Activate Your Career Dreams:  It’s Never Too Late!

My first career crisis happened in college. After investing three years and a lot of my parent’s money- organic chemistry stood between me and graduation. Either I passed this course or I would not graduate. I would not get into graduate school. I would never get a job. I would wind up homeless on the street. Ok, so those statements may not be based on accurate scientific theory, but my parents had threatened horrible consequences if I did not get a degree. That was a cold hard fact.

Passing the course was going to be a bit challenging. I received an F on the first test and an F+ on the second. The one thing I was good at in organic chemistry was failing. With those grades, even if I aced the final, I would not pass the course. But I took a positive attitude, an optimistic outlook and a healthy dose of parental fear to my chemistry professor and tried to negotiate. “Professor Evil, if I get an A on your final exam, will you please give me a passing grade for the course?” (insert whimper and quivering lip). After the maniacal laughter, Professor Evil magnanimously said, “If you ace the final, I will give you an A for the entire semester!” (insert more maniacal laughter).

So I made a plan. I figured out how many chapters I would need to review per night, reserved a library study booth and posted a flyer for a tutor. I was going to make it happen. I was going to ace this class.

There was one small problem. Deep down inside, I knew that if I succeeded, then I would have to take another chemistry course just like it the following semester… and then another and another. Secretly, I wanted out. Each day, I found a million different things to do -sort laundry, color code my binders, textbooks and highlighters, go visit my best friend at a school 100 miles away.  My subconscious and my heart weren’t letting me get anywhere near a chemistry book.

The night before the exam, I knew there was no way I was going to pass. There was no way I was going to graduate with a Chemistry degree. I knew it was over. I sat at my desk, took a deep breath… and I smiled. A huge weight was lifted. Suddently, there was joy and hope for the future. I could dream again.

What did I dream about? When I was supposed to be in the lab counting hydrocarbons- I would always end up on stage helping my theatre friends hang lights, sew costumes, paint sets and rehearse scenes. My heart knew where it wanted to be.

The late Steve Jobs once said “Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

I listened to my inner voice, my intuition and my heart. Two years later, my mother proudly hung my theatre degree in a place of honor and for the next 12 years, I was fortunate to work at some of  the best professional theatres in the country.

Maybe it’s time you listened. Where is your inner voice leading you? What is your heart’s desire?


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A big dreamer as well as a big do-er, Madelyn draws on her experience of successfully navigating three high-profile careers to provide the expert advice, encouragement, and step-by-step action plans you need to activate your career dreams.

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