What if at almost 36 years of age you are finally starting to get a vague idea of what you might want to be when you grow up, and a conversation with a friend gets you thinking about what it might take to change paths altogether? What if the things you might want to learn and do involve giant vats of both money and time, neither of which you have to spare? What if it would take a massive, terrifying effort simply to fulfill the prerequisites for an exercise/wellness degree, never mind the curriculum itself, which involves, like, science? What if it seemed absolutely one hundred percent impossible, that you’d never be able to afford it or somehow shoehorn it into a life that is already packed to capacity with family and work and everything else?

What would you do?

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caleal
caleal
12 years ago

ALSO- The average person changes career paths like, seven times now-a-days. It’s not like it used to be, where you scored your job out of high school and kept it until retirement. 36 is not old.

At my graduation for my master’s degree, there was a man there who was graduating with our class at like, 75. He was awesome. Age should not be a factor in anything you want to do.

Layla
Layla
12 years ago

You already know the answer, you’re just afraid. But 99% of this is just finally figuring out your passion in life, and if you’ve found it, then I envy you. Math/science is a cinch compared to that. Congratulations!

Accidental Olympian
12 years ago

Do it.

My mother didn’t find her grove until she was in her 50’s. Although terrifying to go back to school, start over, and leave everything she thought she knew in the dust, she says she is thrilled she didn’t let fear stop her.

Do it.

Sonia
Sonia
12 years ago

If it were me, I’d talk about it forever, and do nothing about it. I finally realized that I don’t like change, and that’s the only, admittedly lame, excuse I have for not doing anything I’ve wanted to. For example, I worked at the same soul sucking job for 15 years because I was well paid and utilizing my degree. I HATED IT!! For fifteen years?! WTF was I doing?! It’s something about me that I really dislike, and am trying to change. Which? I hate change……aaaaaaand it’s a vicious circle that only I can do something about. I’m a work in progress.
But YOU are brave, and have been forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and succeeding at every turn. You are kick-ass woman, and you can do this! I second (or third?) the suggestion to write a book, and omit the money issue of going back to school. I would be first in line to buy several copies! As far as I’m concerned, you’ve already decided. Go for it!

Lena
12 years ago

Despite the 3 million quotes already shared with you, I’m going to put in mine:

“Dwell in possibility, don’t wait for evidence”.

That one convinced me to go to massage school, even though I swore after attaining my BA that I would never go back to school. I’m happy I did – when it’s a degree that you are actually passionate about, it’s much more fun.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

You may want to consider whether you need a degree to do what you want to do. And will the money you earn with it be enough to justify the cost and time of the education? For me, I guess it was, because I earned a lot after school and made the most of it while it lasted. Long term, though, maybe I should have gone a different route.

I went back to college when my kids were toddlers. I was 30. I could only take night classes at first. The counselor told me, “At this rate, you’ll be 35 when you finish.” I said, “I’ll be 35 anyway.” And I kept at it.

I finally got my degree in urban planning and got a great job – then the development biz came to a halt and I got laid off. Now I can’t get a job in that field. While I’m glad I have a degree, if only for the sense of accomplishment, I really wish I’d learned a more marketable and specific skill – in healthcare, maybe. Good luck and choose wisely!

Erin W
12 years ago

After nearly 10 years working in real estate finance and with a two month old baby, and living on a single income that BARELY paid the bills, I decided to go back to school to become a teacher. That was 18 months ago, I’m pregnant with my second and still have nearly two more years to go. We still have BARELY enough to live on and, at times, the stress and fear are nearly overwhelming.

Do I regret it? Not once, not for one single moment. Someday, being able to tell my children that I did what seemed impossible, will make every sacrifice, every late night, every tear-filled time I sat down to pay the bills worth it.

Go for it! Like others have said before me, if you don’t do it now, how will you feel in 10 years?

By the way, I’m getting straight A’s, just spent an evening with my girlfriends and see my husband every single day. I don’t know how it works, but somehow, it all falls into place.

Emily
12 years ago

I’m thinking the same thing here. Wondering about getting a nursing degree…

jonniker
12 years ago

Well, Linda, you do it, that’s what. We only get one life, and it’s too short to be dicking around NOT doing what we want to be doing with it. You’ve been seeking an alternative career path for a long time, and in all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you so consistently excited about something as fitness, wellness and health. You’re good at it, you’re inspired by it and you’ve devoted an assload of your spare time to it. I’d say you love it.

