January 26, 2016

Reinventing Christine

For 10 years, I had a title. Engineer, Process Improvement Specialist, Consultant, Organizational Strategist, Team Lead, Career Manager, etc. On December 31st those titles were gone. I was simply Christine. Also unemployed. The transition out of my corporate job has been strange; some days it feels right and good and easy and some days it feels clunky and awkward and uncomfortable.


I always shunned a career-oriented label, never realizing that I had subconsciously assumed mine wholeheartedly. When the moments came this fall where I had to describe myself, like at company Christmas parties or other events with strangers, I struggled. At one event, someone asked me point blank, "so do you work?" I stuttered over my words and did a little tap dance about taking a leave of absence and doing some volunteer work. It left me rattled even if I didn't really care about the inquirer's opinion of me. These instances served as a not-so-subtle reminder to me that a job and the corresponding title can sometimes define us, even if it's not intentional.
Only my last real day at work...getting into my car to go to
happy hour after dropping off my laptop, badges, and
other company stuff. Giddy!
I've spent 3.5 months soul searching...thinking about what I want out of life, thinking about areas where I excel, and thinking about what is best for our family. I also just lived for a while. I volunteered, I did some projects around our house, I made sure our errands were run during the work week, etc. It's been a pretty incredible growth period for me too. I've been faced with the (sometimes painful) realization that Christine is no longer a consultant; but the greater realization is that simply being me is far more important.

After spending several weeks of job searching, meeting with head hunters, talking to recruiters, and the like, I decided I didn't want to do "it" anymore, with "it" being the corporate game. Even as I looked at nonprofit jobs or smaller companies, I couldn't get excited. I spent hours poring over certifications and brain-dumped my thoughts on pages and pages of yellow legal paper. Eventually I arrived at the somewhat obvious-a career in fitness. It suits my interest, no passion, in fitness and capitalizes on my aptitude for mentorship and coaching. With that, I recently signed up to take the NASM personal training certification. My materials arrived late last week and I am elbow-deep in anatomy and kinesiology. I am loving it and this new chapter. It feels exciting and new and authentic.
Feeling very excited when this giant box arrived on my doorstep
I can't say for certain where the personal training certification will lead me and I'm mostly ok with that. My goal for this season of my life is to live authentically, specifically when it comes to my career. Until I pass the exam, you can find me studying and daydreaming about my new career.

I would love your thoughts, input, and reactions to the idea of careers as primary labels for ourselves. And calling all personal trainers, I would love to pick your brain about careers and whatnot. Could I email you?

Read more about my journey to reinvention:
* Where in the world is Christine the blogger?
* Funemployment in a nutshell

{Christine}

42 comments:

  1. Good on you, Christine! This is an exciting step and I can't wait to see where it leads you. When I was younger I quit my career when my husband moved for the army, and it did leave me with a weird "who am I" time period. An officers wife? That's it?! Of course it wasn't "it" but I know the feeling- and it lead me back to school. It was a great time in my life, looking back. Enjoy redefining/exploring and being YOU!

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    1. Thank you, Patty. I often wonder about being a military spouse. Adam is still a reservist but is retired from AD. I have several close friends who are doing that dance and have all struggled with their careers mostly based on the frequency of the moves and location. Thanks for your kind words <3

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  2. Often I feel defined by my work label as well. Finding balance is very challenging as a wife, mom, runner & full time HR manager. I'm very interested & excited to follow your journey.

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    1. Thanks Robyn! Balance is a really tricky thing in life. I'm working on it myself and it seems like it's a constant battle.

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  3. excited to follow you on your new journey. You know I found myself in a similar situation though gutted it out until all the plans I made fell into place. It's exciting and nerve racking but the only thing we can do is try to be the best version of ourselves, no matter the outcome. Wishing you so much luck!

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    1. Thanks Mar! When I start to doubt myself, I often think of you and other friends who have made bold career changes. You inspire me!

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  4. Hey Christine, I'm normally a lurker but this post feels really timely to me and I wanted to comment. I've been reading the blog for a few years (I actually met Pam at the 2014 Princess Half Marathon expo) and I love the revamped blog format! In terms of my career label, I've been working in marketing & communications for about seven years. While I love my current job, the corporate world has become less and less appealing to me and I've dreamed about becoming a yoga teacher for a long time. Well, I finally took the plunge and signed up for a seven-month yoga teacher training program at a local studio. I just completed the first weekend of training and it was amazing! I'm so excited to see where this journey will take me. Best of luck to you in your new journey - I'll be following along!

