bills… what would you like to do every day?” Her eyes sparkled. I know the phrase is a figure of speech, but as I write this and recall the conversation, I could almost swear I literally saw the actual gleam in her eyes.
“I would like to work rescuing animals!” she responded excitedly.
I managed to bumble out a “Huh?“.
I would’ve never guessed this was her passion. She definitely looked the “lawyer” part.
“You mean endangered animals?” I followed up.
“No, I’d like to work rescuing dogs. I love dogs!” Her voice surged markedly different than when the nursing topic was first brought up.
Bingo. Here in front of me was someone special that was put on this earth to take care of dogs, nurture them and give them all the love in the world that only certain people were born to do, and she was seemingly stuck in a profession she disliked. And to top it off, she was contemplating a career-change she would likely have to undergo again in a few years.
“Well, have you thought about seeking a career or business that allows you to be around dogs and care for them?” I asked. She stared at me for a moment, without answering, as if the thought was crossing her mind for the first time. I continued “Perhaps you’d like to be involved in the veterinary field, or helping run a dog shelter, or working with a dog-rescue agency.”
To my semi-astonishment, and I say semi-astonishment because I’m starting to expect this reaction the more I engage people in this type of conversation, she was asking for suggestions and processing these ideas apparently for the very first time.
I asked her what would limit her ability to try and seek to do any of those things I mentioned for a living and the topic of income reared its head again. I made the point that being self-fulfilled with your daily activities was more important than working on a profession one disliked just to maintain an arbitrary status level involving minimum required square footage or owning an expensive vehicle or other things. I believe a car-maker’s label is NOT more important than your peace of mind.
She nodded as did others around the table and others appeared deep in reflection. We switched topics shortly after that, lingered around the table making conversation for a little while longer. We agreed to stay in touch and I’m sure this will be a discussion topic in the future, based on her interest in the ideas.
Following Your Passion
I bring this up because it is a great example of how some may think, and I was part of that group not too long ago, that their path in life is a railroad track, one with very few deviations, ending up in a set destination station along with many others.
From my experience, we equate life with the wrong mode of transportation. Life is not to be viewed as a railroad track, but as a sea of opportunity, with few markers along the path. Sometimes we sail along with whatever wind is pushing us, which is great if the wind is pushing us wherever we want to go. But, what about when the wind is pushing head-on against our sailboat?
In a sailboat, just as in real-life, wind that is pushing against the direction you are headed is said to place the boat “in irons” and results in the sailboat being unable to move and in some cases move backwards! And just as in real-life sailing, the solution is to not fight the wind, but to “tack”, or zigzag at an angle, utilizing the same wind pushing against you to catch wind in your sails and move forward diagonally.
Utilize those obstacles in your path as motivation to get your mind thinking about how you can go around the perceived obstacles and achieve your desired goals. Don’t over-think the obstacles right in front of you. Only know that you just have to figure how to get past them, even if you have to take a slight detour around them.
Never wait for the wind to change and be against your back, as you may be waiting for a long time. Progress is the goal, no matter how small, even if it takes you sideways from time to time on your journey.