When it comes to career, there’s a lot of pressure in our culture to achieve our goals…to “make it”… to “get there” – yet each time we “get there”, there’s always a new “there” to get to. We reach a goal, and that brings us to ‘What’s next?’ – and then we’re off again – working toward the next new goal on the horizon. Here’s the thing…there is no final destination, so it really is the journey that matters most.
I came to fully appreciate the importance of the journey eighteen years ago when my career path took an unexpected turn. Since childhood, it had been my dream to become an opera singer, and with grit and determination, I achieved that goal – to sing professionally.
Throughout my singing career I was continually asking myself the “What’s next?” question – whether it concerned the next coach, next audition, or next performance contract. Ten years in, however, my gut response to the ‘What’s next?’ question was alarming to say the least. “It’s time to go, Caroline,” my gut advised. Excuse me…come again? “It’s time to leave Opera,” came that small inner voice.
I’d invested my entire life into this career, but now I had to face the scary truth that I wanted to leave Opera and had no Plan B. For the first time in my life I had no answer to the “What’s next” question.
It was incredibly difficult putting one foot in front of the other when I didn’t know where I was headed. As painful as it was, however, I learned more about myself during that period than at any other time in my life. I was incredibly appreciative to the many people who supported me on my career exploration – so appreciative that I wanted to support others on their career journeys. I’ve been in Professional Development for eighteen years now and I love my work…and I wouldn’t be where I am today without having gone through the pain of leaving the opera world.
All of this is to say, if you find yourself in a similar spot where life has taken a turn you never expected and you feel like you’re walking blindly on the journey – I encourage you to have faith! The “walking blindly” times help us strip away previous assumptions and programming to walk a new path – which makes getting wherever the next “there” is all the more worth it.