Life has its trade-offs and compromises. When I left my full time job to follow my passion to work with animals, I gave up the security of a regular paycheck and 25 years of experience behind me which just about ensured that I could find work if needed.  But I wasn’t thinking of that at the time; I was focused on my newfound freedom of being able to take an exciting new path. It’s now been just about seven years since I walked from that seemingly clear, obstacle-free road into what at times have been the scary, dark woods. I may be liberated of the confines of a full time job, but am I truly free?

There have been so many days when I long for the certainty of an income that will cover my bills, to wake up each morning and know exactly where I’m supposed to be and what I have to do.  Instead, I have a variable income that often does not pay the bills and every day is a different schedule (even weekends) with an overwhelming number of project/task choices. Some people may say, “Terrific! I would love a life like that!” Truly, some personalities would be okay with that uncertainty. And many days I am too. But there are so many other days filled with fear and insecurity. I desperately look to find the way back to the highway. I get tired of struggling with hacking my way through to clear a new path.

The philosophers tout, “follow your bliss,” “do what you love, the money will follow” and I believe it. But they neglected to explain that it may take a very, very long time, and getting there takes a great deal of faith and tenacity. Changing careers at mid-life is not for everyone.

Who’s to say that if I had stayed with the old corporate job that it would have been any easier? As we know, no job is secure anymore. It is an illusion, as I frequently have to tell my 90-year-old mother who constantly tells me to go back into telecommunications to have a “secure” job. I then remind her of the days when she worked for AT&T and she had to endure the stress of impending layoffs. That shuts her up…temporarily.

Where I sit now, I have full control over steering my ship. That’s freedom. And the compromise I have made is dealing with fear and the insecurity of where I’m headed. In reality, aren’t we all in that same boat no matter what our career choices? That realization makes me feel better.