Diane always loved music. However, as a music teacher and a musician, she often had to take assorted odd jobs to make ends meet. One of these jobs was a three-day temp position creating name badges for a magazine publisher’s convention. She worked under the umbrella of the advertising department.
Diane did such a good job that the advertising department asked her to continue to work one day a week, on her day off from her teaching job. Diane agreed. Then, at the beginning of the long summer holiday, Diane was offered, and accepted, a full-time summer position with the publisher.
And that’s how Diane stepped into what ended up being a thirty-year career in advertising. It was never meant to be her “dream job,” just something to tide her over while her music career took off.
Twenty years into her advertising career, Diane began to realize how disconnected she was feeling, but it would take her an additional ten years to finally be free.
The advertising industry is extremely high pressure and high stress, and the long hours were taking a toll on Diane’s health. So she began to explore various avenues to health and healing, including shiatsu and massage. She even enrolled in a number of training programs to pursue her developing interest in the healing arts, but the long hours that her work demanded meant that she never completed them.
One day, her friend Francis said, “Diane I’ve found the perfect career for you.” At first she didn’t listen as she was tired of spending her money and vacation time taking classes she wasn’t able to finish.
But her friend was insistent, so finally Diane signed up for a session of a healing modality called Guided Imagery and Music (GIM). GIM is a unique form of music therapy, and after one session, Diane was hooked and knew this is what she was meant to do. It was a perfect blend of music, which was her first passion, and her new found love of the healing arts.
However, for the next year, although Diane took regular GIM sessions, she resisted signing up for the first level of the training that would lead to her being a practitioner. She was concerned that work would consume her once again, and it would be yet another unfinished training she would begin.
So Diane was surprised one day when she received a notification from the training institute welcoming her to the program. She called them, excited yet confused. It turned out her brother, who had listened to her for a year saying that this is what she wanted to do, had registered her in the program and paid for her training. Diane cried… happy tears.
At first Diane managed, barely, to balance the requirements of the training program with her demanding work schedule. But when it came to the third and final level of the GIM program, work once more took precedence, and Diane sadly watched as her classmates graduated without her.
Frustrated, tired, and deeply disappointed Diane hit her low point. She didn’t see how she was ever going to free herself from a job that was eating away at her happiness. That was when she met with her counselor in the GIM program, who suggested to her, “Diane, have you thought of taking a sabbatical?” Immediately, Diane had a huge revelation. It felt as if the stars aligned, and in that instant, it was as good as done!
It took a little bit of planning, and it meant cutting back on some expenses for a while, but sooner than she ever thought possible Diane had a whole year to get her health back, complete her GIM training, and decide what was next.
And what was next? Well, Diane never did return to advertising. Instead, she finished her training and is now a Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery. She currently has a thriving private practice that combines two of her greatest passions, music and healing, and is living with Full Wattage.
Diane’s story of falling into a career by default and not by design is unfortunately not that unusual. It’s one of the most common reasons people come to me for coaching. If you find yourself in a similar situation, there are things you can do about it.
Remember, living a purposeful life is about the journey, and there are many ways to get there. We just have to stay open to the possibilities. Sometimes amazing things can happen!
So, what do you most love about your career or business, or what changes would you most like to make?
Excerpted from Liz Fletcher Brown’s book FULL WATTAGE! A Practical Guide to Living an Engaging and Purposeful Life Worth Celebrating. Get your free chapters of FULL WATTAGE! and other goodies.