How I Finally Got the Nerve to Change Careers!

Marlena Musselman Fox is a good friend and past client of Pace Success Coaching.  She is excited to be sharing her story as a guest blogger for this community! 

I’d like to introduce you to someone affectionately dubbed Summer Marlena by my husband Andrew. She’s carefree and well-rested, she actually enjoys cooking, she can unwind with a good Netflix binge, and most of all, she’s present. School Year Marlena is her counterpart; the only version of me that Andrew has really known is usually stressed and unhappy. He appreciates his time with Summer Marlena, because he never met the School Year Marlena who loved everything about being a teacher.

Now you may not have a “summer” and “school year” persona, but have you ever felt like you’re one person on the job, engulfed with work and to-do lists, and then you’re another person when you’re at home, doing the things you love?

If you don’t love your job, getting through the day-to-day can be difficult. I get it — I’ve been there! I’d like to share a little bit of my story with you as encouragement, because if I’ve been able to turn things around, I believe you can too.

A career in teaching had always been my game plan. I’m a huge nerd; I loved school and I love learning! Nearing the end of my senior year, I was extremely nervous to finalize my decision to go to the University of Pittsburgh, where I planned to pursue a teaching degree. It was five hours from home and way outside of my comfort zone. I can’t really pinpoint why I made that decision, except that it just felt right when I visited the campus. I wanted to explore life in the city and experience independence for the first time.  It was scary, but I had this fire of excitement inside. Like many of you who may have also moved away for college, I knew an amazing adventure was ahead of me and that it was worth it to push through the fear.  Looking back on it now, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I learned so much about myself and the world, both inside and out of the classroom, and I have hundreds of cherished memories.

Once I graduated with my Master’s degree, I expected to spend a few years “putting in my time” to lock down a teaching contract; yet somehow the stars aligned for me in the summer of 2009, and I landed my dream job working for the school district that I was born and raised in. I figured I was pretty much set for the next thirty-five years, when I could retire with a sweet pension and a world to travel. I followed my heart back to my first home, and I was so happy.  I loved it! It was hard and challenging, but fulfilling and fun!

After just shy of a decade in the classroom, I lost my passion and energy for teaching.  I can’t identify one thing specifically; it was more like a lot of little things over the span of my career that built up, leading to increased anxiety and daily frustration. Teaching isn’t a job that you can turn off. It comes home with you emotionally and physically too, with papers to grade and lessons to plan, and I found myself perpetually overwhelmed.

In 2015, I started working on the side as an Independent Consultant for Arbonne, a company that produces and sells botanically-based personal care and nutrition products, which is something that I’m passionate about. The positivity and encouragement of the Arbonne community planted the idea that I had the power to change my career path if I wanted to — that I had the ability to enjoy my professional life. I also started investing in mindset coaching and training, often with Pace, over the next two years.  

Eventually, I reached the point where I decided I wanted to change.  Thanks to the personal growth I was experiencing, I was opening myself up to new possibilities!

Fast forward to November 2017 and a text message from my friend Aris that changed my life. All it said was “I have something to ask you!” I had no idea what she had up her sleeve, but I was curious. We talked that night, and she shared about a job opening for an event manager at the wedding venue where she worked. I told her to pass my name along to her boss, after of course talking the opportunity over with both my parents and Andrew to make sure I was being wise. I had the exact same fearful excitement in my gut that I felt when I decided to go to Pitt and when I accepted the teaching job and moved home. This idea too was scary, but I knew that paying attention to that feeling and pushing past the fear had always worked well for me.

After two interviews in less than a week, I was offered the job. It took me a few days to say yes, but YES I said! It was a whirlwind. I was scared to leave the comfort of what I knew and what I had worked so hard for, but I was thrilled for the opportunity ahead. I knew in my heart that my fear was keeping me stuck and allowing School Year Marlena to dominate my life. I knew that I was ready for a change.

I’ve been in my new career for a few months now, and I can say that I’ve been able to ditch the worst qualities about School Year Marlena and harness the good from Summer Marlena. I have no regrets! When I’m at work, I love meeting with newly engaged couples and giving them tours of the venue. I even think to myself, “This is my new classroom. These are my new students. This is really happening!” I’m excited again, like I was when I first started teaching. I missed that feeling, and I’m so grateful to have found it again. I’m also able to spend more time growing my Arbonne business, and I’m more present and able to relax at home with Andrew.

This has been an incredible lesson for me — just because something scares you and gives you butterflies, doesn’t mean it isn’t right for you. 

If you feel excited and scared at the same time, it probably means that something great is around the corner!

If you’ve been feeling stuck or bored or stressed because of your career, I want to be your cheerleader. If you keep thinking over and over that maybe you should make a change, do it! I can’t encourage you enough to look at the other opportunities that excite you — even when they scare you! I wholeheartedly believe that means you’re on the right track.

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