According to the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung in the first half of life we put our energy into fulfilling society’s expectations, such as starting a career, developing relationships and having a family, while the second half of life requires us to find meaning and purpose in our lives. Discovering meaning and purpose normally begins in midlife but midlife today can be prolonged for various reasons. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, midlife was considered to be between the ages of 43 and 62. The mid-life crisis as we know it today is typically precipitated by a significant event in our lives that causes us to question things on a deeper level, such as going through a divorce, losing a job, the death of a significant other, struggling with an addiction, or simply wondering what my purpose in life is. So what brings me here? Jung’s comments prompted me to consider my own road to a job transition. I changed careers when most others were retiring, and as a result, I finally discovered a deep sense of fulfilment in my work that I had never felt in my previous career.
I recall not knowing what I wanted to do after high school. Still, I knew I was interested in the Humanities: literature, philosophy, religion, and spirituality, usually from a psychological standpoint, so I enrolled in the Humanities program at the University of Toronto. I had a vague idea that I wanted to be a teacher or a professor of literature, so I set that as my educational objective. I earned a master’s degree in literature and philosophy from York University but realized I was not committed to the four or five more years of university to complete the Ph. D program to become a professor.
I needed to work because I had a young family at the time. My brother helped me acquire a job at a telecom business where he worked because I had a natural talent for technology. I rapidly adapted to this new corporate environment and gradually advanced from technical responsibilities to supervisory and managerial positions. For the next 30 years, I worked in the technology industry for various firms, with my most recent role being Chief Customer Experience Officer for a technical consulting firm. I always enjoyed managing people in my career, but I always felt something was missing in my career. I was looking for something more fulfilling. I became certified in several personality assessments to understand myself better and also assist my direct reports in better understanding themselves and their professional goals. I read many books about finding your passion and doing what you love, but I could never connect with it immediately.
I also had my own challenges with addiction and mental health issues, so I sought treatment in 12-step programs and individual therapy, and it was through this process that I learned to develop a deeper understanding of myself. During the pandemic, life paused for me, as it did for everyone else, and I understood that if I wanted to change careers, now was the time to do so. I decided to become a psychotherapist. I wanted to assist people in making self-discoveries and pursuing their unique passions, as I had done. Making a career change when most people my age are retiring was both an exciting prospect yet filled with fear and trepidation. But I also felt that if I did not make this change, I would clearly have a life regret.
When I realized this, I applied to Yorkville University to become a psychotherapist and I was accepted into their Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology Program. I have now finished the course work and I am doing my practicum to become a fully qualified therapist. Every day that I practice therapy with clients my career decision to become a therapist is confirmed. My purpose is to assist people in discovering who they are and what prevents them from having more satisfying relationships and professions. I now have a strong sense of purpose that I never had in my former career. I now have a vocation not a career. As the poet Rumi says “When you do things from your soul, you feel like a river moving in you, a joy,”
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