How To Choose The Right Job? [Sage advice from a father] - Heidi Behr

How To Choose The Right Job? [Sage advice from a father]

Welcome to our series: “Conversations that shape our lives” – by Heidi Behr, LCSW, MSW, MPH, CAP.  In this series, Heidi will be sharing stories that shape our lives in often surprising ways.  

These stories will be from her own life – and others.

If you want to apply to share a conversation which shaped your life, please contact us by clicking here. We will review your conversation and contact you within 2 weeks if you’re eligible for this series.

This is a conversation with my dad – about which job I should take.

It shaped my life.

I was 24 years old and newly married to my first husband, Peter. We had just moved from Florida to Connecticut so he could attend grad school.

We were feeling excited to start a new phase of life.

I was also worried, because we were so far away from home. I had never lived anywhere but Florida.

Peter was excited to start grad school.  He had 40 new “friends” in his architecture program and very structured days filled with school.

I had no job and nothing to do but unpack – and worry about Peter.

While I was unpacking in our new “home” (aka: “tiny apartment housing for married students”) I was reading the phone book and fielding calls to agencies that might want to hire me as a Substance Abuse Counselor.

While I was in the midst of narrowing down the agencies that sounded promising, I was simultaneously starting to interview for jobs. Soon, I was astounded to quickly get not one, but two job offers!

  • The first offer was to provide counseling to teenagers, as I had been doing in Florida. That was my wheelhouse, my comfort level.  The program was a little different than the ones I had worked at in Florida, but working with kids felt easy and familiar to me.
  • The 2nd offer was to work as a Substance Abuse Counselor for adults with opiate addiction who were in a methadone-to-abstinence program.

That was something I had never done before. I was flattered, but also intimidated.

Opiate addiction?  You mean “heroin addicts”?

That sounded scary to naive me.

Even though I was partly uncertain about the jobs, I was happy to have two offers. I felt glad to know I would soon be working.

But at which place?

Each job offer wanted an answer right away.

I wanted to talk it through. Peter was off at school, so I called my parents.

I told my parents about the jobs. I felt proud describing the offers to them. I wanted them to not worry about me, to know I could handle my life.

Yet I also wanted their approval and support.

I had pretty much decided to take the job working with teens.

But then my dad asked me two questions which opened my mind – and changed my life.

He pondered aloud…

“I wonder which job you will learn more from? Which job will be more challenging?”

I thought…

Duh: I don’t know anything about working with adult heroin addicts!  That population seemed highly scary to me. It was something I had never done before. I imagined: Go work at the scary methadone clinic? Yikes!

I had been giving demerits to this this opportunity because the job seemed scary and unfamiliar.

It was a bit shocking to me that my father was giving this unlikely opportunity secret bonus points for those same reasons.

It was a new thought to me that the thing which was scarier might be the more right choice to do.

This was a conversation which shaped my life

I took the leap of faith (and followed my dad’s wise counsel).

I went to work at the methadone clinic.  And yes, it was a teeny bit intimidating, too!

I am so glad I did.  I faced my fears – and moved through it all bravely.

Well, except this one time.

I admit I did get scared once.

I met a client who fit my stereotype of “heroin  addict”: long scraggly hair, motorcycle boots, greasy nails, dark sunglasses.

My fear lasted only a few seconds – because the staff told the client, “Charlie, knock it off! You’re scaring the new girl.”

Yes, I could have taken what felt like the safer route- staying in a job that was more familiar.

But man, the growth and learning that took place in my life from that methadone counseling job choice! WOW! It opened so many doors for me – and my eyes too.

Even today I am deeply appreciative when I think about my dad’s question:

“Which job will you learn more from?”

His words forever helped me to see the importance of taking leaps of faith, especially when you know there is something you want.

My dad knew I wanted to grow as a counselor. He knew learning was part of life’s joy for me.

Thanks, Dad!

heidi behr
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Heidi Behr is a Psychological and Spiritual Well-Being Expert, Self-empowerment Author, Licensed Therapist, Speaker, Workshop & Retreat leader, EFT-Tapping Expert, Yoga and Happiness Practitioner (and she also makes killer guacamole!). Heidi is also an artist who makes her own inspirational share-graphics each day. You can find her online at,  Instagram at heidifeelpeacenow,, and at Twitter @heidibehr.

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