At a Crossroads…considering a new career

by Debt Destroyer on July 30, 2008

I have no clue to what the future holds, and it bugs the heck out of me.

To catch you up in case you’re just joining us, earlier this month I started posting here on THE HAPPY ROCK detailing my journey to a debt free life. Everything was going along nicely. I was opening up about my personal finances, and you, the HAPPY ROCK community, were giving great comments/ideas to help me out.

Then last week, just when I was putting the semblance of a plan together, I lost my job.

It was a shock to say the least.

I think I’m just now coming out of the daze I’ve been in (Which is too bad, because the local tennis tournament was this past weekend and I stunk up the joint. People came up and wondered what was wrong and I just shrugged and said it wasn’t my day. Part of me wanted to say that I might be a little preoccupied about how I was going to take care of my family instead of worrying about my backhand, but I figured nobody really cared).

After yet another wasted day yesterday I finally started doing something. Today I contacted two local colleges about going back to school in two totally different fields.

School #1 is a state school and I’m interested in their teaching program.

School #2 is a private school and I’m interested in their Radiological Tech program.

I ended up having to apply to both schools because the people I spoke to on the phone kept stressing that they’d be able to assist me better after I did so (I secretly think that their job is too get people to apply and they don’t really care about me or the questions I have).

I honestly am torn down the middle about which option to choose. I think I’d be good at both, so I’m trying to figure out which one I’d enjoy more. That has been my biggest hang up so far in my employment history.

I’ve never really had a job that I REALLY liked.

I’m extremely jealous of those of you who do have a career in a field that you truly enjoy. I figure this is a good time for me to take a mulligan and start over.

Admittedly it’s not the best time, I have two toddlers running around I have to worry about and a wife who just started her own business (which she loves), but it’s as good a time as any.

Of course going back to school, if I go that route, is going to shoot a big fat hole in my debt defying plan, but I’ll do my best to limit the damage.

The best thing about being a guest columnist (or whatever my title is) here at THE HAPPY ROCK is that I get to run ideas by all of you. So my question to you this time is:

Have you or anyone you knew been at a similar crossroads, and how did it turn out?

Until next time


P.S. Thank you so much for all support I received these past few days. It’s actually helped me deal with this quite a lot.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

John July 30, 2008 at 8:58 am

Go for the money don’t waste time trying to find something you enjoy. Find a career path that has high income potential and get the degree for it. You will find something you enjoy about it once you shell out tens of thousands of dollars for it.


Ed July 30, 2008 at 10:57 am

Hang in there. At my college graduation, the speaker said “Do what you love, that way you can retire at 24” I’ve always thought that was good advice, however, it is a little late to hear when you are sitting in your cap and gown.

If you like helping people, I’d choose the health care field. Teaching is a dirty business and its mostly baby sitting.


celticbuffy July 30, 2008 at 12:18 pm

If you go the teaching route, aim for being a professor. I can completely see you as one. :)

The radiological tech one is a good option also. Which program will take the least amount of time to complete? At this point in life I’m leaning toward the option that can get you in and out in the least amount of time with the higher paying salary. (Hence my desire to get into the accelerated RN program and be done in 12 months.)

I am at the same type of crossroad myself. While I think I have it planned out (nursing school starting August of 2009), part of me is not sure. I definitely need an income starting in September and am not sure what route to take… the one tried, traveled, and hated…or the one where income may be uncertain but more of what I enjoy.

I was at a similar point to this when my oldest was an infant and chose to go back to school. It did provide a stable income for us for these past ten years but I did not choose wisely as to my degree and wound up in something I did not like. If you choose school, see if you can do some job shadowing to get a better idea of what each job entails.


Tim July 30, 2008 at 3:11 pm

This is tough, man. I’m rooting for you. Just to throw in 2 things to think about:
1) I’d encourage you to consider which of the two options sets you up the best, not just to achieve your financial goals – though of course that’s important, but also to enjoy your family.
2) Any job you have will have things you like and things you don’t. I taught for a year and knew tons of teachers who complained about their job all the time. I know a number of people in the medical field who thought their profession would be about caring for people but its riddled w/ politics and administrative crap. At the same time the opposite is true in both fields as well – there are people who love their job. So whichever job you choose I think one of the keys is found, not in finding a job you love, but in choosing to make a difference at your job – to be the guy who, whether the job sucks or not, is doing his best to create a work environment that makes it a good place to be. And that’s a choice you can make either way.


"Solution Drew" July 31, 2008 at 7:14 am

It’s a tough call trying to decide between money and job satisfaction – The best of the best manage to combine the two.

Passion can lead to success but it can also mislead you down a path of blind faith. I think happiness is the goal isn’t it.

It’s a personal choice job satisfaction = happiness or high paying job = money?

job satisfaction might not be enough, but then again money might not be.


Julie July 31, 2008 at 8:53 am

I saw your guest post at Frugal Dad and came over here. I recently left a good paying job to go to grad school and become a teacher. Before, I woke up feeling sick at the thought of having to spend any time at the place where I worked. Now, I get up looking forward to my days. Even though there are better paying jobs, the feeling I get from what I do more than makes up for the salary. This doesn’t mean I think you should definitely go with teaching, but I do think you should do something you will enjoy. Teaching also frees up time to be with family and pursue other ways to make money. Is it possible for you to shadow someone who is a radiology tech to see what its really like? If you choose teaching you can probably substitute teach while in school to supplement your income and get a handle on the day to day things. Best wishes whatever you choose!


