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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 9, 2006

Hold fast to resolve for change

By Andrea Kay

Annette, a 37-year-old mother, says that ever since she could remember, "I wanted to become a registered nurse."

But every time she's tried to go to school, "something always got in my way and I've sacrificed what I wanted to take care of my children. But I know that if I could just get my RN, I could take care of my children much better financially."

As much as she wants this, she says, "I'm afraid that if I had to work full time and go to school, I would be spreading myself too thin as far as being there for my children and husband. What do you think?"

I think that change is hardly ever convenient and if you are waiting until the moon and stars are aligned perfectly with Jupiter and Mars, it never will happen.

If you're serious, you need to get out of this "I-want-it-but-I'm-afraid" cycle and do four things:

  • Declare to yourself and commit to paper that you want this new career and nothing is going to stop you. This lets you move into the "What's-this-going-to-take?" phase.

  • Define specifically what it will take. Will you need to ask something of someone else? Will you need to cut out certain activities, have less time at home, reduce other expenses, postpone something else or spend savings?

  • Ask yourself: Am I willing to do that?

  • If the answer is yes, figure out how to rearrange your life to support your new choice.

    This is hard. You have to work out all the details that affect your daily life and those close to you.

    You'll need supportive people around you. You'll have to sacrifice.

    Take Nina, a nurse in Utah who wrote me last year when she decided to go back to college at 52 and pursue a bachelor of science and a masters' degree in geology a subject that she said "enthralls me."

    "At first, I had all the excuses. It will cost a fortune. I'll be 58 by the time I'm done and paying off my school loans till I'm in the grave," she wrote.

    But she made the commitment, saying: "I feel like I am re-embarking on a journey I started 30 years ago. My goal is to have my own geology guide company."

    I checked in with Nina after she'd been at this for more than a year and she wrote, "I would not have my life any other way. I am living off my retirement savings from 20 years of nursing, but it is all so worth it. I work part time in the soils lab of a small engineering firm, doing their geotech tests. I make $9 per hour."

    She can't wait for next semester when she's involved in an undergraduate research project on metamorphic rocks in the mountains south of St. George, Utah.

    "I expect I will be graduating perhaps in three and half years. I live and love geology. Finally, for the first time in my 53 years of life I have something that I can let just consume me. I finally understand how people can be so happy with their direction of their life. I have made my dream my life and I am living it to the fullest."

    If you're still holding out for the perfect circumstances to make a change, what would those be?

    And when will they come about? What do you need to do to make them possible? Will those circumstances ever be possible?

    If not, what are you waiting for?

    Reach Andrea Kay at andrea@andreakay.com.