Should You Make a Career Transition?
Often, pursuing a minimalist lifestyle can impact our work experiences. Does our work empower us to live the lives we want to live? Does it add value to our lives? Are we doing the work that truly matters? Is our work a stepping stone to other passions? These are the questions the BM team members tackle below as we discuss our career transitions.
At the beginning of this year, I had a promising career where I was fortunate enough to take my daughter with me to work for the first six months of her life. The infant-at-work policy at my job expired at six months and so I began my search for a daycare in my area. I worked for a progressive non-profit that stated one of its main missions was to empower women. When I could not find an affordable day care option I instead advocated for my job to consider allowing my daughter to stay with me on a month-to-month basis. I shared research from other companies who had done the same and had ALL my coworkers’ full support.
We reached out to the board for them to consider changing the policy. They turned it down and I was faced with the decision of putting my daughter in daycare that cost more than half of my salary each month. I foresaw our days stretched thin between getting her to and from daycare while trying to work and then coming home only to begin the cycle all over again.
My partner and I weighed our options and I decided to stay at home with my daughter and pursue non-traditional career options. As someone who has held a steady job since I was 16, this was a huge shift for me. I recognize my privilege in that I get to stay at home with my little one which isn’t always an option in the USA, especially for women of color.
It isn’t always easy. I’ve had to adjust to not having my own regular, personal income source, but it’s completely worth it. I get to be with my little one and oversee her growth and development personally which is so important to me. I’m proud I advocated for the job to compromise with me, but I am not just a cog in a wheel. My family comes first and if a company chooses not to cooperate with me, I can find other ways to take care of my family.
I left my last full-time job at the beginning of 2013. Making the decision to not work full-time for another company ever again (except my own) was an important part of my minimalist lifestyle transition.
My careers have been in education and customer service which have complemented and overlapped with each other throughout the many positions I’ve held. When I left my last full-time job as an Academic Advisor, I was making the most money I had ever made in my working life, but it wasn’t as difficult to walk away from the money as I thought it would be because I knew I had to value myself (and my time) over money. (SN: Even though I was making good money, I wasn’t managing it right and that was another big lesson of my minimalist transition.)
Over the past four years, I’ve worked a few part-time jobs and even spent a full 9-months not working for anyone, but myself. The time spent not working for others was a truly a learning experience. I was definitely broke most of the time, but I also had the time to focus on things I was passionate about, such as exploring my creativity by launching a jewelry business, coaching others through living a life that represents their values, going deeper into my minimalist life, and connecting with other black minimalists. In that time, I truly understood how valuable my freedom was and learned to budget like hell.
Working part-time has helped me maintain a steady income while also giving me more time to explore my passions. I recently resigned from the part-time work I’ve done for the past two years as a Site Coordinator for an afterschool program to move to Mexico. One of the first questions people ask when I tell them I’m moving to Mexico is, “Do you have a job there?” or “What will you do for work?”. I simply tell them I’m going there to live. I have made financial decisions to ensure I don’t have to work to live. It’s possible I will find work or work will find me and I will pursue it if it feels right with my life, but above all, I intend to make my life my work.
I am an Early Childhood Special Educator. Currently, I work in a kindergarten classroom. I also have 8 years of experience working in child care. Though there are many days when teaching young children can be tough, I truly love what I do. I always had the passion for working with children or for children in some capacity.
Originally, I wanted to become a pediatrician so I started out pursuing a degree in pre-med. However, my disdain for science and growing love for the humanities lead me to a degree in Sociology with a focus on childhood and family development. Years later, I obtained an M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education.
The only other thing outside of education that intrigues me is how the mind works. One day I hope to pursue a doctorate in either child psychology or neuropsychology (specifically, pediatric neuropsychology).
Despite my love for education, I must admit the path to my career wasn't always easy. I had many moments of difficulty along the way which caused me to reconsider my career choice. In the end, it is one I do not regret. With it's many challenges, teaching also comes with many rewards.
I’ve been in a never-ending stream of transitions this past decade. I graduated high school with every intention of becoming an educator. I entered college with a major in education, but halfway through the program I was diagnosed with a chronic pain disorder which completely changed my career trajectory.
Due to this diagnosis, I felt forced to change my major, quit working, and temporarily withdraw from school. When I was able to re-enroll in school, I decided on a degree in family service. I wanted to be able to serve children and their families.
When I graduated college, I started out pursuing a career in education working at a preschool for two years; however, I felt a call or urge to study theology. I felt I could serve my community more broadly if I could study and better understand how to care for the soul. I went from pursuing ordination to becoming a pastor in the United Methodist Church bound to assisting people returning to society from prison.
Currently, I am doing a year of service in a development office to understand how a healthy organization raises funds to support its endeavors. By the end of my year of service, I plan to embark on creating my own business and setting my own schedule each day.
In the midst of these transitions, I learned these three things:
Listen to your gut. I have stumbled into some of the most soul-gratifying work by trusting my gut. It allowed me to connect with people and experiences that have now shaped me. Even when my heart and mind fails me, my gut always tells me how to move.
Do the work. There is no cutting corners to find bliss in your work. I’ve learned to master tasks I can not stand. I work really hard because I know it will pay off. I’ve learned discipline and perseverance in the transitions because I did the work before me. Sometimes the work is emotional, spiritual, or physical. It doesn’t matter what it is, you must do the work.
- Don’t hold on too tight. We all have dreams or goals for our future and it’s important to honor their essence, but do not let your goals prevent you from having other experiences. I knew I wanted to become an educator. My primary goal was to assist children and families. My degree change led me to the classroom. I know letting go of my expectation allowed me to enjoy the ride.