The Career Epiphany

The Barbie™ sales distribution data downloaded slowly onto the company computer. I stared blankly at the never-ending rows of numbers appearing on the screen. This is how I began every day in my cubicle at Mattel Toy Company, logging in to view statistics upon arrival at my desk at 9 am, Monday through Friday.

35th Anniversary Barbie Doll
Close-up of Barbie™ 35th Anniversary Special Edition Reproduction of Original 1959 Barbie Doll

My position as sales distribution analyst involved reporting where Barbie dolls lagged in sales and then researching the source of the problem. Maybe Cincinnati stores received a shipment of dolls without legs. Maybe blizzards prevented delivery trucks to transport dolls to Chicago stores. Or maybe a particular store chain didn’t bother to put the Barbies on their shelves.

Sounds like a snooze-fest, right? There I was, working at one of the foremost toy manufacturing companies in the U.S., and I wasn’t having any fun! I operated on automatic: clocking in, looking at sales data, and clocking out, day in and day out.

Then one morning, I sat down at my desk, logged on, and as the data spilled onto my computer screen, I said to myself, “Who cares about this stuff? It’s just Barbie dolls!!!”

I had an epiphany. It was time to get out of there and say my good-byes to Barbie, Ken, and the entire Mattel toy menagerie.

Did I hear a chorus of angels sing when I made my decision? Nope. But it was a kind of intuitive spark that entered my consciousness, a decision that was so certain that I could taste it.

Truth be told, I was also slacking at work. My performance stunk, because I was slogging through the mud of boredom. And so, I began on the path to finding a career that could hold my interest for the long haul.

Past jobs almost seem like past lives—I’ve lived through many of them. When it was time to exit, that voice of reason sings into my ear, “Who cares about this?” I knew I didn’t, so it was time to move on.

My goal became clear: To find a career that meant something to ME. I found it in playing music. It continues to be fun, I don’t grow tired of it, and I feel appreciated because people hire me to perform and buy my music. It’s definitely not a thankless 9 to 5 job.

Many believe that music is a dumb career choice. Even comedian Louis C.K. believes that a music career is a “stupid thing to do for a living…making a noise that a computer can make.” (At least he thinks music is a better career than dance). He branded the musicians in Conan O’Brien’s late night show band “a clump of nothing.” I’d be thrilled to have a cushy TV show band job, and I wouldn’t consider it “stupid” in the least. What a dream…to have a regular, dependable music gig…

Take a look at the assortment of jobs that famous musicians held before they hit it big. Some of them worked at boring day jobs. Maybe they had their own job epiphanies, too. So, I feel I’m in good company.

What was my last day job before I turned to playing the Celtic harp as a career? Hint—A famous musician had the same day job that I had before becoming famous. Guess correctly, and one of my CDs or album downloads is yours! You must be specific to win.

Share your career epiphany stories below…

 

23 Comments

  1. Hi Anne, as you know, I love the harp it is such a beautiful instrument, and the fact that you play so well and have a deep sense and knowledge of music, only heightens my admiration and respect for you. Never stop playing, you are wonderful X

  2. Hi Anne,
    Much love to you and your hubby! I thought your last day job was ASI/Preview House, although I can’t imagine a famous musician working there.

  3. Astrophysicist? Interior designer? Museum docent? Motivational speaker?
    Lol! I’m sure you were quite good at whatever you did after Barbie and before the harp.

    I had a re-epiphany about 8-9 years ago.

    I got into deejaying out of high school. Loved people and loved the rush of a happy dance floor. But I also had a 9-5 job as a corporate auditor for Southland. Loved the people- hated the work.

    When our son came along I started resenting the time I was spending away from him and from my wife, who was working her way through college as well as kicking ass in the business world. My performance and work ethic was still great- just my enthusiasm wasn’t what it was. Deejaying had become more of a job and less of a joy.

    Then we dropped everything and moved to Central America for my wife’s work. The experiences we had there and then in the Caribbean and then FL and GA I wouldn’t have traded for anything. But I became the stay-at-home dad while my wife again kicked even more butt. I did some retail consulting and corporate spying but only deejayed a few times when back in the States for family and friends.

    When we finally ended up in Reno and decided to stop our fun but nomadic wanderings, I started to flip again through my vinyl- look longingly at my turntables and decided then and there that I missed deejaying. It was a reawakening more than an epiphany, but my epiphany was to keep it in perspective: don’t do gigs you don’t want to. Make the initial meeting as much an interview of the potential clients as it was them looking at me the deejay. Bridezillas or bargain seekers are politely turned away. I do mostly weddings, which I love to do and send clients to other deejays for events I don’t like to do as much. The result is I am happy. I look forward to every gig. I rock the house because of my attitude and experience. Things get better and better. My epiphany has been that I don’t need to do every car show or casino event to be successful. Do what you are great at, charge more, work less overall, yet provide an incomparable experience for the clients. I love what I do and I hope that everyone has had or will have an epiphany like ours. Great blog post Anne!

    • Thank you for your fabulous post, KC! I love your story and how you actually came back to DJ-ing. Love your blog, too!

      HaHaHa! I was not an astrophysicist (Neil DeGrasse Tyson has nothing to fear of me). Nor was I an interior designer, museum docent, or motivational speaker, but I don’t think I’d burn out of those jobs to spend the rest of my life playing the harp professionally….

  4. Hi, great post! You are so right, when you start staying to yourself ‘who cares,’ it’s time to move on. As retirement looms, I look forward to more harp playing. I thought you were a part time editor in addition to a harpist?

    • Hi Sandra! That’s so great that you’ll have more time to play the harp when you retire. I am a writer (for MooreThanSEO.com, independently at YourWebWriter.com, and as a columnist for the Folk Harp Journal, but that wasn’t what I did full-time, just before turning to harp performance as a career.

  5. Were you in education? Perhaps as a teacher, professor etc?
    I’m glad you followed your dream and passion. Life is too short to not be doing what is your calling.

    • Hi Nanci! Life is definitely too short not to follow your passion. You are sooooooo close–I was a teacher. If you can name specifically what I taught, then the free CD or album download is yours (hint–A famous rock musician had the same full-time career before turning to a music career).

    • That’s correct, Kaisa, I was a maths teacher (or a “math” teacher, as we say in the U.S.). Just like Art Garfunkel! You win one of my harp CDs or album downloads of your choice. Congratulations!!! I’ll be emailing you directly to get it to you….Or click the “email Anne” link in the upper right of this page.

Comments are closed.