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Work after Working: What Do I Want To Be When I G...

Work after Working: What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?

Lee Aldrich MiddlesageSo many women I talk to are fed up with what they do. Many of us are looking for a change, but can’t quite figuring out what we want to be when we grow up. Jim Rohn says “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Maybe that’s why so many of us are stepping back, re-evaluating our lives, and trying to reclaim the right to work on ourselves.

We’ve “leaned in” (enough already!); fallen down; picked ourselves up; patched our own skinned knees and elbows; bumped our heads on that good ‘ole glass ceiling; pushed through; pushed forward; handled work loads, bosses, employees, clients, husbands/partners, children, households, social commitments, religious functions, friends, moving, births, deaths; burned out and essentially ran ourselves ragged trying to do it all. And you know what….we can’t. We can’t do it all well and we’ve put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves thinking we could. Sorry, unless you have help, something suffers, someone suffers, we suffer. Our confidence dies a bit as we tell ourselves we should have been better. We wouldn’t talk to our friends that way, why do we tell ourselves that?

I’ve been working in my industry – advertising – for what feels like forever. My usual quip is that I’ve been doing it since Ponderosa was in prime time. (Some will get that, some won’t.) OK, so it hasn’t been quite  that long, but it’s losing its thrill for me. My dad, who was in the ad biz, used to say, “Advertising was a great business to be in. Then the Harvard MBA’s took over and ruined it…” Gotta say there’s truth to that, although, that statement can be applied to lots of industries today. Unfortunately, some of that cast off affects those of us in business for ourselves.

I have a friend who has been a professional photographer for 15 years. Prior to that, she worked as an IT specialist in a field dominated by men. She busted her butt, did well, and decided to put herself through photography school. 15 years later, she still loves what she does, but the industry has imploded due to digital cameras which have fostered a delusion that with those cameras, anybody can be a photographer. She’s ready to quit the profession and go work at Trader Joe’s.file000498837754-1

Another friend is a marketing/researcher, who has been in business for herself for 10 years or so, this after working in-house in the same industry. She’s fed up with clients that are unreasonable, that she has no back up so she’s always “on” (my gripe, too), while trying to raise, run to school, make it to sports practices and events, on time to music lessons, a daughter in elementary school – all with a husband, who until recently, worked out of town and was gone all week long. She’s just about had enough of the business side of life. She’s worn out.

A third friend started at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder after divorcing her husband and essentially raising two kids by herself. She moved up rung by rung, moving into the non-profit industry. As Vice President of a non-profit, when she decided she’d had enough, she wrote the next years budget without her position in it, and walked away. After a short stint in retail a few years later, she decided to quit “working” in the traditional sense to do the things she loves.

Me, well, I’ve about had it with my industry. Not only do the MBA’s make it tough to do business, but so do the conglomerates, the maniacal male-patterned management styles that manage with fear and intimidation – which I see affect some of my clients – and runs rampant within my vendors industry so that most give and take, camaraderie, and joie de vivre is all but squelched. My dad was right. The fun is gone.

I’m very close to letting go to do what I enjoy, what fulfills me, and study what intrigues me when the mood strikes me. The next round of my life, the work after working, will be – is – something I enjoy that gives wings to my creative side I had buried for far too long. I’ve chosen to work harder on myself than my job. 

I gotta call bullshit on the whole “lean in” thing. We leaned in and fell over from sheer exhaustion and unrealistic expectations we placed on ourselves due to the nudging of outside people, ideas large__3331022820-1and forces. There’s a whole lot of women our age, who have done for everybody else, and have decided they are now going to do for themselves. The work after working will be something they embrace. Something they love. Because they can. Because they want to. And mostly, because it’s about damn time.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be me. And it’s about damn time.





photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/brutapesquisa/3331022820/”>brutapesquisa</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>




  1. Ellen Dolgen

    16 April

    Great piece, particularly with all the focus on “leaning in” and working moms! What’s so great about so many women online is that they’ve done just what you’re talking about – and doing what they love and something in which they can make genuine connections!

    • Lee Aldrich

      16 April

      Ellen – thank you for the feed back and taking the time to share the thoughts that tumble around in my head. Genuine is the operative word!

  2. Julie Danis

    16 April

    I’m willing, able, and ready to stand up for how I show up at work. Great blog post. Here’s my take on the leaning in movement: women of all ages need to lean on each other to get anywhere.

    • Lee Aldrich

      16 April

      Julie – glad you liked the read. Women are always about the work, whether in an office, on the home front, or both. We need each other.

  3. Diane

    16 April

    Amen sister!

    • Lee Aldrich

      16 April

      We’re all thinking the same things…..!

  4. Pam Houghton

    16 April

    I enjoyed that. Thanks. I can particularly relate to the male-patterned management style.

    • Lee Aldrich

      16 April

      Pam – glad you enjoyed the post, and heaven help us all with that management style!

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