Redefining Your Career at Any Stage
Cathy Connors ’95
Meet Cathy on IrishCompass
Growing up my mother was influential in my life’s direction. “Be a bookkeeper,” she said when I was in high school. She saw that career path as a way for me to have my own money when I graduated, got married, and had children.
You see, my family was not wealthy. As kids, my parents were able to provide for us. We didn’t have a lot of “stuff.” As I look back, I had a happy childhood, filled with memories of summer family trips around the Midwest. It was also a time when women seldom climbed the corporate ladder.
Being the overachiever that I am, I set off to get a bachelor’s degree and major in accounting, working my way through college. While I was the third child in my family, I was ultimately the first to graduate college, obtaining a degree in business and majoring in accounting, administration, and marketing.
Always wanting to make my parents proud of my achievements, I went on to become a CPA, and then earned a master’s in nonprofit administration.
Defining success in my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s meant “climbing the corporate ladder” to me, so my career took the path of working for a public accounting firm. But you see, the one thing people don’t tell you is that, even with a degree, a job is not guaranteed.
Over the course of my 20’s, 30’s, and just into my 40’s, I worked for an insurance company, two public accounting firms, a private healthcare system, and an academic research institution. Out of those four jobs, I was laid off three times — not because of my performance, but because the economy took a turn for the worse. I learned that it doesn’t matter how “high up the ladder” you get; when working for someone else, your livelihood is subject to someone else’s decisions.
In 2002, I struck out on my own as my public accounting clients reached out to me for project work. With that, I started my own consulting firm and was remarkably successful. Even then, I discovered that my life still didn’t belong to me, it belonged to my clients. While I was financially well off, I did not have the time or freedom that I sought in my life.
Tragedy strikes. My dad was diagnosed with cancer in mid-2006 and passed away in December of that year. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and passed away a year and a half later in August 2008.
That was the start of my personal discernment about what life is really supposed to be about. It took me several years and, in the end, I realized I wasn’t living my life for me. I was living it for my mom, still following her dreams for me from all those years ago.
Once I took the time to really look deep inside my soul, I found myself redefining success for myself. I found what I am truly passionate about and am on the way to making my own dreams come true.
When COVID-19 and the pandemic changed the way we lived and did business, many completely shut down. I saw this as an opportunity to take my own business to the level that I had dreamed about for several years: online and remote.
We are all blessed with amazing opportunities, regardless of our circumstances. We have choices to make when life “knocks us down.” We can sit there and wallow in our own self-pity, or we can stand up, turn around, and see all the amazing possibilities that the new normal presents.
2021 - Moving on to the next chapter I find I am happier and healthier than ever before. With the ability to work from anywhere, I am working on plans that will allow me to work as I travel the country in a motorhome, seeing all the amazing things that God has created, instead of sitting behind a desk in a high-rise building on the 35th floor looking out the window and dreaming of “someday”.
Because “someday” is now.
Cathy Connors ’95 is President/CEO of JLC Consulting, LLC