What's next? Aiming for a career.

Final post in the Path to Employment series.

I currently have a great part-time job working for my brother and the B-RAD Podcast. And between the draft and publish stages of this blog series (about 2 months for six posts) I conceived, built the framework for, and launched Freedom Education on Patreon. A short term project, another part-time job. (Talk about a lot of balls in the air right now.)

Moving forward I want to chart a career path for myself into this next stage of life; to define my goals, make plans, and pursue those. I don't want just jobs, or projects, but a strong sense of vocation. My work with Brad and Patreon is part of the process, helping me learn things about myself (and the work I really want to do), gain experience, and build skills. While meeting a very real financial need.

It's a learn-as-you-go process like everything else in life but I'm also being very intentional (and courageous) as I self-assess, define my goals, and invest energy in actual career planning.

I don't have a theme or word-of-the-year for 2019 but I think this career focus is where a lot of energy exchange will happen. I don't want to say "spending my energy" because it's not about giving out with no return. The discovery process, planning, and doing is both an investment of energy in my future (in which there will be a theoretical return) but also an exchange of energy in the present since I receive a lot of positive self-affirming energy (mostly as increased confidence) as I do the work, take risks, and see the impact of my work in other people's lives. I gain as much as I give, probably more.

After a personal breakdown and re-building, a faith deconstruction and re-imagining, a marriage crisis and renewal, and the growing of our kids into late teens and young adults - the last five years of my life - I'm now at a place where I want an actual plan for moving forward, and not just to follow the breadcrumb trail as I was willing to do for the last couple years.

In January 2017 I was writing about my goals for growth in community and hospitality and I said this:

I don't know how this will work itself out in our lives, in our year. But like with calling and vocation, I'm not trying to figure out the big, grand picture I'm following the breadcrumb trail of curiosity, step by step by step.

Following the trail of curiosity was good for the past season. It was all I could give. But now I'm ready to actively chart this process. I am thinking about where I want to be in ten years, twenty years, and how I'm going to get there.

Give the girl a map, I LOVE maps!

I did that with homeschooling and raising kids. The goal was to create a home that supported a loving family culture and nurtured each person's development. We wanted to provide for our kids' growth and education through to high school and to raise kids who had the tools for adulthood.

And look, we're here! Nearing the end of this phase. I see the end on the horizon.

We've raised some good humans who feel loved and supported and have the tools for adulthood. Check. (Yes, they will probably remain at home for a while but we won't have the influence, nor the responsibility, as we did in their childhood years.)

Time to get moving on the next goal.

I ended my previous work series in November 2016 with this:

These days, Damien and I are actively discussing, after a year and a half hiatus on the subject, our vision for the next stage of life. We are listening to each other's hearts and asking ourselves, how do I support my spouse to be everything she/he feels called to be? What was once a wound and a broken place is slowly healing.

That wound is now healed and no longer tender. Hiking the Long Trail last September was the confirmation of this for me.

We've been listening to each other for the last couple years and doing the busy and resource-intense work of homeschooling teens and mentoring young adults, which is also a lot of listening. But we've also been actively dreaming about our future, talking about possibilities, and opening doors into rooms we had closed in the painful aftermath of our hike.

We're at the beginning stages of setting financial priorities for our post-child raising years (right now everything goes to that endeavor). We're considering where we might live and how to accomplish that, and looking at careers and jobs through the lens of middle age. And my income earning work, in the present and looking forward, features heavily into these discussions. It's going to be a combined effort financially, to meet these goals.

This figuring-out time is not a fast process. I'm not going to pop back on the blog in a month with a career plan. But probably in the next year or 18 months I'll write a third work and career series which tells the story of a path, a pursuit, and a plan.

Will the plan involve a master's degree? I don't know. Other training of some sort? Maybe. Building a business? Possibly. Zeroing in on a segment of society in which I want to work? Hopefully. A re-vamped bio and LinkedIn profile? Definitely.

What's your story?

Do you have story of a midlife career change? Did you move from one career track to another. Or from homemaking/homeschooling/caregiving into the working world, or maybe the reverse? Or did you stay in the homemaking/caregiving realm but shift focus somehow?

How did you do it? What did you learn about yourself along the way? What do you love about your new roles, your new work? I'd love to hear your experiences.

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  • Lisa Zahn

    Lisa Zahn on Feb. 14, 2019, 3:22 p.m.

    Again, I just want to say I'm loving this series as I'm in a similar stage of life. I also want to get in on this comment thread so I can see if others comment, because I'd love to read some answers to your questions at the end.

