In the spirit of New Year's resolutions, here goes.
Some of you have been kind enough over the years to share your trials and sorrows as well as your joys. I've read about starting school to follow one's dreams; job losses and triumphs; personal trials; and more. I'm deeply touched and impressed that you all chose to share on an open forum (or on the Internet at all). You've comforted me with the loss of a pet, as well. Now I'm about to ask virtual strangers for advice on a non-garden subject, and I feel like an uncertain kid again. Here's some backstory, with question(s) to follow.
Never went to college. Graduated high school all right, but not at the top of my class (although according to the teachers the "potential" was there). Blew a state scholarship because I didn't want to "waste" the money and time going to college if I didn't know what my major was. Went to work right out of high school and did a variety of jobs before landing one that let to a fairly good position in about 10 years. Three years later they closed my office and moved all ops to Home Office about 90 minutes away; I was one class shy of an associate's degree in my field. Temp jobs led to another offer, only to have that one taken away for "budget cuts" after 3 months. Temp jobs again and thence to the place I've worked at for 12 years (minus 14 months for back surgery). Part of the reason for leaving prior to surgery had to do with certain personnel. Whilst recovering one of the "problems" left and I was offered that job, part time, for however long I could sit up per day. I took it and gradually worked up stamina to nearly full time. I should add that this place was owned by family friends (the owner worked with my mother at a different place before buying this company; now his children and I work together--kind of like working with siblings). So, I've worked at a family-owned business, but never a part of the family. They were exceedingly kind in helping me get my "work legs" back. Here's the "but". However, for the past year I've been on an "on-call" basis with highly irregular hours, and no advance warning of when or not I'll be working. The call comes in the morning for that day, so setting dr. appointments, etc., is difficult. I hate the commute, the job is dead-end, and any creative suggestions for workflow have been basically ignored over the years (yes, I did offer them with courtesy and respect). The business I'm in is rough enough without having to deal with no support from the boss; and now the other half of the problem has been re-hired. I've been given a new job with at least some stimulus but no increase in pay, and no permanent desk at which to work. Basically, folks, I've had enough. Stupid fear and economy in the dumps keeps me there. The loyalty factor that once was there has dissipated. I'd like to get paid for doing what I love, for a change. I'm good at what I do, but I'd like to translate that into a different profession. High school aptitude tests were no help--I had (and still have) too many interests to narrow down. I enjoy training working with animals but don't have the "thrassos" to be a vet or tech. I'm really good at catastrophic thinking, so risk management is not out of the question. Math skills are weak, and I'd rather be out in the field than answering the phone. Doing research (for anything other than a term paper) is fun but I tend to get bogged down in details. I enjoy editing, but who publishes in print these days. Is there such a thing as an online editor? Self-employment would be iffy--I'm not a salesman. I don't mind writing but am lousy with deadlines. I've read a lot but know I need/want formal education to switch careers. I care deeply about the environment, opinionated, not afraid to speak my mind (not always a good thing, mind you), and I want to be useful, part of a team, to know that I've/we've accomplished something; made a difference. OK, my heart has been poured out as much as I can, at this point. I apologize for the rambling. Mid-life (or later) crisis? Probably. Dissatisfaction? Oh, definitely.
Experience has taught me that wisdom can come from unlikely sources (like even spouses...); which is why I'm writing. Those of you who work at jobs that you more than tolerate (yea, even enjoy), what advice would you give to someone like me? Those of you who have taken the plunge (voluntary or otherwise), what was your tipping point, your "aha" moment?
Excluding general courses like English/Math/etc., if I'm interested in something like environmental risk management or some such, what should I be looking at? I can see where biology, geology, meterology, and a host of others all fit together like pieces of a puzzle, different facets of the same gem we call earth. There are probably other, more specialized sciences, that I can't think of offhand. Better to go with a general 'ology, or something more specific? All are fascinating, but I should live so long as to get a degree in each. I'm better with practical knowledge than theory.
Here's what I've come up with so far: on one of my days off, call and set an appointment with a counselor at the local community college to talk over some of this, and see how much weight my h.s. transcript still carries. I have access to, but cannot afford stellar colleges like U of M/MSU/Lawrence Tech/Michigan Tech. So local community college will have to be my starting point until I can find a job with education as one of the benefits. I realize this is a convoluted, lengthy post and if you've made it this far, I salute you. Now I ask for your wisdom, culled from your own experiences; or even an "if I had a do-over, I would...". Thank you for taking the time to read this and respond.