2 months ago, I started a new job.
This line does not convey the absolute enormity of this job change.
Let’s start again:
2 months ago, I left a job that changed the direction of my life and my career. In this job I was able to travel the world, expand my network by thousands, and gained invaluable experience, be comfortable. Not only that, but I made the choice to leave this job to work for the company’s direct competitor.
Hopefully that gives you a better sense of the immense change I sought in my life. The question that should be emerging from all that is Why.
- Why would I make such an extreme job change that potentially disrupts my career?
- Why introduce that level of risk to my life?
The answer is relativity simple; I was extremely unhappy and near burnout. There were three variables contributing to my unhappiness:
- I didn’t have a voice.
- At the time, I found myself in meetings where I had to nearly shout to make myself heard; it was necessary to be much more aggressive than was comfortable. As a woman, I was often talked over, or had others take credit for work I had accomplished
- I had no leadership support.
- My boss would undermine me at nearly every step. Decisions frequently made in my domain were made without consulting with me. Many times, I wasn’t even informed of these decisions, if any were made. My leadership team was also in a perpetual state of indecision, never moving forward, or backward, but constantly in this suspended state without the ability to do anything. It was genuinely depressing.
- It was impacting me mentally and physically.
- I found myself suffering from insomnia and beginning to suffer from depression. Near the end I couldn’t muster up the energy to go into the office and would choose to work from home. It was paralyzing me and effecting my sleep. I would wake up thinking about work and be unable to fall back asleep.
To be clear, I didn’t actively look for a job at the direct competitor, it just happened. As I went through the interview process, it started seeming less like a risk, and more like an opportunity. A chance to start over, and to be excited about my career again; a place where my voice wasn’t just heard but valued. Not only that, but interviewing with my future boss felt more like a conversation with a friend, someone who could mentor me, and truly help me to develop in areas I knew I wanted to grow in. Bottom line, I was wanted.
Yet, there was this nagging voice in the back of my mind
“What will people think? What about my network?”.
In the next 10 years I believe there are two moments that will stand out as career game changers:
- Being laid off from a job (future post for a future date).
- Deciding to leave my career comfort zone behind.
While I was interviewing some of my confidence started re-emerging, and I begab ti interview differently. I knew what I wanted, and I knew what was making me unhappy. Bottom line I was unwilling to go from one bad situation to another. I was pointed in my questions, and made sure to drill into areas of concern, and hold the interviewers accountable.
I wanted to accomplish transparency. Transparency into expectations, culture, and to be myself. My personality and my goals were on display for all to see. Often, we feel like we must hide behind our accomplishments, or make our failures seem less than what they are. What I found during the interviews is that you don’t. You no longer need to put on a shiny coat of gloss to be a strong candidate. There are two points of action you can take right now to up your career change game.
1. Start being more honest.
Be honest about where you have been, where you are, and where you are going. Be honest with yourself if something doesn’t feel right of your unhappy. Raise concerns. Be honest with others about what you are willing to do or not do. If you don’t, you risk finding yourself in an infinite loop of unhappiness, and next thing you know years have passed at a job you’re incredibly unhappy at.
Every single day you get a chance to reinvent yourself. I love the theme of re-invention. It’s such an empowering idea to know that you don’t have to stay the same, and that you can continually evolve.
My friends, you don’t have to stay where you aren’t wanted, and where you’re unhappy. But you do have to take that first step toward embracing re-invention.
2. It’s OK to walk away.
Know when it’s time to leave. Make that decision. I knew the moment I had to walk away when I sat crying in my boss’s office at 7 p.m. at night. Don’t wait until you’re in tears. There will be moments where you are wondering, and the frequency of that wondering will increase. Don’t wait until it’s too late and your mental health has started to erode. After you make the decision the rest will become much easier but be honest with yourself that there’s a point where you walk away. Sometimes it will be to the direct competitor because it’s the best choice. To be clear, it’s your choice to make, and only you can make it. Don’t let others judgement rob you of a fantastic opportunity.
Where does this leave you? Try being more intentional in your communication this week, see what type of responses you receive. Are there opportunities to be more honest? Are you perhaps unhappy? Assess how unhappy you are, and maybe you start looking or talking to others about what a potential move looks like.
Let me know what works, and what doesn’t. It’s a great way to start your own re-invention.