    I've struggled mightily with moving from what I felt is/was my true life calling--motherhood and homemaking--to the empty nest stage where now I have to work (for financial reasons as well as the fact I need something to do because "sitting around" won't cut it for my self-esteem or marriage relationship). I feel like I've gone through all 5 stages of grief about it--for my kids growing up but also for myself having to change focus from what I really loved.

    Unlike you, I don't want a career and I'm now fairly content/in the acceptance stage of just calling what I do as a copyeditor a "job." I really don't care about a career at all, but you do have me thinking about the term "vocation"--which used to mean something to me. I'm going to do some thinking about what that means in my life now.

    Thank you for this series that speaks to those of us in this life stage--even if we all choose different paths.


  • Tiffani

    Tiffani on Feb. 14, 2019, 3:31 p.m.

    I'm sorting some of these same things through myself. Our youngest transitioned from homeschooling to middle school this past fall, and my 16 year role as home educator ended, for the most part. I am thinking and praying about what the future holds. I was trained as a pharmacist, but have not kept up with that and would have to put a tremendous amount of work into catching up with it, for a job that I really didn't enjoy in the past. My first step forward is addressing some sin issues in my life, such as lack of self-discipline, and dealing with purging and decluttering our home (including all the homeschool materials).


  • Julie

    Julie on Feb. 14, 2019, 4:25 p.m.

    I love this series and I think there are so many women on a similar path. I still have several years with homeschooling my kids, but am starting to see what it might look like to use my unique gifts and strengths in a vocation. I am a nurse by trade and I always thought I would go back to school and get my Bachelors or Masters in nursing. (I have an associates). Around four years ago I took a health coaching course because I felt like I had a little brain power coming back to me and wanted to see if I would be able to start take online college courses. I didn't expect to see a new passion arise, but it did. I loved the idea of health and life coaching and it felt like a perfect fit. I started a blog, but only managed to blog a few times a year. But it was this last Spring that I felt like God saying it was time to start working on this business. The backstory is I need a lot of margin in my life, I have four kids ages 8-13 who I homeschool, and am not a gal who wants to spend my days hustling, staying up late, etc to get work done. So I know that my growth will look different than someone else, but right now my main value is homeschooling my kids and there is only so much energy available. ;)I am learning what it looks like to own being an entrepreneur and allowing myself to even call myself that! It's so far out of my comfort zone. But I'm thankful for the space to grow slow.

    I'm so curious to see as my kids get older what this will unfold to look like.

    For so many of us raising our families and homeschooling were such a strong part of our value set and calling it can be scary and confusing to step into something else and own it. But I believe we all have a unique skillset and gifting and it's an honor to make our mark on the world in a new way.

    Renee, I appreciate all of the personal growth and learning that you share about your journey with this new transition. I can't wait to see where you end up. You have such a beautiful heart and lovely giftings.


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Feb. 14, 2019, 4:50 p.m.

    That is so interesting. I think you should turn this into another Patreon course: Finding your path after the childrearing years (including career, supporting each other as a couple in this endeavor, financial reality, finding your purpose again, etc.). We are nearing this and I'm really looking forward to follow along.


    • Renee

      Renee on Feb. 14, 2019, 5:05 p.m.

      Catherine, I've thought the same thing!

      Right now I'm just figuring it out I don't know how much I could "teach", I could create community and perhaps bring in teachers.... At least with homeschooling, I know what I'm doing (mostly! and some days not at all!) And I feel semi-confident teaching from 20 years of parenting experience. I don't have that much experience with this new stage.


  • Tina Triplett

    Tina Triplett on Feb. 15, 2019, 1:21 a.m.

    When my youngest of 4 was in 3rd grade I started working part-time at my kids' elementary school as an aide. Four years ago, when he was a junior in high school, I began (at age 48) to work toward my teaching license with a masters (an option in my state of the US). We both graduated at the same time. When he went off to college I went off to a full-time teaching position in a 2nd grade classroom. I'm not going to say it doesn't have it's challenges--I really miss part-time work--but it does help pay the bills with two still in college. While I love being at home, the empty nest can get lonely with a husband who travels often with his work, so knowing I have a classroom to plan for gives me a purpose. An added bonus is my daughter started teaching a year before I did, so when we talk (she's in another state), I relate perfectly with her work stress!

    Good wishes to you, Renee, as you forge your new path.


