Career Changes with SD

Figuring Out a New Career Now That You Have Spasmodic Dysphonia

by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran

Most working people with spasmodic dysphonia that I’ve met have reported how their career got derailed with the onset of the disorder. I’ve heard from those who quit jobs due to the frustration of not fully performing all the way to getting fired. It’s not a happy time when your plans fall apart.

In addition to the hit your self-esteem takes with the loss of your job, you’re left with the question: “Now what do I do?” It’s almost as much fun as a root canal. I’m not about to tell you to get over it. The loss you feel is very real and the lack of clarity about what you should do can be troubling. I’d like to offer up some insight on changing careers as well as a process for you to use to arrive at an answer. Some insight:

  • Figuring out what you want to do when you grow up is as hard when you’re 50+ as it was when you were 18. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “universally” known process for identifying a career and if you feel like you’re floundering a bit, that’s the reason. It’s not you.
  • A job search is the worst way to identify your next job or career. Gone is the day of “finding something”. Thanks to the recession close to a decade ago, it’s a buyers’ market with hiring. They want you to come fully packaged and identifiable for a specific position. The hiring people won’t try to translate your skills into positions they have. That means you figure this out FIRST and then package yourself with your resume and social media to fully reflect the position you’re pursuing.
  • More than likely, you’re a mature worker and that means you have amassed a great background doing a variety of things. You may feel like you have to communicate all of that great experience as a means of increasing your odds of landing a position. You could probably do at least a dozen different jobs. If you attempt to do that it will backfire on you (think 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound bag). If you try to be everything you could possibly be, you will do nothing.
  • Focus your resume to 1-2 related occupations so it jumps off the page to the reader. That means you have to narrow down your target list of jobs so you focus everything on only a couple of occupations. I realize this point isn’t intuitively obvious to many. It’s the hardest lesson I’ve had to teach my mature clients. Reread this if you need to, until you get it.
  • What jobs sound fun to do? What is it about them that attracts you? If money were no object, what would you do? (All endeavors can generate income).
  • What skills or experience would you reuse if not combined with other things you didn’t like? Example: I’m a career coach and coaching was previously only one skill among many I used as an Operational Manager. I took that skill and made it my primary work.
  • What types of things interest you outside of work? Hobbies, groups, etc. You may have had a heart for non-profit work or politics, and now may be the time to jump in.
  • Take an assessment. I’m a bit reluctant to suggest this as I think if you take a career assessment without a professional to help you process the results, you may find the value limited. Assessments will tell you things you probably already know but it will also interpret that information into occupations you may not have thought of. If you take one, this is the one I prefer:

Use other resources

There are scores of books available to aid you in making a career decision that is excellent. I would pick one and stick with it rather than refer to several as you’ll find each one different and that is because there is more than one path to lead you to your decision. Of course, an optional resource is a career coach to aid you with the process and to keep you accountable. I call it optional as cost is involved and that may not be something your budget will allow.

Practice patience

In our age of immediate gratification, we are looking for quick and easy answers to everything. This is a big decision. If you lose patience and give up only to launch a job search, you have done yourself a big disservice. If this were a simple to answer task, you would already know the answer. Have patience with the process and most of all – yourself. I read a statistic a few years ago. It said most people spend more time planning their vacation than planning their career. Now is the time for you to invest time and energy in you. It will pay off in big ways.