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Jeanette's Graduation Day 1995

Imagine this scene…..You’ve been in a car accident, or suffered a heart attack.

The paramedic takes your pulse and says “It’s thready, at best” and then the heroic measures begin. IV line, injection of adrenaline, oxygen mask… you’ve seen the movies and know how this all goes.

Well, 7 years ago, I took my own “pulse” and it was “thready, at best”. I’m not talking about my real pulse, I’m talking about my career pulse. I did a pulse check of my career, and I didn’t like what I saw.

In 1995, I graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science with honours at Melbourne University. It took me 6 long years to get that degree and I was rightfully very proud of myself. My parents were proud too- that’s them in the photo on my graduation day. “A Doctor in the family!” said my Dad proudly. And so it was- Dr Jeanette West BVSc (hons).

So how could it be that just 11 short years later, I would take my career pulse and know that no amount of oxygen, adrenaline or IV fluids would revive me? Well I didn’t TRULY know that at the time, but what I did know was that I was in a job where I felt under pressure all the time, underpaid, under appreciated and under challenged. I was also being asked to give more, sacrifice more family time (I had 2 quite young boys at the time), and could foresee no benefits in doing “more of the same”. I could have found another veterinary job pretty easily (in fact I was being head hunted at the time), but my heart wasn’t in it. I was tired, disillusioned and burnt out. It took me months to take action, and I let things get pretty bad before I did. I didn’t want to go to work, found fault with everything, became so brutally honest with my clients that I sometimes saw them blanche, and it was in that moment that I knew I had to make a change. My beloved clients deserved more, my patients deserved more, and I deserved MUCH more.

Reviewing my journal from that time is revealing.

This is what I wrote:

How do I feel about my current situation? Frustrated. Scared to move on. Angry with myself for feeling like I am wasted. Stuck because I need to keep earning money to pay for our lifestyle.

In hindsight, if I had have paused and taken a pulse check on my career a couple of years earlier, perhaps things wouldn’t have got so bad for me. I was so busy doing the doing, I was not taking time for reflection in my career. If there is one thing I would have differently back then, it would have been to pause and take stock, then plan for a positive change. I would have also challenged my underlying assumptions (eg. my belief that the only way I could earn money to pay for our lifestyle was to practice as a Vet), and sought a guide or mentor to support me in that reflection. I did eventually do all those things, and as a result I have moved on from my veterinary profession and into work that more closely aligns with my values and talents.

Hanging out in the ICU at Werribee.

Hanging out with “Mocha” in the ICU at Werribee 1994.

If this story resonates with you, then your opportunity to make a positive change in your career and life is just around the corner.

I am pleased to be teaming up with my long time friend, career and life coach Dana Hughes of Dana Hughes Career and Training to present a workshop called “Relaunch Your Career”. And, you guessed it, one of the first things we will do on the day is “Take your Pulse Check”! Dana is an amazingly warm and insightful human being who will take us on a journey of reflection and discovery and help you plan for a better future.

Relaunch Your Career is on Saturday 21 June 2014 at the beautiful Knockwood Estate in Mossvale Park, Berrys Creek, South Gippsland, Victoria. We will share great local food and enjoy the support and camaraderie that will develop during the day.

Registrations are now open and places are strictly limited so you will need to get in early. Follow this link to get more information.  I can’t wait to see you there!    Click here  to register or go to the Relaunch Your Career page on my website to view the full content of the workshop. (An early bird discount applies)