Julia had worked as an educator in various teaching roles and served the non-profit community throughout her professional life.

Julia enjoyed her work, but she also felt something was missing. She enrolled in one of our classes to help her figure out what she might do next. In the first class she described to fellow students that while her current work had served her well while raising her children, she felt she was ready for more, and could do more.

Man standing atop a mountain, facing the sun with arm upstretched

One of the assignments in class was particularly illuminating for Julia. She recalled her dreams of earlier years and could see how her life had taken her in a different direction. This exercise helped her come to understand how she got to where she was today and what was “missing.”

This turned out to be the beginning of a commitment that she ultimately made to herself to pursue a long held, long delayed dream.

Julia knew what she wanted to “be when she grew up.” She wanted to be a teacher. As is true for many people, her adult life took her in a different direction than she had anticipated, and her dream didn’t quite play out the way that she had imagined.

This turned out to be the beginning of a commitment that she made to herself to pursue a long held, long delayed dream.

What Julia wanted today was to teach at the university level. She knew this would mean getting her doctorate.

Like many people, Julia had made some assumptions that were limiting her ability to move forward. One was that it was “too late.” Now in her fifties, she thought she was too old to go back to school and finally get her doctorate.

Julia’s coach suggested she talk to people in higher education who were doing what she wanted to do. Her coach helped her make connections with people inside universities and as these conversations multiplied it gave her insight into this world and what she would need to do next.

Spurred by the powerful yearning she felt toward this dream, Julia took the next step of applying to colleges. She was accepted at the college that was her first choice and eagerly, albeit nervously, dove in. Over the next three years she pursued her doctorate, and her dream, while continuing to work part time.

She enjoyed being a student again and every aspect of getting her doctorate: from the classwork, to research, ultimately defending her dissertation, and especially teaching. She found it invigorating and exhausting at the same time.

Along the way, there were many times that she thought she would have to give up. The finish line appeared out of reach.

Julia persevered, met the challenge, and went on to get her PhD. She gained new confidence in herself along the way. She had set a difficult goal and she had achieved it.

Today Julia is a professor. She enjoys teaching, being part of an academic community, and being a mentor to doctoral students.

As Julia put it “I took the risk, went for it, and am living the life of my dreams.”

Note: To honor confidentiality and protect the privacy of our clients we do not use names and have altered possibly identifying details in this Case Study.

About Perceptive Leaders LLC

Perceptive is a boutique leadership development and professional transitions consulting firm based in Denver, Colorado serving clients in the US and Canada, since 2005. We have worked with over 1,000 senior organizational leaders and accomplished career professionals to help them recognize opportunities for impactful and substantive change and how to realize that transformational change. For more than 15 years, Perceptive has been helping leaders and their teams transform their leadership. For more information, visit perceptiveleaders.com.

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