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    1. Hi Kristin, Thanks so much for sharing! It's funny...the more I have shared about this time in my life (which isn't really related to running), I've learned so many other people have gone through similar experiences. It's really been cathartic for me to share and I value the conversation that it's started with so many other readers. Best of luck to you with your yoga training! If you don't already, check out liverungrow.com - that's my friend Danielle's blog. She's also a yoga teacher.

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  5. How exciting :) I think it awesome - just taking the steps to change something that big is hard.
    I've never really had a career, just a job, so I was always kind of floundering not having much identity, that is something I love about running. It is hard to describe how important is it to me and it kills me being out injured like this...anyway, best wishes, you got that test :) Cheers to a new journey.

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    1. Thanks, Karen! Ugh being injured is never fun and I can definitely empathize. Take care of yourself and hopefully we're both back on the roads in no time! :)

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  6. Congratulations on making a change! I worked in corporate HR for years. I kind of just fell into it. My first HR gig was just a promotion from a call center operator to an HR clerk. I liked helping the employees, but the problem with HR is that as you progress through the ranks, you're less on the employee's side and more a voice for management which is not me at all. It got to the point where when people asked what I did and I told them, they'd just say "Oh." I had no work friends anymore because I was the HR person. I hated it for years and when it got to the point where my office was being closed and it was either relocate or leave, I opted to go back to school for my teaching credential. I'm still financially hurting because I'm single and the timing was just as the recession hit and I subbed for several years instead of having a full paying contract, but I love work each and every day. Sorry for the long story. I'm trying to get at telling you I completely understand following your heart. Good luck!

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    1. That's amazing Jennifer! So happy that you found something you enjoy every day! I was so timid to share my story of hating my job, needing to get out, and finding something new to do but I have been overwhelmed by the amount of people who have shared similar stories.

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  7. Congrats, Christine, this is so wonderful! My brother is a personal trainer and is finishing up a master's degree in exercise physiology/strength & conditioning at University of South Florida -- I'd be happy to put you in touch with him if you like! He and a few of his colleagues also have a website/blog that that is strength/conditioning training specific, but you might find some of it interesting/useful: thestrengthcave.com. I'm so excited for you!!

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    1. Thanks, Becca! Their website is amazing! And it looks like an incredibly educated bunch! And I may take you up on that offer :) Thank you!!

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  8. This is very exciting. I've worked at the same place for 10 (!) years and I've gone through all of the job titles available in design and I've kind of reached the peak. I definitely understand where you're coming from. Some years I've learned so much and loved my career and then other years I've worked too many hours and let it take over my life. I'm kind of in the middle now and looking for the next big thing. I admire that you took time away and didn't rush the decision. It's funny to be in my 30s and thinking, "ok, now what do I really want to be when I grow up?" I'm excited to see where this new chapter leads you!

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    1. It is remarkable that the 30-year decade seems to be the time that a lot of people seemingly wake up and wonder about their careers. I guess by that age, most people have been in the workforce 10-ish years and may have found some successes but may not find fulfillment. Thanks for your kind words :)

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  9. Thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling with my career for a little while. I love my field/ profession, but not sure that this is how I want to use my degree. I too have been looking at various options and will continue to do so until I find the right fit. I do hate that we are labeled by our careers. I think it adds extra pressure to love what you do, especially when you dedicated 8 years to your education. My job is my job and while someday I may love it, it is not who I am. I am so much more.

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    1. Yes so very true on labels. I think it can be fun to look around too...sometimes you just don't know what's out there until you look.