Helen July 31, 2008 at 2:32 pm

How about staying home with those sweet toddlers for a year while your wife gets her business off the ground? You could avoid daycare costs, and it might be less expensive in the end to take some time and look into your options.


John (Debt Defier) August 1, 2008 at 12:59 am

Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment.

@John – “You will find something you enjoy about it once you shell out tens of thousands of dollars for it.” This is a scary thought.

@Ed – At my college graduation I remember the speaker telling us that almost everything we learned would be out of date in 3 years. INSPIRING STUFF!

@celticbuffy – Funny thing about the above mentioned ceremony is that I was sitting next to cb. And now 10 years later, we once again are in the same place.

@Tim & @ Julie – Your comments really hit me. Thank you so much!

@ Solution Drew – “Passion can lead to success but it can also mislead you down a path of blind faith” How true!

@ Helen – This option is on the table as well. But I know I’ll catch a lot of grief if I go this route.

Thanks again for all the comments!


celticbuffy August 1, 2008 at 1:11 am

Were we doomed by that college graduation ceremony? Ten years later and we’re both looking at changing careers and possibly going back to school. :)


J Dawg August 1, 2008 at 2:23 pm

You need to not do either. You are thinking about money and not happiness. You also said that going to school is going to put a damper on debt. WHY? You can pay cash for school. I am. I am working 2 jobs and going to school. I think you need to sit and really consider what it is you want to do. The best advice I can give you is to go to your library and look for the book 48 days to the job you love or No more mondays. Consider what you have experience with and how you can link to your passion. Then take steps to walk towards that goal. You may have to get another job you dont like for a short period of time while you are getting to the next step.
Stop ! Think! Consider!


Nim August 1, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Honestly, I’d flip a coin. Sounds crazy, but you’ll find out which one you really want when you see the outcome of the coin.

I’m generalizing a LOT here, and possibly casting teaching in a negative life, as the wife of a teacher: the world needs em, but no one wishes to reward teachers for being good teachers. It’s a job you _have_ to love in order to put up with it.


Nim August 1, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Honestly, I’d flip a coin. Sounds crazy, but you’ll find out which one you really want when you see the outcome of the coin.

I’m generalizing a LOT here, and possibly casting teaching in a negative light, as the wife of a teacher: the world needs em, but no one wishes to reward teachers for being good teachers. It’s a job you _have_ to love in order to put up with it.


Gloria August 1, 2008 at 4:33 pm

MOney rule our world. But they have nothing common with enjoyable work


Sue August 4, 2008 at 12:35 am

Going back to school is never a wrong decision but is this something that you really want or is it just a knee jerk reaction? Are you ready to hit the books?
Picture your life in both scenerios.

You might be better off getting a job then have the employer help you finance the education.
I have always been told that if you work at the college you can get a tuition break.
Can you actually afford to pay for school right now?
It might be better to wait until you have an education fund funded.

Regarding Helen’s comment and your response. If you have the option to stay home for a time you won’t regret it. You will look back on it with fond memories. The downsides of staying home will drift away and it is an opportunity that many men do not have.


John (Debt Defier) August 7, 2008 at 11:27 pm

@J-Dawg – My library did have 48 days and I’m half way done. Thanks for the heads up.

@Nim – Ha! I flipped the coin twice, and am leaning the other way :)

@Gloria – I think Metallica said it best, but your comment is sad but true!

@Sue – It does feel like I’m rushing the school thing, but I feel like I need a fresh start and fall semester will be starting shortly so I had to move fast.


The Happy Rock August 13, 2008 at 12:15 am


I would have to agree with Sue, big time. From your writing you don’t sound super excited about either option. You own language was “I think I would be good at both”, and neither was an obvious choice. Choosing the the best of two second or third place choices isn’t the same as finding a long term career that is fulfilling, aligns with your skills and passion, right for the family and rewarding to you and those involved. This doesn’t even mention the fact that you are in no place to even come close to affording school. Without actually choosing not to take on any more debt, you won’t ever get out of debt. A degree is great, but the burden of the debt is big. A degree is much better when its paid for by an employer or in cash.

My personal suggestion would be to find a job to cover the bills and really do some soul searching, reading, and such to find a long term solution to really aligns with the core of who you are. Working another job that isn’t a perfect option is so much easier when you have laid out a plan to get you where you want to be. The job is a short term means much much bigger dreams, money, and fulfillment.

Just imagine this. Getting a job similar to what you have or even part time to really cut the day care costs, slashing the budgeting, helping your wife’s business take off and being debt free except for the mortgage in a year. Imagine the freedom you would have to pursue a career that you always wanted regardless of money. Start to feel were you are going, it will help guide your decisions.


Breakaway August 21, 2008 at 10:48 pm

Whichever you think you will like the best, is the way you should go. List all of the pros and cons of each…. including the pros and cons of each school….. weigh them out, speak with your family and friends about it, and go full force at the best option for you!


Self Improvement Tips - Laura September 16, 2008 at 5:32 am

In my opinion it is easy to say that we must think practical in terms of career path and high paying job is better. But i think it would be much easier for you to do your job if you are enjoying doing it. You will find growth to career if you love it and enjoying it.


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