Right now, JB is doing a form of HIS dream, right? And you’ve given up a lot for that, no questions asked. It’s a lot of sacrifice for your family, but you can do it.

As for your age, oh whatever. You’re going to be [insert age here] ANYWAY, so why not be that age doing what you love to do? We all deserve it.

Do it. DO IT. Remember that post you wrote about how you’re saying yes, and you said yes to the half marathon? Say yes to yourself here, too. The rest will come.

Kate
Kate
12 years ago

I’m in the process of quitting my corporate job to go back to school to be a high school teacher. After 10 years climbing the corporate ladder, I can’t believe that I’m starting all over again. And when I’m awake at 4 AM freaking out about all of it, I don’t for one second consider changing my mind…the only question I ask myself is why I didn’t do it sooner.

Good luck, and I look forward to hearing about your journey!

SarahO
SarahO
12 years ago

I know how crazy it is with work and family, but we always seem to find the time for what’s important. The same goes for school. If it’s what you want, you’ll find the time. No time like the present.

Melissa
Melissa
12 years ago

Get creative. Find ways to make it happen…you’re already doing an “impossible” thing by training for the half marathon and look, you are doing it. I like what another comment said about thinking about how you would feel in ten years if you didn’t do it. Keep expanding your horizons…

Belle
Belle
12 years ago

I may be the oldest reader/commenter you have at age 60, but my years of experience should count for something, eh? Do it. I have always regretted not finishing my degree. I had all the reasons you did for not going back, but the fact of the matter is if you don’t do it now, you might never.

There is never a “perfect” time – never. Just give it a try! There’s no law that says if you start it, you can’t stop if it doesn’t work out. But sitting around wishing and wondering is squandered time!

Spring semester starts in January. Sign up! :)

Anyabeth
12 years ago

Having passion about what you do is something that you almost can’t put a value on it. It might take some time and some creativity and a lot of compromise to make happen but it could repay you every day.

I am in the process of making a big career change that is incredibly scary and seemed impossible until I just did it. It is still a work in process and I still freak out and yet my life is already better.

Christine
12 years ago

DO IT.

It’s never too late. Never. Just think how you would feel ten or fifteen years from now if you did not take this chance and act on this idea. IMHO, life’s to short NOT to take chances like this.

Jae
Jae
12 years ago

Try, try, try. You never know until you try and you’ll always wonder if you don’t.

Mary
12 years ago

Do it. I always meant to go to law school, but got distracted along the way, and now I’m old enough (48) that I doubt it would be worth it in terms of the money I’d make vs. how much it would cost. The difference, though, is that I’m pretty happy with my job right now, and I get a lot of the same things out of it that I would being a lawyer, so I’m pretty at peace with the decision. But if I had thought seriously about it? At your age? I wish I’d done it.

Krist
Krist
12 years ago

I don’t have kids, but I do work full time while going to school full time. It is without a doubt the scariest, best decision I have ever made. Don’t think of it as something that will take x number of years or x number of classes. Focus on one step at a time. I will graduate in the summer of 2011. I rarely think beyond the current semester. Attainable goals, baby steps. Just like fitness, right? I’m going to graduate with a degree that will help me do something I love for a living, and as a bonus, I’ve never felt more confident in myself in my life. If I can do this, I can do most anything.

Life’s too short. Go for it.

lo
lo
12 years ago

I’d do just what I’m doing now, change my whole life, but only after 1000 panic attacks.

You inspired me to start (and keep!) running after a lifetime of failed attempts just through a blog. You can definitely do this!!

Steph the WonderWorrier

If we only get one shot at life, and you’ve found something that will make you feel both challenged and fulfilled, then I say you do whatever you can to achieve your goal.

Jem
Jem
12 years ago

Duh, just do it :)

Jem
Jem
12 years ago

(sorry but you know you’ll figure it out – anything that makes your spirit perk up like that is worth figuring out!)

Kristen
12 years ago

All I know is that I took a chance and changed careers and now do something I enjoy. A really bad day at my current job is still better than some of the good days at my old one.

