“Life is like a giant puzzle. Everyday we struggle to find it’s pieces to make it into a complete picture.” – Unknown
I sit here today still in limbo on my next career move. I spent the last 22 years in government work, as a police officer. I am proud of my accomplishments, but I knew it was time to move on from the profession. I went back to school and earned a bachelor degree in Business Administration and a master degree in Organizational Leadership, knowing I would be moving on one day. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I chose degrees that would be universal. I abruptly retired without any contingency plan other than my education and law enforcement experience. In hindsight, that was not a very smart move. On the other hand, it was clearly the right move for my mental and physical health. The profession is too dynamic and too dangerous for someone whose heart just wasn’t in it anymore.
I was only getting 3-5 hours sleep during the day while working the midnight shift. I developed a severe sleep disorder. During that time, I was going to school online to complete my degrees. I could have gone to day shift but the midnight schedule worked out better for school. It took me five years to complete my degrees while only getting 3-5 hours of sleep. I don’t know how I managed to obtain 3.93 and 4.0 GPAs respectively. I look back on some of my papers, and I don’t remember writing them. I was so exhausted but determined to be successful at the same time. I guess I was “successful” regarding my education. I just don’t feel like a success at this point in my life. Maybe I should highlight my career before I start allowing my negative thoughts to take control.
I proudly served in law enforcement for 22 years. I wore the badge ethically and with a high level of integrity. I was a good supervisor and mentor. I genuinely believe I left a positive impact on the people I worked for, the public I served, and the officers I mentored. I accomplished everything I wanted to achieve in law enforcement. There simply wasn’t anything left for me to accomplish. I was just biding my time to retire. I didn’t want to go out the way it happened, but I wholeheartedly believe everything happens for a reason. I hold no hard feelings or grudges…just not my nature. I genuinely care about the organization, the profession, the people, and their triumph over evil. So, when I put things into perspective, I had a successful law enforcement career.
So what is my next move…that is the question. I honestly don’t know what to do. I now understand why so many military and law enforcement officers have a difficult time transitioning to the private sector. Our skillset doesn’t easily transfer into many private sector careers. Yeah, I have my education to fall back on, but that only goes so far. Experience is the key. I just don’t know what it is I want to do to get the experience. I don’t want to jump from job to job; I’m just too loyal and will overstay my welcome (see police career :-). I’m looking for a career, something I will enjoy for years. Do what you are passionate about is sensible advice; however, passion does not always translate into a paying career.
I’ve had a lot of time to do some soul-searching. I’ve been trying to figure out my passions. I’ve been trying to figure out my strengths and weaknesses. This is what I have learned thus far. One of the biggest things I learned was about my personality type. I’m an INFJ personality type based on the Myers-Briggs personality profile. INFJs are the rarest of the personality types; they make up about 1-2% of the world’s population. I’ve always felt like I was different from the majority; this clearly explains why I felt that way. The INFJ personality profile fits me perfectly. Too perfect. It was like the author was writing the profile specifically for me. I was floored by the accuracy. It also explained my personal struggles with depression.
Understanding my personality profile was a significant breakthrough for me. For those who are also in a similar position in life or just want to understand their personality better, please take a hard look at your personality profile (16 Personalities.com). It may not be as exact for you as it was for me, but it will give you a better understanding of the “why” in your life. For me, the INFJ profile answered many of those “why” questions. Why do I react the way a do when my integrity is attacked? Why do I struggle with friendships and relationships? Why do I have such strong intuition? Why do I have such a strong desire to help others? Many of these “why” questions were answered by just understanding my personality better. I want to build off those lessons learned. I want to learn more about me so I can figure out what I’m meant to do.
What are my strengths? I believe I have excellent verbal and written communication skills. Naturally, I enjoy writing. It is my outlet. This was an innate quality I have always possessed but didn’t quite understand until I read my personality profile. Word of caution though for other INFJ personalities, e-mails written by a tired, pissed off INFJ should be avoided at all cost. Just saying. Those who know my story will understand that last sentence. I am an honest, ethical, loyal person with a sincere desire to help others. I believe that is why I was initially drawn to law enforcement. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Training and Development Officer and supervisor. Those were the only times in my career where I felt like I was making a positive difference in the organization.
What is the point of all this? Hopefully, I can help others struggling with a similar situation. I’m also open to any life or career advice. Maybe someone has the perfect suggestion that leads me to that aha moment where everything becomes crystal clear. I’m scared and excited at the same time. I’m at peace with everything. In fact, I haven’t been this much “at peace” in a long, long time. I have learned much through this ordeal. Many invaluable life lessons that only adversity can teach. Life is a big puzzle. Piece by piece the picture becomes more and more apparent. I’m missing a few pieces of the puzzle. I’m optimistic I will find them soon. Maybe someone reading this possess the missing pieces to my puzzle.