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

Easing the Transition

Dear Sue: I am 42 years-old and I still am trying to figure out what I want to do with my life when I grow up. I've figured out what I do not want to do -- which is continue in the occupation that has sustained me for 15 of the last 17 years. However, I don't want to throw away that experience either.

I recently graduated from college and would like to go on to a graduate program, and eventually teach at the community college level or higher, despite the politics.

Meanwhile I need to work, yet I have no idea what I should apply for other than what I am skilled in and do not want to do. Do you have any sage advice? 

- Steve

Sue Says: Although you say that you do not know what you want to do with your life, you sound as though you have more focus than you give yourself credit for.
The problem may be that you want to make too many changes all at once.

Do you feel an immediate need to change jobs and get out of the same position you have held for 15 years? Or is going back to school and eventually teaching a higher priority? If it is, then your focus needs to be on your education at this time. If you decide to pursue graduate school, you'll need a job that will sustain you. It may not be the best time to embark on a new adventure -- the stability of a job in which you are comfortable may be just what you need during the time you are in school.

Sure you've realized that this isn't the type of work you want to be doing the rest of your life, but you will be working toward a goal that will enable you to do what you want once you graduate.

If you aren't sure about going back to school, then you are free to invest time in yourself and look into other opportunities.

Although many people spend their whole lives in search of what they want to do, the fact that you are looking for answers indicates you are ready to make some decisions (and changes) in your life. I wish I could tell you what to do, but only you know what you really want -- take the time you need to figure it out.

Dear Sue: I'm a sales rep with a company trying to come back from the brink of bankruptcy. I've lost sales because employees in our sister company lied about ordering parts for us and delayed jobs by not getting the information back to us in a timely manner.

My manager isn't very aggressive when dealing with these problems, and in my opinion, he is too polite in his response.

I'm in my first year of outside sales and thought it would be great if I could help turn this company around, but now I wonder if I'm wasting my time.

I have increased sales substantially and enjoy what I do, but am not sure I should continue to push myself when it seems as though there is so little support. Any insight or help you could give would be greatly appreciated. 

- John

Sue Says: You have found your niche in sales and sound as though you have been very successful in spite of the problems you have had to deal with. Congratulations!

Talk with your boss and express your concerns. Determine whether the challenges you are facing are short term or indicative of future problems. Then make the decision whether you will leave or stay.

No matter what company you sell for, you will face challenges -- it's part of the world of sales. You will find there are people who don't get back to you promptly, you will have orders that cannot be filled, orders that won't be shipped on time, and because of circumstances out of your control, you will occasionally lose sales through no fault of your own.

And in spite of all of the things that happen to you, you will become a better salesperson and you will prevail. All great salespeople do!

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
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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