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  • Writer's pictureRobert Norton

Dream job or detour?

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Early in my career, I was envious of my friend, Varessa. Like me, she worked in fundraising for an academic healthcare system, but her specific role was to travel the country, hosting dinners with physician alumni at academic conferences. Glitzy dinners, sparkling conversation, and traveling FOR FREE—it was a dream job. When Varessa left the organization, I put my hat in the ring with her recommendation in hand and got the job.

And I was miserable.

You see, I do like dinners, conversation, and traveling. But it turns out that I didn't much enjoy any of those things in the company of strangers I needed to ask for money. I disliked the pressure of planning the menus and managing the budget. I couldn't stand packing. I didn't have the subject matter expertise to get in on the dinner conversation. And I hated the pile of work waiting for me when I returned.

I was also sorely disappointed in my sense of adventure. I remember going to Chicago with the clear intention to take advantage of my time in the city. But when I got there, I found I had accidentally booked a hotel that was a $100 cab ride away from anywhere worth going. And just as I was getting dressed, it started to snow. Now that may not have intimidated someone with the right coat and boots, but for this southern Louisiana native, it was a deal-breaker. I climbed into bed and watched a movie. I may have cried a little.

I've experienced ten career moves and promotions in the last 21 years. Every single one taught me something about myself I didn't know. That job taught me that I primarily want to travel for pleasure, not work. And, more importantly, that I crave deep connections with people, not dinner conversation.



What do I want to do with this one life I have to live? I want to embrace the shovel, uncovering what's not mine to do and gaining clarity on what is.



 

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