Choosing the right career path can be one of the most difficult decisions a person can make in their lives. Even for a person who is fortunate enough to decide on a career early there can many obstacles and stumbles along the way.
Take my situation for example. I always knew I would be a Doctor Chiropractic, working alongside my father and sister, both also being chiropractors. Not only that, but I have two uncles, two cousins, and a plethora of friends who are also chiropractors. It seems that once it is in your blood you have no other choice but to become one also.
Well, eight years into practice as a Seattle chiropractor, I ran into a colleague at a special event held at the Columbia Tower. We spoke about our profession for a few minutes, only to find out he was quitting his career as a chiropractor to become a children's book author in Los Angeles. When I asked how he could do such a thing, he replied, " You've never heard of the 10 year itch?"
Obviously I hadn't.
According to him, and others since, the 10 year itch is a moment in your career path where you choose to sink or swim. As my father explained , you come to a crossroads and have to decide to grind it out or select something that you believe might make you more content. Supposedly this happens in every person's life, and explains why the average person has eight to ten different jobs throughout their lifetime.
I still found this hard to believe. Why would somebody want to choose a different career than chiropractic? Our patients love us. We help people with a wide variety of health issues. Our schooling would go to waste if we switched midway through. Little did I know I was only two years away from these same crossroads I was warned about.
A year prior to my own career crossroads, I attended my brother-in-law's high school graduation. For a small private school it was quite a lengthy affair, including a live rock band. My son and I had attended to support our family, but didn't realize I would hear one of the most inspiring commencement speakers ever.
The commencement speaker was a father of a former student who has done well for himself in business. We was addressing the three graduates but I felt like he was speaking directly to me. He explained the evolution of his schooling and career as it he has seen it through the eyes of Facebook. He let us know the feeling of seeing so many of his "friends" who he had not spoken with in thirty years attempt to resurrect their youth. Essentially acting like teenagers looking for the next big party.
He referenced this to explain that these adults feelings were caused by the easy choices they made early on in their college education and careers. The speech went on to suggest that the easy choice is not always the right choice, and that the difficult path is often the most rewarding.
When time is invested in an education and experience that is difficult it is far more rewarding at the end. These neurological connections that are made can help us clear the hurdles of the 10 year itch, and allow us to find pleasure in our earned expertise.
It was my hope that everyone in the place was listening, and for the first time an adult was hitting these youngsters with truth. Choose the tough path now, before you feel like you want a re-do. Make mistakes early so you still have time to recover.
In 2011 I faced my own 10 year itch head on. I was hit harder with it than I expected, and perused the varying career options that a chiropractic degree could take me.
Do I become an MD? PT? DO? RN?
I took a serious look at the different options, but I couldn't figure out if I was doing so for a new challenge or if I really wanted a different career. What I did realize is I wish I would have started with a stronger base in hard science. A math or physics degree first, but when I think back I didn't have the courage or discipline to attempt such a demanding course load. If only I had the same fortitude I have gained as a chiropractor and parent.
What I did figure out is that there will always be hard times in any career. The most important thing is to find out what you love to do and a career just may follow. When this is combined with a solid and grounded education the sky is the limit at any age or timeframe.
There is much fulfillment in a career and in life when a person has earned it the hard way. The easiest way to battle the 10 year itch is to prepare before hand with passion, dedication, and choosing the more difficult path.
Author Bio: Dr. Graeme Gibson, D.C. is a chiropractor in Seattle, WA. He has been in fulltime practice at Queen Anne Chiropractic Center since 2001. When he isn't helping people achieve wellness he can be found spending time with his family, playing hockey, and writing about things that interest him.