I was catching up with an old friend this week. Both of us switched careers in the last 5 years, moving from the military to business roles in our early 30s.
For both of us, it has been a tougher transition than we thought. We were successful in our previous careers, and could easily have stayed in the path we’d started. While it was the right choice for both of us, it’s been a challenge to establish ourselves in a new career.
Sometimes we compare the life we have now to what we would have had if we had stayed with our previous role. Here’s the reality: life without change would certainly have been easier.
We were thinking about this together, and my friend said this: “The struggles are what defines you.” The process of continuing to move to a career that fits you better allows you to grow into a person who is using your talents, who welcomes challenges, who continues to grow and adapt.
Here’s the thing: the military wasn’t the right place for our talents in the long term: it wouldn’t have kept us growing and kept us learning. We would have become stagnant, thinking about the same tough problems, rather than struggling to take on new ones.
In the long term, the difficulty of trying to define and reach our new careers is going to make us more into the people that we want to be. Because the process is difficult, it forces us to really consider what we should be doing with our professional lives–it lets us create real change.
Some people find what they are meant to be doing early in life, and that’s a wonderful thing.
But if you’re still working your way into your groove, be open to the process, because the difficulty will help you get where you’re trying to go.
And that’s something worth working for.