Why a rock singer and doctor abandoned — then reclaimed — their first careers

In the mid-1990s, all Chris Archibald wanted to do was rock out. He played in a band and pursued his dream, but fame and fortune didn't follow. So he found a government job.

'I came to the realization that I couldn't sit in a cubicle and shuffle papers'

Members of BC DC from left to right: Brendan 'Brian Bon Johnscottson' Raftery, Chris 'Spliff Swilliams' Archibald, Marc-Andre 'Marc the Sharc' Hamelin, Eric 'Larry Davut Hasslehootz' Hoodicoff, Brian 'Mangus Hung' Cassian. (Submitted by Chris Archibald)
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In the mid-1990s, all Chris Archibald wanted to do was rock out. He played in a band and pursued his dream, but fame and fortune didn't follow.

So he did the responsible thing and took a government human resources job.

"I was a hopeful young rock-and-roll guitar player with dreams of fame and fortune and a life in the music business," Archibald told Cross Country Checkup during an episode on career changes.

Archibald is BC DC's bassist. (Submitted by Chris Archibald)

But after a decade of pursuing stardom without success — and with pressure from family and friends — Archibald signed on for a one-year government internship.

It went well at first. But he eventually grew restless behind a desk.

"At the eleventh hour, I came to the realization that I couldn't sit in a cubicle and shuffle papers for the rest of my life," he said.

In 2000, Archibald, then 31, told his family and friends he was throwing caution to the wind and returning to music.

He joined BC DC, an AC DC cover band. The 48-year-old from Crawford Bay, B.C., hasn't looked back.

Not the right fit

The fantasy of dropping a day job and following a passion resonates for many, and it's something that career counsellor Anne Carbert knows about.

"I hear people with different kinds of career restlessness," she told Checkup guest host David Common. "They're coming to me because something isn't fitting quite right."

There are many reasons people feel compelled to change jobs. According to a survey by consultancy Accenture, 31 per cent of people cite a lack of empowerment, reports Forbes.

Carbert helps people navigate their emotions, whether it's restlessness from outgrowing a job or simply dissatisfaction with the work.

Anne Carbert is a Stratford, Ont., career counsellor. (Submitted by Anne Carbert)

As a medical resident, Abraham Tio, had career doubts before his job as a doctor even started.

"I'd wake up in the morning really questioning why I was there, doing what I was doing in residency and I thought, 'I shouldn't have these questions,'" he said.

Tio instead started his own software development company, building an electronic medical records system for healthcare agencies.

The more you get on in your life and your career, the more careful you need to be about some decisions- Anne Carbert

After two decades as a developer — and finding success that allowed Tio and his wife to buy eight hectares in rural B.C. — he threw in the towel and, like Archibald, returned to his original plan.

When a position in his B.C. community opened up, he took the opportunity.

"I envision just driving down the road from my cabin in the woods to go see a bunch of patients and making the community better — maybe even making it grow," he said.

'I've lived my rock 'n' roll dream'

A report in the Washington Post finds that only about half of small businesses make it past the four-to-five year mark.

Carbert, who meets with clients that have many passions, suggests taking an incremental approach to changing careers.

That might include taking classes after work, or developing a small business on the side, she says.

"The more you get on in your life and your career, the more careful you need to be about some decisions," she said. "But that doesn't mean the change can't happen."

BC DC has played in stadiums around the world, including tours in China, Thailand and Mexico. (Submitted by Chris Archibald)

Taking a leap can still be fruitful, it seems.

Archibald, whose father criticized his decision to start a cover band as the "worst decision you've ever made," has made a career of his work.

"BC DC will be celebrating our 20th anniversary next year and for the past two decades I've lived my rock n' roll dream," he said, adding that they've played in stadiums around the world.

"It's been a stable and successful career."

Now, far away from being a pencil pusher, he says he couldn't be happier.

Written by Jason Vermes.