    • Renee

      Renee on Feb. 15, 2019, 2:55 p.m.


      What a great story! And thanks for sharing your journey. How cool that you and your daughter can geek out on shared work experiences.


  • Amanda

    Amanda on Feb. 15, 2019, 1:24 a.m.

    Oh. Where do I begin with this one?! Do I have a midlife career change? DO I EVER! From analytic geographer to at home parent/homeschool mom to yarn shop owner (now single parenting and still homeschooling the teenagers) at 51...it's been a whirlwind. How did I do it? It was a bit accidental and mostly taking advantage of opportunities that seemingly popped up out of nowhere, trusting and hoping that I could. I had to. There was not a lot of thinking about whether I could do it or not. I just considered my circumstances and needs and those of my kids and jumped in. I believe it's been good for all of us although it's not without significant challenges. I am still learning about myself as I go, but what I love the most is that I feel like it's REALLY been good for my boys to see me do this - to take a really tough challenge and make it work. It's crazy hard sometimes. But overall I am enjoying it. Is this what I expected to be doing? Not at all! I'm just trusting that this is the way it's supposed to be. I will say, as an introvert I thought my biggest hurdle running the shop would be all the interaction with customers, and indeed that's hard sometimes. (My best friend's only hesitation when asked her opinion of whether or not I should do it was "I just wonder if it will be too people-y for you") As it turns out, if you have to work in public, knitters are a nice bunch overall, and I've survived. It's really tiring though!


  • Lily Boot

    Lily Boot on Feb. 16, 2019, 10:27 a.m.

    Oh Renee - this post is so full of energy and potential and confidence. It makes for such good reading and I am excited to see where you go. Almost 10 years ago we moved from my hometown of Brisbane to Melbourne for my husband’s work - almost 2000km away. I had no family there. Our son started high school. My work - which had been part time in education at a girls’ Boarding School ( I was an English tutor and boarding mistress over 20 years) was left behind. I was heartbroken and homesick. By the end of that first year we visited an aunt living in a very small country town on the far south coast. It was beautiful and we could both imagine living there on a small farm putting our years of dreams of living a more self sustaining life raising vegetables and animals as one of our heroes Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. But we had to have a way of supporting ourselves there. I wanted work that was meaningful and would contribute to my community and be satisfying and rewarding. There was a new hospital being built in the region so I decided nursing would be the perfect choice. I went back to university and studied for 4 years and received my degree - it was very hard work - a heavy academic load with months of prac - and I was parenting my teen who was working his way through enormous changes himself as well as studying at high school. I was successful in getting a great grad year at one of the state’s most prestigious quartenary hospitals to finish my training. Then it was time to move again. We bought our land. Noah graduated highschool, Julian transitioned to working from home and I started work at the newly opened regional hospital as a paediatric registered nurse. It has been an amazing 10 years. I have learnt an enormous amount about what’s important to me - being able to contribute financially to my family has been a huge boost to my self confidence, working part time means I am able to build our home at the farm and still support my son practically and emotionally, and giving back to my community is incredibly rewarding; and nursing has allowed me to discover what my strengths are - turns out that despite my introverted personality I am able to establish lovely therapeutic rapport with children and their families, and teenagers with mental health issues are my thing. And I adore the intellectual challenge that comes with constant learning and skill building. Going back to university was really daunting - four years of full time study with little income, tuition fees , constant juggling of home and study and prac - but I cannot recommend it highly enough to any mums out there who dream of starting afresh - it goes by so quickly and lead me to so much growth and blossoming of who I am. I am not finished yet by any means. Now I am preparing to undertake my masters in adolescent mental health and I am dreaming of helping establish best practice mental health inpatient services for our region. There is so much to look forward to!


  • Karen (Mom)

    Karen (Mom) on Feb. 22, 2019, 12:40 p.m.

    I'm really enjoying all the comments. Renee, as your Mom I'm proud of you and have loved reading this series. As an arm's length participant in your adult life, it's been a gift to watch, listen, pray, cheer, cry and believe in, and for you. I treasure the conversations we've shared about 'a lot of stuff' and from my vantage point of relationship (and age) I am so excited for where you're headed - with all the unknowns, which I believe in one way or another we forge our way through. In my quest to keep learning and discovering who I am, I continue to have the challenge (in my 60's!) to ask "yikes, is what I'm bringing to the world now, in this season of my life, making a difference?!” I'm choosing to think it's okay if I never stop asking - and just keep moving! Love you...keep up the great work.


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