What to Do When You’ve Changed Your Mind About Everything

June 12, 2011

They say if you don’t have a destination in mind, any road will get you there.

Well crap, I apparently, no longer have a destination… well I do, but it’s a rather vague place, known tritely as “happy,” but since when can I not even define what that means?

I listen to the MorningCoach podcast (the free version, but am interested in investing in the subscriber service), which posts on iTunes every Monday. Every week, Scott asks you “did you do your homework?” and take an assessment of your satisfaction in life and if you’re where you want to be. If you are, he says, keep on going. If not, figure out what’s not right and work on it a little each day or take a big leap to make something change. The power is simply in doing a check in- simply taking stock of where you are, to monitor what’s happening in your life before too much time lapses and you’re in a rut.

Well this is my check-in, and all I can say is, “Crap.” I came to Chicago nearly a year ago, to get my master’s degree in sociology with the intention of using it as a stepping stone for my Ph.D. and a blissful, erudite life in academics. I pictured myself with “Dr.” in front of my name and “,Ph.D” right after it. You name it, I’ve had my a$$ handed to me while doing it- budgeting, networking, dating, getting to know the city, stress management….oh ya, and then there’s the big thing….I kind of don’t want the career I’ve mapped out for myself, you know, like, at all.

Needless to say, I’ve been uncomfortable since moving to Chicago, and stay ever more uncomfortable still- especially since I had my “Oh Cr@p” as detailed in my Crying-in-Beer-Post.   I’ve been uncomfortable, but simultaneously anxious that I’m not actually moving forward. The only thing I can garner from this sort of depressing change of plans (I mean, honestly, who wants to pour themselves into a traditional academic career only to realize it’s not for them?)  is that I was able to at least knock one career path off my list, additionally it did serve up a healthy dose of experience that I can use to better tailor my life from this point forward.

It’s amazing how questioning your career choice leads you to questioning absolutely everything….am I really happy? Could I be happier?  What am I truly passionate about?  If that wasn’t my life’s work, what would be?  What meaning can I discover in life?  Am I healthy as I need to be?  Am I really ready to find love?  Needless to say,  I’ve become a hot-mess of thoughts like this…I have few answers.

But, I have found that if you find yourself running your mind around in circles trying to answer these big questions,  if you’re a 20-something, or a 30-something, or even a 60-something, the only thing that brings me comfort, strengthens my faith and gives me hope that I’m on the right path to find out, is to combat your anxiety by taking a risk. (odd, I know).  If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always had.

For example…I’ve been stressing about money. It seems to be evaporating out of my hands as I finish my master’s degree and I’ve been freaking out.  Oddly enough,  the one thing that made me stop worrying about my financial  future…I couldn’t think of any reasonable, attainable number in my bank account that would make me feel safe and secure.  Thinking of getting a second job, on top of classes, while still meeting my goals for health and frugality only stressed me out further.

I got the idea that I would invest my money in stocks.  Stocks….they friggin’ BAFFLE me.  I couldn’t tell you how to get started or what the heck it means, but I know that putting just $250 aside in some form of investment would make me feel like I’m making progress.  It would challenge me, not simply put a few extra dollars in my account in the way a second job would.  I know what would come (for me) in getting  a second job….more hours, but more taxes paid, more stress juggling the two jobs between travel and personal time and very little growth.

I’m willing now, to do something I’ve never done, to get something I’ve never had…and who knows- I may not end up investing in stocks, I might invest somewhere else, but it was something I had never thought of doing and I’m finally open to it.  It’s to the point now, where my career and financial anxiety is so bad (since I don’t have the career “gimme” I thought I had), that I’d rather pull the trigger and take a risk now, than to sit in this state for another month, another year, another moment and watch my money slowly be used up just to sustain a life I hate without putting up a good fight.

I’ll keep you posted on what I decide on.  I’ve seen advertisements for Betterment.com, a nearly “stock portfolios for dummies” kind of service,  or maybe I’ll go it alone.  Thoughts?

All I know, is that I have no idea anymore what to do with myself but I know I just need to start moving away from this place I’m at now…..far, far away from the nuclear fallout that was to be my career in academics.  I’ll take what I’ve learned and start doing some defining….and I’m going to drop some dollars. Oh yes…it’s on.


7 comments so far.

7 responses to “What to Do When You’ve Changed Your Mind About Everything”

  1. Betterment can be an easy place to start but it's not the best value out there. You'll be paying around 1% in fees every year, which is very high considering what you'll be holding.

    I'd recommend you shop around for a starter fund or etf. A lot of the major brokerages have lots of resources to help you get started (Schwab, T. Rowe Price, Vanguard). If you're looking for a quick, one shot solution to start in while you learn more you might want to look at the Vanguard Star Fund (VGSTX). It's what I started with a few years ago, and it's basically a fund of funds targeted towards new investors. The fees are about a quarter of the fees you'd pay with betterment.

    Good luck! Looking forward to reading your updates 🙂

    • ShannynofFB says:

      Thanks for the heads up! I figured that we'd have to pay for the convenience of it all somewhere, and if I'm serious about investing, scrapping the extra income to pay for my "ignorance" or lack of confidence by relying on a site can be a real drain on any potential gains. Thanks for the feedback and I totally dig your blog!

  2. Alyse <3 says:

    Wow! Serious thoughts here!

    First off: YOU ARE AMAZING!
    most people have not/ will not accomplish all the things you have accomplished at this point in your life in their entire lifetime!
    2nd: Moving away=scary, debt=scarier, future=probably the scariest, BUT….remembering that a ton of people are out there rooting you on=priceless.

  3. Alyse <3 says:

    The investments I have made (and have some experience with): bonds (super safe, VERY long term, great return, not-so liquid funds, etc), High interest money market savings account (super safe, liquid funds, small interest but better than a general savings account, and a great start), certificate accounts (money locked up for an extended period of time-a few months, super safe, higher interest rate than money markets and by proxy general savings accounts, etc) and stocks (less safe, market driven, risky, potentially advantageous returns, and not-so easily made liquid).

  4. Alyse <3 says:

    I would like to think that risk is part of the equation for success. What do I know? I suck at math…but if you think about it in general terms or in theory…going to college is a risk right? But if you go to college, you increase your odds of earning enough money to pay for a middle-class standard of living, financially-though no job is guaranteed just because you graduated. Every risk we take is for a reason, usually to better ourselves and others. But if we never take risks in life, we have never lived (experienced or failed). Every time we find ourselves in crisis or doubting ourselves is a moment where we get to check in with ourselves(reflection). Sometimes what we do best is not what we like to do the most. Its okay to change direction or to change your career 3-4 times in ones lifespan. Being uncertain= being human.

    You are an incredable woman! I look up to you and you inspire me! I know things will work out beautifully for you! I hope you find an investment that works for you! Can't wait to hear what you plan to invest in!

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