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The Need to Figure Out a Way to Be Different

Although we tend to think about education as being provided by institutions of higher learning (formal learning), we also might consider more informal sources of education, such as by shadowing (with their permission) individuals who have already mastered the skills that we are seeking to acquire. For example, perhaps we would like to learn to play the keyboard, piano and/or organ which could be facilitated by approaching a local band member, a church organist, etc. for lessons or for a referral to someone who does provide music lessons. There are times when seeking out someone with professional experience is more valuable than taking classes at a college or university; however, it is wise to avoid thinking in dichotomous (either/or) terms but realizing a combination of both (formal and informal) can provide a more holistic approach to achieving the desired result(s).

The value of life experience should not be discounted, as it contributes to making us who we are as well as serving as the impetus for us making the life choices that direct our professional and career decisions. As we move across our lifespan, it is wise to note that it is never too late to reinvent ourselves, initiate a new brand, and/or pursue the career of our dreams as long as we exercise good judgment, think creatively, and maintain a significant level of passion and enthusiasm to continue pursuing our interests and goals.  

Venturing into a previously untapped market can not only be challenging but it can also make us vulnerable to criticism from ourselves and others in addition to unknown challenges and unanticipated outcomes (positive and negative). While some individuals believe in putting aside time to reflect and research any life-changing decisions they are preparing to make, there are those of us who tend to jump into projects with both feet and without considering the short-term and long-term consequences of our actions. There are pros and cons to either strategy but remembering that each of us has our limitations (although many of us are reluctant to admit it), and that we should remain cognizant of which facets of the pursuit we have control over and which facets we do not.

Dr. Mary Ann Markey