Navigating Career Crossroads

**Disclaimer: This title is a bit misleading. If you opted to read this article because you’re hoping I’ll share some helpful tips about how to successfully navigate a career crossroads, well, you’re going to be disappointed. A better title might have been ‘Lost at Sea After Leaving My Job’ or something clever along those lines.

I envy people who always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. One of my best friends, Alicia, knew in high school that she wanted to be a lawyer. And she is. At 41, I’m still not sure what I want to do for a living. Do most people have their careers figured out by this age?

I graduated from LSU in December 2013, and in the summer of 2014 I began working as a contractor at an ExxonMobil plant. In 2018, I hired on directly with Exxon, and I assumed I would work there until I retired. That did not happen. I left Exxon in 2021, and this is where the story begins.

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.

Steve Jobs

Will and I started an IT company in 2016, and until this point, Will managed it on his own. I’m not a techie, and he seemed to be doing fine running the company alone (more on that later), so I began trying to figure out what my next career move would be. Should I rejoin the workforce as an employee, start freelancing, or start my own business?


The idea of freelancing is liberating. You get to choose the jobs you take on, and work as much or as little as you like. But there’s an issue; I’m not an expert in any particular subject. I know a little bit about a lot of different things, but I’m not an expert in any one area. Yes, I have a business degree and plenty of real-world work experience. But what marketable skills do I have?

I spent a considerable amount of time looking through Fiverr and similar sites, reviewing different categories and listings. I do enjoy working with data, so data entry seemed like a good fit. However, there were so many listings from people willing to do this type of work – how could I stand out? And is the low pay even worth it?

Next I considered voice over work; this could be an exciting career change. I enjoy reading, so why not get paid to read out loud? All I would need is a quiet space and a good microphone for recording. However, I have a very distinct southern accent and a monotone voice, so I doubt people would be lining up for me to do this kind of work. I talked myself out of it before even giving it a try.

Other than those two prospects, I couldn’t find any freelance jobs that I felt capable of doing. I can’t whip together a functional website in 4 hours; I don’t do graphic design; my SEO skills are seriously lacking (I’m working on that). Thus, my freelancing dream ended before it ever really began.

Starting a Business

I could go on all day about the ideas I’ve had for starting my own business, from flipping houses to opening a food truck. I’ll spare you the boredom of reading about every venture I considered. Instead, I’ll mention a few that I deliberated on more intently. 

I’m sure most of you have seen videos on Instagram or TikTok, where someone talks about how easy it is to start a side hustle by opening an Etsy shop. Specifically, many of these videos discuss selling digital products. There’s a huge market for digital products right now; anything from meal planning templates to birthday party invitations. The items only take a few minutes to create, and you can easily start raking in thousands of dollars in a month or so. The key is to identify and target a niche, or better yet, a micro niche. But if we’re all trying to identify and target a niche audience, does the niche even exist? And have you seen how many digital products there are for sale in any given category? It’s insane. I did spend some time playing around in Canva, designing various products, but I eventually passed on this venture.

Then I considered professional blogging. Bloggers who actually make enough to support themselves accomplish this by earning money from some combination of the following: affiliate marketing, display ads, brand sponsorships, memberships/subscriptions, or selling a program/class. As stated earlier, I am not an expert in any subject, so what program or class could I create and sell? And the information out there on how to make money from affiliate marketing is overwhelming. And thus died my short-lived dream of professional blogging.

Traditional Employment

During this same period of time, while researching freelance jobs and business ventures, I was also on the lookout for a traditional employment role. I subscribed to FlexJobs, created an indeed account, and got back on LinkedIn. I routinely searched the new job postings, and applied to several, but nothing ever came of it. It seemed like all I ever heard on the news were stories about the severe employee shortage. Yet there I was, applying for jobs I was qualified for (not over- or under-qualified for, but actually qualified for), and not hearing back. Yes, my resume was on point. My cover letters were well written. I made sure to tailor my resume to the job, use keywords from the job posting – all the things you’re supposed to do to ‘stand out.’ Nothing. I got nothing.

What do you do when nothing else pans out?

Generally speaking, I don’t know. I guess you just keep applying until you get a callback. Or you move forward with your Etsy shop. Or you get a loan and buy the food truck. Myself? I ended up going to work with Will, helping to run our business, LanTech IT. Turns out he needed help (a lot of help) in some areas of the business, such as bookkeeping. So now, he does all of the tech work while I do the bookkeeping and anything else not tech related. I enjoy my job well enough, but I do struggle in some areas, such as marketing.

In college, I studied Management with concentration in Entrepreneurship. Therefore, Will thinks I am more than qualified to run our business. Yet, there’s something a Professor once said that really stuck with me – “Do what you know.” If you want to run a successful business, you really need to understand what you do. As I’ve said before, I’m tech-illiterate. Networks, servers, routers, VPNs – all that stuff is a mystery to me. The tech stuff just doesn’t ‘click’ in my brain. While I do enjoy keeping the books, and I get really excited when I find an excuse to create a pivot table in Excel, is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? In reality, we could find someone else to manage the office; I’m not critical to the operation or success of the business.

As you can gather, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to navigate my own career crossroads. I’ve considered a lot of different career options. This post only brushed the surface; there are hundreds of other ventures I mulled over. I feel like I should have it figured out by now. Until that day comes, I will keep doing what I’m currently doing. Admittedly, I enjoy working and spending time with my husband. 

That's it?

Well. There is one thing I would love to do for a living. I just haven’t worked up the nerve to pursue it. As you may have gathered, I tend to talk myself out of doing things before I even try. My lack of confidence in my talents/abilities is a whole other story.

What is it? We’ll get into that in my next post, The Paralysis of Self-Doubt

So, what was the point of this post? I suppose I wanted people who are struggling to navigate a career crossroads to know they’re not alone. Some people know what they want to do, and they just do it. Others, like me, still haven’t figured it out. I hope that one day I can write a motivational post about how I finally found my career path after the age of 40.

Or, maybe there is no point in this post, and I’m just rambling.