In November of 2001 I entered the Air Force’s Officer Training School (OTS). I spent the previous fifteen months working as an Administrative Assistant at The Seattle Times newspaper, but became frustrated with the lack of career prospects at that company. Rather than seek a more traditional position at another company I applied for OTS and was accepted. On the first day of OTS we were told to fill out a career field request form. I kid you not: We were all confused, tired, sitting on the first two-thirds of our auditorium seats (we weren’t allowed to lean back in our seats during the first week of training), and they passed us a piece of paper with three lines on it; we were supposed to put our first three career field choices on those lines.
“No guarantees,” they said, “But we’ll do our best to match your preferences with the existing Air Force needs.”
“Well,” I said to myself, “Let me see…I have a business administration degree…so I guess I’m supposed to do something related to that…I’ll put down: 1. Financial Management; 2. Cost Analysis; 3. Program Management.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I got into the Financial Analysis career field.
I imagine that when the Air Force Personnel Center received my form someone rang a bell and yelled out, “Yeah! I just got a volunteer for Finance!” Seriously, who joins the military to work in Finance?
Fast-forward ten years: I am currently employed as a Finance Analyst, a field I’ve worked in for over seven years. Despite the fact that many of my peers have been promoted to Senior Analyst positions, I remain just an Analyst. I blame this partly on my pornography addiction which stole time and energy away from my career. I also blame my lack of success on my Myers-Briggs personality type (ENFJ). If you click here you’ll note that nowhere in my recommended career fields does anything related to Finance or Accounting appear.
However, as valid as those reasons might be I must also admit that regardless of my past, and regardless of the career field I should be in based on my personality type, for now I am a Finance Analyst. So to fulfill today’s fear challenge I asked my supervisor to come up with a list of things I can do to become a better Analyst.
Ok, so it’s not like I’m going bungee jumping, but this move does confront two of my fears at once. First, I have to admit to another man (who is not a relative or close friend) that I’m not as good at my job as I should be or want to be. I don’t know if women will see this the same way, but I suspect a lot of men know what I’m getting at here. It is tough for me to admit to another man my age that I need his help to get better at what I do.
The second fear this move confronted is my fear of commitment…to the Finance career field. I’ve probably been a mediocre Analyst throughout my career because of my various excuses and ‘loser’s limps’, but I’ve been able to excuse my performance in my own mind with those same excuses. To genuinely desire to improve at a job I tell myself (and anyone else who’ll listen) isn’t for me is a big step. I will be actively growing in a career I’m not ‘supposed’ to want to be in. But maybe, just maybe, I will come to find that I can enjoy Finance if I get over my fear of being an Analyst, and start trying to be the best Analyst I can be.