...it doesn't have to be a straight line or in any particular order.
In my post last week I mentioned that I was in my fourth career, and that my latest career change led me to doing what I love. Well the road to get to this point was not the straightest path.
As a young kid, I had many different aspirations for what I wanted to be when I grew up, just like any kid. I can thank my mom for always allowing me to be whoever I wanted to be. I had a costume for any career I had on my mind, from policeman, to army man, to football player, to horse jockey. My choices were only limited to my imagination. For instance, I was once a cowboy-army man.
In high school, the choices of a career became a reality when we were asked to choose a pathway for our classes. The choices were, "College Prep" or "Career Prep", and the path we took was supposed to lead us to either college or career after high school. Well, I knew I didn't have the grades to get into college so I chose to take the "Career Prep" pathway. At that point in my life, I had a strong desire to be an architect so I took computer assisted drafting. By senior year, I had a job with an architect and was well on my way to my first career. I enjoyed what I did and for an 18 year old, I was making a pretty good living. However, after two years of drafting, I found myself bored of sitting behind a desk and felt I needed something more in my life.
At the time, my best friend had joined the Air Force and seemed to really enjoy it, so I looked into different jobs in the military. I had heard of all these scary stories about how recruiters would tell you anything to sign up, so I made sure I did all of my research before going to talk to one. The job that really piqued my interested was being a field medic in the Navy, known as a Hospital Corpsman. In September of 2004, I went to the recruiter and in February 2005, I was off to basic training and the start of my second career. I really loved being in the Navy. The U.S. was at the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom so there was a lot motivation to deploy overseas in the military, which was where my passion lied. While most of my friends went to serve in Iraq, I ended up getting stationed at the Naval hospital in Bethesda, MD. That's right, 49 miles from home. I joined the Navy to possibly see the world and help my brothers overseas, just to get stationed back at home. Some would say I was lucky, but at the time I was angry with the Navy. I was the most motivated person I knew and wanted nothing more than to be in combat with my friends. My frustration grew as my attempts to deploy were struck down over and over.
As I neared the end of my initial contract in the Navy, I met the mother of my two beautiful children. Meeting her made me realize that to have a "normal" life, I would need to settle down and find a job that actually kept me home. Off to search for another career!
Through the connection of my best friend's dad, I landed a job as a project manager. Without experience, or a college degree, I was making twice as much as I was making in the military. The money was amazing and enabled me to provide for my growing family. My third career was progressing in the right direction and I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of life. Phew, finally!
Not so fast...
The money in project management was great but sitting behind a desk again was not exciting. There was a fire that burned inside me and it took me a few years to figure out what it was. My years of sitting behind a desk gave me the time to learn more about my passion for fitness. I had always been physically active but I never thought of turning it into a career. To be honest, I didn't even know someone could have an actual career in fitness.
I spent 8 years as a project manager. During those 8 years, I participated in a popular cross training program, competed in powerlifting and in weightlifting. Participating in those sports led me to helping others compete and that is where I found my true passion. Helping people compete led me to helping people perform exercises correctly, which eventually led me to helping people with their health and fitness. Up to that point, I hadn't received any formal education other than taking a personal training certification. I wanted to be taken seriously, so I decided to go back to school to get my degree in kinesiology. At the age of 32, I was attending the University of Maryland where a number of friends from high school had attended 15 years earlier. In two and a half years, I completed my degree and doing what I am most passionate about - helping others better themselves.
I have been a personal trainer for over 5 years now and a certified strength and conditioning specialist for over a year, and I have loved every second of it. I have finally found that fire I was looking for. The passion to help people, burns brighter than any other career I have imagined or experienced. Whether you're young or old, its never too late to do what you love.