After 5 years of writing, I’m taking a risk and making a change

A columnist bids readers farewell as he explores new career opportunities

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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I’m just a few weeks from crossing the five-year mark since writing my first column for Friedreich’s Ataxia News. With that milestone approaching, I went back and read some of my old columns. Many made me chuckle, bringing fond memories to the front of my mind, while a few reminded me of some of the frustrations I’ve dealt with because of Friedreich’s ataxia (FA).

However, that introductory column stood out and has reignited my quest to become the best version of myself. Although I remembered the point I’d made about reasons versus excuses, I didn’t remember the messaging I’d used to clarify that point.

Rereading that piece has reinforced my decision to withdraw from my standing commitment to writing this column.

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Living with Friedreich’s ataxia reminds me to make the most of life

I wrestled with this decision for many months. Although I didn’t have an end date in mind, quitting something important that I enjoy is always challenging. Beyond that joy in being a columnist, I’ve grown in the process. The support of skilled editors, friends I could bounce ideas off of, and a biweekly due date offered an excellent environment for me to execute.

Getting stuff done has always been important to me, and accountability is critical to executing.

Over the past couple of months, I found myself wishing I had more time, and more often. Recently I became engaged in a personal and career development program. I’ve always wanted to be an established keynote speaker, but have never taken a proactive and intentional approach to building a speaking business.

And, as I’ve written before, nothing important happens by accident.

For years, I let “I’m too busy” and “it’s too expensive” influence me more than I should have. Although both can be valid reasons, I sometimes used them as excuses to avoid making difficult adjustments.

The coming months and the work I’ll have to do are still unclear and, at times, hard to grasp, but I remind myself that the sacrifices I make now will help me achieve my desired outcome.

I quoted communication coach Lisa Nichols in my first column, but her message is worth repeating: “What are you willing to let go of at the risk of getting something greater?”

Success is never guaranteed, and going after “greater” may not yield the expected results. But I liken my next chapter to playing the lottery: My odds may be slim, but if I don’t play, I absolutely can’t win. For now, I’ll focus more energy and time on the long game. I hope to write again at some point in the future. Until then, thank you for joining me on this journey, and keep getting stuff done!

Note: Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.


Paul Konanz avatar

Paul Konanz

You are full of talent, Sean, and these years have honed your skills! Launch, soar and land safely. I'll come listen. :-)

Jerry Marcus avatar

Jerry Marcus

I have been diagnosed with sensory ataxia. I understand there are 40 different kinds of sensory ataxia. How can I find out what kind that I have?


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