Are You Sure Higher Ed Is Really Where You Are Supposed To Be?


Feeling Down?

Is it time to move on or are you just having a bad day? Would you be happier if you worked elsewhere?

You can’t really discuss this with your coworkers for fear of being judged as ungrateful or disloyal. There may be a few people you trust but their perspectives are shaped by their own beliefs about job security and risk-taking, not your unique situation.

In other words, if you speak with someone who is risk-averse, the person will talk you into staying put. If you speak with a dreamer, he or she will tell you to make a bold move, so that they can experience vicariously what they won’t do in their own lives.

Your significant other will want what is best for you but will give advice from their perspective, considering their own needs. Money concerns will call for a prudent approach. On the other hand, a spouse who feels neglected because you work too many hours may encourage you to quit.

People in your life are not well equipped to help you get clear on what you really want. There is too much at stake and they can’t be objective. So what do you do? You engage in inquiry with a coach to find your truth and a strong sense of direction.

Let me share with you the two situations I see most often.

1.     Crisis and Confusion

The grass always looks greener on the other side, right? Some administrators start thinking about leaving higher ed. because of these crises.

a) They have been treated unfairly by several people on more than one campus and think the problem comes from the culture in higher ed. Usually it is not the industry but something in their behavior that makes them easy targets, or triggers others to treat them poorly. Changing industry won’t make a difference. Changing personal patterns is the solution.

b) They go to interviews but don’t get job offers. They start to think they would have a better chance to be appreciated elsewhere. While it is possible, more often than not, administrators are more competitive in their field, where they have expertise, than when they try to transition into something brand new. Transitioning may require starting closer to the bottom than the top of the organizational chart. It is not an easier path. Typically, the solution is to trouble-shoot what they are doing wrong in their job search and making correction to bring success.  

c) They work too much and are burnt out. The beliefs that keep them overworked and overwhelmed stop them from improving their work-life balance and taking well-needed vacations. They think the only escape is to leave their jobs but what they really need is to open their minds to new ways of doing things. The solution is to re-evaluate old beliefs, learn how to optimize their time allocation, and establish healthy boundaries to get their lives back.

2. Lack of Purpose and Passion

Sometimes, the idea of leaving higher ed. isn’t to run away from something painful but to run toward something more fulfilling. The person has a nagging feeling that life has more to offer and that there is something different for them to experience. Often, they are not really sure what it is, because the fear of change stops them from considering new options.

Rational thoughts about job security, income, pension plans, benefits, comfort, and predictability keep popping up. The person feels guilty for contemplating their heart’s desires when they have responsibilities and family members to care for. Boredom, frustration, and even depression may be on the horizon. Waiting for retirement to finally start living is not a good enough plan.

If this scenario describes how you feel, I implore you to give yourself permission to want more for yourself. You will have more to give to your loved ones and to the world when you feel passionate and fulfilled than you do now. Change isn’t reckless. However, feeling uninspired is reckless.

Understand that making a new choice doesn’t invalidate your past choices. Starting something new doesn’t mean that your career up to this point was a mistake. It wasn’t a mistake; it was a chapter in your life. If you dream of starting a new chapter, start looking at examples of people who did it successfully. It will give you hope and inspiration.

Do you feel drawn to something that could be turned into a career or a business? Your heart probably knows now what your brain has a hard time realizing.

If you would like to speak with me about your situation and how I can help you, click here to schedule a complimentary consultationI have coached administrators in all scenarios described in this article and can’t wait to show you what is possible for you.

If you can relate to both situation #1 (crisis and confusion) and #2 (lack of purpose and passion) it is a sure sign that something needs to change immediately. Don’t procrastinate because nothing in your career is more important than knowing you are where you are supposed to be, and enjoy doing meaningful work.

About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits.  Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset. For more information and free resources visit

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