Liz
Liz
12 years ago

I decided at 25 that I wanted to be a doctor. I had exactly 1 pre-med class in college, Bio 101, in which I earned a B-, and I topped out in math with a C in trigonometry. I remember moaning about how long it would take (10 years!) to my father, who, like many others above, pointed out that I would be 35 no matter what. So I figured out what pre-reqs I needed, decided that I would start with a chem class, and if I sucked, I was only out the tuition for one class. I rocked it. i couldn’t BELIEVE how much easier the work was when I just buckled down and did the homework instead of whining about it for an hour and then spending fifteen minutes deciding I wouldn’t bother to do it. Fast-forward through 10 years and at the age of 35, I finished my training and got my first job as a full-fledged doctor. It’s been a lot of blood (sometimes even mine), sweat, and occasionally tears, and I would not change it for anything. And I’ve seen over the last few years what you can do if you put your mind to it, which is…a lot.

CBO
CBO
12 years ago

You go for it. Never leave a path untraveled, untested. You suck it up, bear the pain and work and go for it.

Julie
Julie
12 years ago

I believe that when you do something you love, it is not work. Look at all the support you have here. go for it. What do you have to lose?

Laura
12 years ago

Don’t ‘should’ on yourself :) (Say it fast and you’ll get the idea). You don’t want to look back years from now and realized that you should have done this or should have done that. None of us want to ‘should’ on ourselves ’cause that’s just wrong :)

Rachael
12 years ago

If you have the resources – DO IT. And don’t look back.

Must Be Motherhood
12 years ago

Oh my god, woman. If you are lucky enough to have figured out what you want to be when you grow up, you *must* do it. I’m jealous that inspiration has hit you. But you’ve also worked pretty damn hard to let it find you.

Melody
12 years ago

In that hypothetical case, I am very jealous of you. I wish I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up! (I turn 27 in January–plenty of time, but, uh, I have no clue.) Even if you move in that direction in slow, incremental, manageable steps, you have a direction in which to go! That’s an enviable thing! Congratulations!

Meredith Savage
12 years ago

Read this:
http://healthylivingholly.wordpress.com

She has a degree from UC Davis in computer science/programming, got into running and fitness and went back for a 2nd degree and is working as an RD now in Northern Cali. She is a very open person so I’m sure if you email her about anything, she’ll answer your questions.

kakaty
12 years ago

I’m one for taking practicalities over platitudes. So, if I were in your shoes, I would sign up for the prerequisites and see how well you can mange the time/budget issues. That way if you discover that you need to wait on the full degree until the kids are in school (& you no longer have daycare payments, or…whatever) then you will hit the degree in a few years with all the prerequisites done.

I just know from my own experience (I still want to go back to school for a masters in nursing – and I will someday) that existing class offerings mean 2 things: 1) it is tuition or the mortgage and 2) I would see my kid for like 1 hour a day, if that. Not worth the trade off in my life…but by all means check out what would need to be done to make it happen!

Daily Tragedies
12 years ago

All right, this sounds very ass-vicey, but you asked…

1. TRY! Forget Yoda and that stupid, “there is no try” business. Damn straight trying is worth something.

2. If you can’t do this balls-to-the-wall, look for ways to wedge things in on a part-time basis.

The friends I’m most envious of are the ones who either (a) love their job or (b) have a job that allows them to pursue their passions during the rest of the week. (and somehow they manage to keep their job from taking over the rest of their life)

Shawna
Shawna
12 years ago

What would I do? Well, I can tell you exactly what I would do because I was faced with the same thing: I did not go back to school for architecture or teaching when I realized that I would have loved either one as a career. Instead I kept my boring but stable and well-paying job with great benefits. BUT I teach classes at the gym to satisfy that teaching yen and stay in shape at the same time, and have dabbled in residential design by doing a small infill project. I continue to keep an eye on the market for opportunities to buy/build houses. When the kids are a little older, I have every intention of designing and building our next house. And our house after that, actually.

In other words, I found a way to do things that interest me, at least enough to satisfy the desire to be involved in those areas. My advice would be: if you can go full-bore for what you want, do it. If you can’t realistically devote yourself 100% to it right now though, or want to get your feet a bit wet first, the process to be certified as a personal trainer or some such thing isn’t huge. Why not try that and see if that sort of career is a good fit?

Erin
Erin
12 years ago

I think I’d start first with one prerequisite class at the local community college. I’m pretty sure you’d see just HOW do-able this whole thing is!

willikat
12 years ago

Do it. Don’t look back.

