Jennifer Gresham

© Farnoosh Brock

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.

- Benjamin Franklin

Do you ever hear a little voice in your head wondering, “Is this it?” Are you restless and dissatisfied, even though from the outside you appear to have it all?

I used to feel the same way. Anyone would have looked at my life two years ago with envy. But one day, when I took a rare but coveted day off, I felt a kind of euphoria. While I enjoyed the prestige and challenge of my job, I realized it simply wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time. That’s when I knew it was time for real change.

Career design is a process.

The idea is to create a career that enhances your life instead of trying to cram your life around your job. Ambition and big dreams will take you far, but without a sense of what’s really important to you, it’s easy to wind up in a pretty unfulfilling place.

Waking up to a job you relish isn’t just a dream, it’s what you deserve.

Designing a career from scratch can also be scary and overwhelming. The sheer number of options can induce panic. As you try to figure out what you want from life, you will suffer doubt and even question your sanity.

Those are the moments when you’ll need someone who can guide you to clarity and give you the courage to pursue your dreams. And that’s what we’re here for – me and my readers, that is.

You are not alone.

My readers are intelligent, engaged and thoughtful people who are serious about changing their lives for the better. I have a large readership, but it’s an intimate group. We trade advice, experience and life stories in comments and emails.

Having a community to support you is an important part of the process. Without encouragement and accountability, it’s just too easy to give up when the going gets hard.

Dawn Lennon (one of my top commenters) recently wrote, “Jen gives voice to the importance of living with optimism and courage. She has a way of touching our soft spots and then motivating us to get going. Her perfect balance of intuition and logic deliver actionable awareness.”

Are you ready to shine?

One of the biggest reasons people don’t succeed with career design is fear.

It reminds me of a story I read about a guy talking to his therapist about his relationship with his girlfriend. Everything was going really well. He was happy, but he was afraid to commit. He said to his therapist: What if it doesn’t work out? And the therapist replied: What if it does?

When you try to make a big change in your life, nearly everyone asks you the first question, when you really should be focused on the second. How would your life change if your job was an integral, sustaining, and fulfilling part of your life?

“Dare to Shine” isn’t just pat encouragement. It’s a call to action: to define success on your own terms, to muster the courage to pursue your happiness, to create a life you love.

A scientist by training and an optimist at heart, I’ll show you how I and many others turned our career fantasies into reality. If you’re serious about wanting to transform your life, sign up here to get free delivery of new posts and a dose of inspiration delivered right to your inbox.

Science is life, and life is science: you can’t be interested in one and not the other.

My name is Jennifer Gresham and my Myers-Briggs personality type is INTJ. I grew up on five acres of pine and saw palmetto in one of the few rural areas of Tampa, Florida. I am a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where I was nick-named Cadet Happy Camper. I am the odd combination of PhD biochemist and award-winning poet.

I eventually returned to the Air Force Academy as an instructor, where every student is required to take a full year of chemistry. Based on informal surveys, I can tell you not everyone was as riveted by the periodic table or Le Chatelier’s principle as I was. I would explain, “Science is life, and life is science: you can’t be interested in one and not the other.”

This is somewhat ironic given that I struggled to choose between a chemistry and English major in college myself. Twenty years later I realized I chose science because I thought it would pay the bills, not because I truly had that “fire in the belly.” This blog chronicles how I eventually left my scientific career to become a full-time writer and public speaker.

But I think it makes perfect sense. I love science for the illumination it provides on the world around us. I also understand that life is a series of experiments in which we are (or should be) enormously invested in the outcome. I am thankful I spent time learning how to analyze and interpret results, a discipline that’s benefited the 1600 monthly readers of this blog who turn to me for advice and guidance as they embark on life changes of their own.

A lesser-known benefit of my teaching career was that my office was catty-corner to the man who would later become my husband. We like to tell people we “just had that chemistry.” We currently live in Montgomery, Alabama with our daughter Ingrid, and two cats, Pico and Starbuck.