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  10. You are incredibly brave and I envy you for it. For my entire career I have struggled as I do not enjoy what I do but do not have the courage to make a change. As my husband and I near starting a family, I consider giving up my career. I also find myself comparing myself to others which is never a helpful venture. I hope this new direction brings you the fulfillment you are seeking and I can't wait to follow your journey.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Emilie! I hear you on the comparison trap...I can be pretty bad about that. I think for a long time, my own concerns about what people would think of me if I just quit my job were bigger than what they actually were. And one day, I got to a breaking point where I had to focus on me. Wishing you peace and some comfort as you figure out what's best for your family <3

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  11. I'm so happy that you've taken this time to find a new direction and passion to put your energy into. Its always difficult when you're working a job that you don't find personal fulfillment in and feel like you're just waking up and going through the motions because you know that you're supposed to, not because you want to. I wish you nothing but the best as you navigate this new path for yourself.

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    1. Thank you so much Kathryn! I'm really excited about what lies ahead, which is a good change.

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  12. I think it is awesome you are doing this.
    I always say, I would much rather do a job I love, than get paid all the $$ in the world. I left a "corporate" job 4 years ago to do what I wanted to do, and I may miss the money sometimes, but I don't feel like I work now, I feel like I get to enjoy so its definitely been worth it. I never dread my job anymore.
    Best of luck to you and your exams!!!

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    1. Thanks Kristy. You've been so supportive and I've really appreciated hearing other "career changer's" stories...it makes me feel a little more normal.

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  13. I recently just launched a business -- with a partner -- and it has been wonderful. It was so so scary. But it has been so so rewarding and I have never been happier. I'm finally in control of my own destiny (as corny as that sounds). I'm so excited that you're doing the same. I want everyone to strike out on their own and follow their hearts. And hustle. :)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I love hearing when others are in charge of their own careers. It's so empowering and feels more and more common these days. And girl, I am working on my hustle game! It's getting stronger :)

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  14. Good for you! I'm at a crossroads too...burned out on my career, but at this point in my life, we need my income. I need to come to some sort of resolution with it in my mind. For now, I play the lottery... :P

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    1. Haha I always play the big lotteries. My husband just laughs and asks "do you really think you're going to win?" Most of the time the answer is no, but the dreams are fun. I'm really lucky that we're in a position where this was possible. Had we bought a new home or a new car, this wouldn't have been an option so I definitely am appreciative.

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  15. I am so excited for you! This is such an amazing time in your life, and you have Adam to share your ups and downs as you study to do what makes you happy. I am so impressed by your approach to this whole process, and love that you're back to feeling like yourself because you're doing what's right for you!

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    1. Thanks my friend! I am slowly starting to feel more like me again which is incredible in itself!

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  16. Totally me two years ago, and I am really excited for you. But here is what I have to say: stick to your path and listen to your gut. I took a detour because I thought it was what I needed and wanted, and it was a lot of empty promises. But this is so my story from two years ago (and there is even a blog post about it, lol)

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    1. Ooh I'm going to have to find that blog post! I would love to read that. Forging your own path is so emotional - scary, exciting, liberating, etc.

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  17. so exciting!! I definitely think it is great that you listened to yourself and decided corporate life is not for you (it definitely has never been in the cards for me!). Keep listening to your gut and you will for sure find your career passion :)

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    1. Thanks Juliana! I'm pretty excited about this next chapter.

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  18. What an exciting new chapter in your life Christine! I'd LOVE for you to be my personal trainer! You're going to do awesome!!!

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    1. Aw thank you Mindy! That is such a sweet compliment!

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  19. What an exciting new chapter in your life Christine! I'd LOVE for you to be my personal trainer! You're going to do awesome!!!

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  20. Doing something you love is incredibly important. I've been at the same company for 13 years. I basically sell pharmaceuticals and equipment to equine veterinarians.

    While I don't make a ton of money, I don't hate going to work which is not something most people can say. I get to talk to vets about interesting cases in a field I'm obviously passionate about. The kid in me gets to talk about horses all day. What could be better?

    Follow your heart and do what you love and you'll be a happier person. Best wishes!

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    1. Wow that job sounds perfect for you, Jaime.

      I definitely agree that sometimes following your heart and doing what "feels right" can be totally worth it.

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  21. This is such great news Christine. I hope this new path brings you fulfillment and happiness in your career life. It's no fun doing something that stresses you out day in and day out. If you ever need advice, you know Lacey had already gone through those personal trainer classes and would love to talk "fitness" with you! Best of luck! -m

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    1. Thanks Meranda! Yes, I did remember that about Lacey...I definitely want to hear about some of her experiences since this is all new to me. :)

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