update: how do I reconcile my heart and my brain when making big career decisions?

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who’d had a late-term pregnancy loss, had lost interest in her job, and fantasized about quitting her job and moving to Spain for a few months? Here’s the update.

Interestingly, just a couple of days after you published my letter, we found out I was pregnant with our rainbow baby! So that has changed our plans a bit – although baby (and your and the commenters’ advice) has also helped me see a lot more clearly just how desperately unhappy I was at my job and how it really wasn’t meeting my career goals or needs anymore.

Due to the timing of baby’s birth and our life priorities, my husband and I decided to move back to the city (2 states away) where his company is based at the beginning of 2020 and buy a home. This necessitates me leaving my firm at the beginning of my third trimester. Our finances luckily allow me to stay home for an indefinite period of time, and my husband’s company (in tech) provides very generous paternity leave. So we have a very tentative idea that we may still travel to Spain for a few months toward the second half of the baby’s first year so that I can focus on taking Spanish classes. There is a need in a our new city for Spanish-speaking attorneys, so I am enthusiastic about my job prospects after I return to work, if we’re able to make this plan a reality.

I was so grateful for your clear-cut and assured advice that taking a few-month break – especially while pursuing something else that will ultimately help my career – is really no big deal. I think I just really needed to hear that it was okay to leave my job.

I often turn to my dad for career advice but as a boomer and former business owner he often has a very black-and-white, conservative approach to jobs and careers which doesn’t always reflect millennial priorities (like work-life balance, go figure) or current business practice. So I was grateful to hear from you and others who may have a more realistic (and current) view of this landscape. I also appreciated hearing from the commenters who had experienced pregnancy loss, as it’s a unique kind of loss that has a profound – but very often under-appreciated – and lasting impact. Thank you all for sharing, and I’m so sorry for your losses.

As it turns out, because I am highly valued at my workplace and am leaving a large hole in my practice area, my boss suggested I work from home after the move as a contractor for as long as I want – before and after baby is born. So although I have no intention of ever returning to my firm, that allows me to avoid a gap on my resume until I transition into a new job, which eases my mind a bit. I have no idea whether I’ll continue after baby is born (I’m leaning toward not) but it’s nice to have that back-up security, and also nice to see the reflection of my hard work and contribution to the firm prior to the pregnancy loss and the impact it had on my productivity.

Ultimately, your advice helped me navigate the paralysis I was feeling about leaving a “good enough” job that I’d outgrown to pursue something that will hopefully be a better fit for my future.

{ 24 comments… read them below }

    1. Trying a New Name*

      Yes congratulations!!!! So happy things have turned out well! Here’s to wishing you a healthy pregnancy and baby!

  1. your favorite person*

    Wow! What an amazing update. Congrats OP. I hope everything is smooth sailing and uneventful for you and yours. Good luck!

  2. Not So NewReader*

    Love this, OP.
    Going back to a quote: An old man in a nursing home was asked what he regretted about his life. He said he would have taking bigger (yet well-calculated) chances. He played it too safe and he had regrets about that. He said he took things too seriously and he shouldn’t have.
    Who’d thunk? We often think of regret in terms of what we did WRONG. But we don’t think too much about any regret in not trying just a little bit harder.
    You have a good plan here. I wish you and yours the best.

    1. AGD*

      Agreed. If I’m remembering my undergrad social psychology class accurately, most people end up regretting things they didn’t do more than things they did do.

      1. Mid*

        But that’s also because we can’t predict how our “what-ifs” will turn out. You can’t fail what you haven’t tried, so the things we didn’t do are never failures, if that makes any sense.

        1. Jaydee*

          But I think it also speaks to our resiliency. There are probably a lot of things we tried and failed at that we don’t necessarily look back on with regret. We may have moped for a while, but then got up, dusted ourselves off, and tried again or moved on to the next thing.

          I mean, my anxiety is *really* good at predicting terrible outcomes for a lot of my what-ifs, so in my brain I’ve failed at a lot of things I’ve never actually done. But in real life, even actual failures that were, at the time, super stressful have faded over time as I’ve moved on from them.

    2. Fikly*

      I was listening to an interview with someone very involved with hospice, and she said the number one thing people regretted at the end of their lives was the things they didn’t do.

  3. StellaBella*

    OP, this is a great update and I wish you and your family much happiness in 2020. And thank you for seeing the value in being a bi-lingual legal professional, you will indeed have a lot to look forward to when you decide to return to work after learning Spanish. Best wishes and continued good luck to you!

  4. Fikly*

    I don’t know the population in your city, but be aware that there is a substantial difference between Spanish from Spain and the Spanish that the population from Latin America speaks.

    I hope everything continues to go well with your pregnancy!

    1. Maria Lopez*

      Yes, and if the baby is already born there is not a risk from the Zika virus. I checked the CDC maps and there aren’t any areas of active Zika outbreaks at the moment, so Costa Rica and Mexico are good countries for learning “generic” Latin American Spanish.

      1. Maria Lopez*

        And Guadalajara, Mexico is elevated enough that there isn’t a mosquito risk. Beautiful city and looks like you’re in Spain.

    2. Reality.Bites*

      Indeed – imagine sending someone to Manchester, England in order to learn English for work in Texas.

  5. SebbyGrrl*

    Can’t comment on all of them but LOVING Update Season and seeing all the support an positivity.

    Congrats LW enjoy Spain, enjoy baby, enjoy what you have created.

  6. Maria Lopez*

    Interesting comment on your father, but I think the fact that he is a business owner and a Boomer have little to do with being conservative. Someone who has started his own business is not exactly risk-averse, and the Boomer generation was anything but conservative. The two generations previously, maybe, but Boomers were the first generation in the twentieth century to “turn on, tune in, drop out” from the rat race (that phrase itself coined by Timothy Leary, born in 1920, so go figure).

  7. remizidae*

    Hope you keep with the teleworking and then get back into the traditional workforce as soon as possible! Remember, the child will only be young for a few years, but your career, your self-esteem and hopefully your marriage are forever. Don’t compromise those because society makes you feel bad about daycare.

  8. Jana*

    Wonderful update, not to dampen the great news, but a few months of language learning is probably not enough to do legal work in Spanish, still great to be able to communicate more even if a translator is still necessary though

Comments are closed.