"This Time I Dance": A Guide To Career Change
May 26, 2003, 7:35 AM
Written By: Executive Producer Jack Maher
If you're successful doing work you don't love, what could you do with work you do love? It's a question Tama Kieves likes to ask people who are contemplating a career change...
We spoke with Kieves on 9News Daybreak about her new book "This Time I Dance." The book is a motivational tool for people looking to find their true path in life.
In the mid-1980s, Kieves was a young attorney who had graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. After passing the bar exam she jumped on the fast track and joined one of Denver's largest law firms. She was soon pulling down a six-figure income, driving the right car, wearing the right clothes, and doing all the things that fit the mold into which she had stuffed herself.
But a discontent tugged at her, leading to such unhappiness that she briefly considered suicide. She had always been drawn to writing and a more creative life, but, like many people, she allowed herself to be talked out of that life and into a more "secure" one. Then one day, sitting on a beach, she had her epiphany and, despite the fear, never looked back.
In a time when many people say they are unhappy with their jobs, Kieves hopes to offer something valuable to anyone wanting to follow their dreams.
Q: Why did you go into law in the first place?
A: Basically, my family influenced me. Like many young writers or creative people, I was told, "What are you going to do with that? You can't make a living with that. So someone had suggested, you can write, go to law school. I'd gotten into Harvard Law School, and you don't say no to that. It never occurred to me that I could follow my own dream or my own desire. It was more the tried and true path. I grew up in a New York Jewish family, and it was "Be an accountant or a lawyer, or marry one!" Or both. Many creative people face that kind of stuff. You're just shepherded into some practical career. In my family, if you said you wanted to be a poet or a writer or an artist, it was like you wanted to take heroin or something. That was really not an okay path.
Q: Do you think this process happens to most people, where their families try to guide them in ways they believe are safe?
A: Sure. I think our families do it, schools do it. The culture does it. They try to gear you to what they think is safe, to what is known security, or what they think is known security.
Q: Tell me about the moment you decided to leave your law practice. You were on the beach, eating your cinnamon raisin bagel. What happened?
A: That's a true story. I was really sitting on a beach. I was crazy in my law practice that week, just frustrated and trapped, and someone said, just get the heck away, go somewhere. So I went to California by myself. I remember sitting on this beach, watching the waves crash, and I was journaling. I was finally relaxing and connecting a little bit, and I just had that intuitive knowing inside. First, I realized that this was the first moment I'd felt free, like me again, in an entire year. It was the revelation that, God, this beach is free and maybe I don't have to make a gazillion dollars and have some big-time job to lead the life I want. And I also remember that I knew I could pretend I didn't know, and that I'd be here again in 20 years. It was just one of those intuitive knowings. You know you have to go. And that was terrifying. It wasn't a peaceful, happy moment.
Kieves believes there's actually more security in doing the work you love than clinging to a secure but meaningless job that simply covers the bills. She says doing so gives you a competitive edge to follow what is uniquely yours.
"This Time I Dance" is published by Penguin Putnam and available at most bookstores.