Don’t let your kids find one of these?

How do you think they will feel?

Will their image of you be shattered?

I beg you not to…

Over the last few weeks, I have been cleaning out my mom’s house after her passing. It’s a strange experience of dismantling and discovering a life and career of a loved one. We all know the person on the outside. But many times we don’t recognize or get a chance to see what is it happening on the inside.

As I went through all of her belongings in different rooms, I happened to come upon her resume. Nothing was earth-shattering to me, as I knew the jobs she had. The surprise came when I picked up her resume to find another paper below. At first, I couldn’t believe what I was reading and I read it again. I was in shock and a bit confused on what was in this letter.

I took the letter and the resume and I put them in my car so that I could review them when I got home. I knew, my mom had a good life although she struggled a bit in her career with working two jobs, and not being able to retire until she was 72. I had always encouraged and hoped that she might apply for just one job that would give her more freedom and pay. She made her own choices and lived well with them.

When I got home, I emptied the car and put the resume and letter in my office. Later, I picked up a letter and read it for the third time. It was addressed to the Superintendent of the school system where she worked as a school nurse. It was dated some 32 years before she passed away.  She had crossed out the date once and changed it for two months later, but never signed it. I think she got cold feet.

I read the words, “Dear Superintendent… I have enjoyed working for the school for the past five years and feel I have grown both professionally and personally. I regret that the relationship with the school must come to an end, but it is a financial necessity. I hereby tender my resignation to be effective…I would appreciate being released at the earliest possible time.” She went on to put the closing sincerely and typed her name but never signed it. Sitting here with a letter 32 years later, I wonder what was going through her mind and how she was trying to decide whether to leave a job that she loved.

While she lived a good life, I wonder what might have been if she had taken that risk to leave the system and to apply for a different job. She worked two jobs for her last 20 years before retirement, averaging close to 72 hours a week. I wonder if she only had one job for 40 hours what else she might’ve been able to accomplish and do within her life that was so full yet it was restricted by her working hours.

My goal in sharing this story with you is to keep you from the fear of making a change in your own career or life. We all have our own paths to go on and our own choices to make, but we shouldn’t live in fear of failure or making a change. Make sure you ask the hard questions to reflect on where you are right now. Are you happy in your current life? Are you satisfied with how you’re living and who you are in this world? Are you excited to get up every morning and live your life? Does your career motivate you to get up on Monday mornings?

These are just a few questions you need to look at, reflect on, and journal about to see where you are and where you want to be.  My mom lived a great life though she struggled a bit, but I always wonder how it might have changed if she had just taken the risk and stepped out of her comfort zone. We will never know for my mom. My hope is that when you pass, someone in your family doesn’t read a letter that might have changed the direction and opportunities in your life and career.  

Start today with one small step!


  • Mark Danaher

    Career, Life and Leadership Coach, Virtual Speaker and Trainer

    Careers by Design LLC

    Mark Danaher is a career/life/leadership coach and certified career counselor who helps leaders elevate their careers and life to one they will love.  He helps his clients make the best of tough situations so they can be their best professionally and personally.   Mark uses coaching along with his extensive career development knowledge and expertise to offer his clients a uniquely holistic approach to making career and life pivots.  He helps his clients manage burnout, stress, and anxiety, integrate balance into their lives so they can make a meaningful change in their lives. He uses a holistic narrative career approach to help people tell their stories and learn from their careers and life.  Mark completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut in Economics and History and went on to earn his Masters at the University of Connecticut in Counseling Psychology.   Mark was the President of the National Career Development Association in 2014-2015 and continues to volunteer for the organization.   He is certified as a Certified Professional Coach, Certified Career Counselor, Holistic Narrative Career Professional, Retirement Options Coach, 2 Young to Retire Coach, Job, and Career Development Coach, Job and Career Transition Coach, and a Certified Career Service Provider.  Mark is a Master Trainer for the Facilitating Career Development Certificate and School Career Development Advisor certificate is actively coaching training, and teaching throughout the year.  He is now a Master Practioner of the Energy Leadership Index which is a great assessment to understand how you use your energy in your everyday life and under stress.  It gives you a great insight into how you can improve your everyday interactions and connections with colleagues, employees, family, and beyond.