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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Big Changes

Dear Sue: When I was in high school trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had three different careers in mind. At the time, I was apprehensive about leaving home to go to a four-year college, and opted to stay home and attend a secretarial college. I thought I would be able to get out into the working world a lot quicker.

Today I manage a clerical staff and am an executive assistant working for the CEO of an excellent company. I have been working with the CEO for 15 years, the company for 12 years and for the first time I am on the verge of leaving the company. I figure I will be working at least another 25-30 years and want to pursue my other dreams.

I have an excellent salary, good rapport with my boss and basically feel I am in the "comfort zone." However, in the back of my mind I am wondering if I truly am happy where I am right now in my career, even though I'm scared to leave.

My salary is at the top level of my field, so my husband does not want me to leave. I've told him that the money doesn't mean anything to me if I'm not happy. I'd rather throw away the money if it took away the stress. I believe if I'm not happy with my job and I'm under a lot of stress, I cannot take care of myself or my family properly (I have three small children and I carry the insurance).

He thinks I won't be happy anywhere else and that work is the same anywhere you go because there are always politics and personalities to deal with.

The medical field has really peaked my curiosity lately. The only problem with that is I would have to go back to school. I was thinking about going to a hospital and working as a secretary to get my foot in the door and then figure out what position I would be most interested in and then go to school for that job (x-ray technician/ultrasound, physical therapist, etc.).

Do I stay where I am or do I bite the bullet and make the change? Of course, my husband is looking at the pay cut and saying we can't afford to have me quit and go back to school full time for a job that would pay so little. He thinks I'm nuts to even think about this. However, if I don't make up my mind soon, I will go nuts. 

- Going nuts

Sue Says: I can understand your desire to make a change and pursue the dreams you have tucked away for so long. I believe it is important for you (or anyone) to identify your passion and follow your heart, and do work that is meaningful. However, even once you identify what you really want to do, there are many things to consider before making any drastic changes.

You have a husband, a family and financial obligations. Therefore, you may not be able to make all of the changes you want all at one time. Once you identify and know what you want to do, it might be best if you make changes gradually.

Consider staying at your current job while you go to school to pursue a degree or additional training. I understand how you feel the money isn't worth much if you are unhappy, but the lack of money can make you unhappy too, and could create a different set of problems.

I am sorry that your husband is not supportive of you making a change, and am sure that it is making your thought process more complicated. There is no reason you couldn't make good money in another field or at another job. And I agree with you, there is much more to a job than just the money. You have every right to make a change and deserve to be happy.

Every company has its problems and politics, but with your history and positive experience, there is no reason you shouldn't fare well in another company.

Only you know how desperate you are to make a change. I believe there is a way you can make yourself and your husband happy, but it would be nice if he could be more supportive of what you want.

It wouldn't hurt to look for opportunities in the medical field or any other field of interest to you. Once you do it will be easier for you to determine if there is a job worth pursuing. Good luck.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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