Alyson
12 years ago

Make a plan – write it down – and then figure out how to accomplish your goal. Then take me as your first fitness student!

kathy
kathy
12 years ago

I would consider myself lucky to have FINALLY found my passion. I say go for it!! Show your boys what life is really about.

Jan Ross
12 years ago

When I was 36, I went back to school and got a certification as a school librarian and my Masters in Education. I worked for 20 years and loved it. Then, when I was 56, I retired and became a travel writer. It’s NEVER TOO LATE! Do it.

jen
jen
12 years ago

I struggle with this every day. My problem is I don’t know for sure what it is that I do want to do…other than staying home full time and writing. So I keep plugging away in hopes that I will either figure out how to swing staying at home or find something that I do really want to do.

Seeing as you’ve got it figured out…I would say make it work. About 80 some people have said this before me, but after all the changes you’ve made in the last few years, I don’t think there is anything you can’t do. Best of luck!

kim
kim
12 years ago

I agree with those who have said – 10 years (or 5 or 2) will go by whether you are in school or not – the length of time it takes to reach your goal doesn’t matter – if it’s what you want, you should do it.

That said, I am curious about your goal for it. Can it be accomplished without the degree? I’m not against education (have a BA and MBA…I am proud of the accomplishment but if I had it to do over, would not have gotten the MBA and the still-ever-present school loans that paid for it), but I think at this point it should be necessary for achieving your goals because it can be all-consuming – I got my MBA while working full-time with a 2 year old and pregnant/had my baby during all that time. Those 2 years are a blur for me – I barely remember anything my 2nd child did until she was about 3. I exaggerate – but seriously, it was not easy.

I know you can do whatever you set your mind to – and support whatever choice you make.

kim

amber
amber
12 years ago

Maybe take the Mondo Beyondo course as a first step. I just took it in October and found it supremely inspiring and motivating! http://www.mondobeyondo.org/

Joanna
Joanna
12 years ago

Do what you love and what you need will find its way into your life.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

One of my favorite quotes is from “My Dream of You” by Nuala O’Faolain. I’m paraphrasing, but it goes something like “When in doubt, do the more active thing”.

Yes. Just, yes.

deanna
12 years ago

my first inclination is to say DO IT. you can do ANYTHING if you put your mind to it. i received my masters degree from columbia recently and i cant explain the amazing sense of accomplishment i had when i realized i earned it, damnit. it might be a hell of a lot of work while youre doing it, and you might want to kill yourself and wonder what psychotropic dugs you were on when you thought grad school was a good idea, but once you get that degree no one can take it away from you.

my second inclination is to ask if youve explored all your options. i have a full-time job (where i use my masters degree) and a part time job teaching at a gym (which i do because i like it and its fun). i got certified to teach spinning and various other group exercise classes because i enjoy coaching people and talking about fitness and what not. im able to fulfill that part of me, while still keeping my job that “pays the bills.” maybe this wont be enough for you (or maybe it just wasnt what you were getting at to begin with) but it works for me. maybe its something for you to consider.

metalia
12 years ago

I would throw the awesome quote “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” (Neale Donald Walsch) at you. Only I’d say it all sagely like Yoda, and flip the sentence around. I would still mean it, though. Go for it!

She Likes Purple
12 years ago

As long as I had my family’s support (meaning, my husband since my son has to support me until he’s at least old enough to speak), I’d go for what excites me most knowing full well that the most exciting things are also (usually) the most terrifying.

MichelleH
MichelleH
12 years ago

Go for it, Linda! Clearly, you have a passion for it and with that, you can accomplish anything. Like so many others have said, I think the way to look at it is-if you DON’T do this, what would you do instead? And would you be happy doing that?

Go Linda!!!

Victoria
12 years ago

I’d talk it over with my spouse, make sure I had a cushion to fall back on, maybe take a non-permanent leave from my current job and retrain and see if I loved it.

But, that’s just me.

Chaya
Chaya
12 years ago

My mom went back to law school when she was 40, right after my parents divorced. Law school was no joke- she worked full time, studied like mad, and I was a latchkey kid in a new country where I was miserable. But now? She has a great career and life. She did counsel me not to take out such massive loans, but if you can figure out the finances, do it.

36 is so young- do what you love.