Have you ever looked back and noticed the threads of your life that brought you to where you are?

Back as a freshman in Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, I participated in a research study because of a vow I made when I was 11-years-old.

When I was around 11, a research study came up at the hospital where my dad worked that would pay $80 for participation. Anyone in the community at least 12-years-old could take part, so he registered my sister. She was old enough, but I was too young. I was so sad to miss out. My dad tried to console me with the fact that participants had to sit in a chair and be spun in a circle over and over, as they tested eye-movements and reaction times.

But it sounded fun to me! And when my sister bought her $80 stereo, I vowed — with every ounce of pre-teen drama I could muster — to participate in a research study. Any research study. As soon as I could.

So, when I saw fliers at UT Austin for a research study specifically testing the aptitudes of incoming freshman engineering students that childhood memory was sparked, and I didn’t hesitate to sign up. The study was being conducted on-campus by the Johnson O’Connor research foundation, and I dutifully showed up (without pay!) for several different sessions over a number of days for pen and paper tests.

It was fun, but I wasn’t allowed to get any results at the time. I could get my results after 9 years, once the study was complete.

Looking back, I still can’t believe I spent that number of hours during a busy freshman year participating in a study, without pay, and without any immediate results!

Do you know how much happens in life in 9 years?

I’d graduated with a civil engineering degree, gotten married, started my career, had twin daughters, moved cities twice…

Six-months out of college, I remember sitting in the office with my coworker and asking, “Is this all there is to this career?” Maybe there was another degree I could go back and get…but what?

Some parts of my engineering career seemed to fit, and role changes and promotions would give me an interesting learning curve for a time, but something was missing — something that kept me bored and restless that I couldn’t explain to anyone.

Writing became my favorite hobby. I was staying up into the wee hours at night to write, to blog, and to participate in critique groups online. My thoughts at work were about the story I might write that night.

Nine years later, my natural ability results from Johnson O’Connor came as a welcome affirmation. My strong inductive reasoning was a mis-match for the analytical world of engineering. I also had strong Idea Production. The continuous flow of ideas caused boredom in my rigorous, structured engineering role.

One important factor about natural talents is that they push to be used. You can try to satisfy these driving factors outside of your day job (like with a writing hobby), but then your hobby may become your passion… and you’re still dissatisfied at your job!

I felt so burned out, and yet so stuck. With my education behind me, my years of experience (and healthy raises), and a family to support through ups and downs… I didn’t know how to make a change.

Fast-forward 10 more years, and I decided to get an MBA. I wanted the degree to at least expand my career options within engineering companies, but even more than that, I hoped to find insight into a new, purposeful career path.

Summer of 2019, I graduated with my MBA after a 5-year journey, with a new-found love of personnel training and development. My own search for motivation and career satisfaction made me want to help others feel empowered. But how do I start over in this new field?

Also in 2019, my daughters were close to graduating high school. I wanted them to find the right fit for their careers without any missing pieces.

Tami Peterson, a Highlands Certified Consultant from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, came to our high school in East Texas and administered the Highlands Ability Battery and gave my daughters personalized debriefs.

A new spark lit inside me. I had seen this testing before… It turns out, The Highlands Company had purchased the rights to the Johnson O’Connor research!

I could see the threads of my life weaving together… starting with a childhood vow.

I became a Highlands Certified Consultant because of my belief that our natural abilities provide the ideal framework for finding career purpose and direction.

With Highlands as a strong foundation, coupled with 19 years of experience in the corporate world, I decided to branch out of engineering and start my own company to provide Career Consulting to students, adults, and employees.

If you are still looking for that missing piece, waiting to see how the threads of your life might weave together, please contact me.

Discover what you do best. Find the right fit. Love what you do.

~Sarah W.


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