Doesn’t every aspect of your world, both personally and professionally, seem to be driven by the pandemic these days? Considering that, a friend commented that she was struggling with holiday decorating. She lives alone and will have no one in her home for the holidays due to the pandemic. What to do? Tradition, habit, and other people’s opinion of whether or how she should decorate appeared to be muddling the decision-making process. She really does have choices: she could go full-out in decorating, just because she loves the way it looks. She could choose just to decorate the rooms she will most frequent. Holy cow, she could do nothing at all! This is such a metaphor for choice and the age-old question, “Whose life is this, anyway?” To truly “own” our decisions and choices may be one of the earmarks that we have reached adulthood, regardless of our age. I’m not recommending ignoring the needs of others when they are impacted by your choices, but this may be a great time to reflect on how you make choices, personally and professionally.
If you are being honest with yourself, you may find that decisions and choices are being run out of habit or “The way I’ve always done it.” Life changes, you get divorced, you move out-of-state, you are terminated. Seasons of life change, you get your master’s degree, you have a child, you near retirement age. You don’t have to keep doing things the same way, especially if you have never really considered YOUR wants and needs. Perhaps it is time to move out of rote and into intentionality. The ability to choose differently at home may give you the skill and confidence to translate this into your career.
I was an advocate for women to “lean in” to their career long before Sheryl Sandberg wrote the book Lean In and coined the phrase “lean in”. With that said, we are all vastly different, with different skills, temperament, and aspirations. Choosing for yourself can be tough, especially if you have spent your entire life pleasing others. It’s time to ask, “WHY?” Why am I making this choice? Are you living the career your parents wanted for you? Are you in the job that seems to be the usual for your circle of friends? Have you chosen to step up into leadership because a professor or mentor saw that as an opportunity for you? Have you succumbed to the influence of media as to what you should be aspiring?
Perhaps you are considering a major choice like changing careers. The Career Foundry identifies 5 reasons to make a career change:
- You need a new challenge
- Your values have changed
- You want to focus on other things
- Your passion lies elsewhere
- You’re not happy
I work with many women who are exploring this stage of choice. However, your choices don’t have to be that dramatic. One of my clients felt the “itch” to have a higher income and switch her focus from a customer service role to a sales role. Another client, given the option of a promotion that would have put her in charge of a large team, turned it down. With some guidance, she came to the realization that “herding cats”, her term for managing others, would make her life miserable. She wanted to be responsible for HER work only. She came to me with her husband’s comment, “Are you nuts? Of course, you will say yes to a management position.” She was finally able to remind him, he was not the one that would be “herding the cats”! It isn’t easy bucking the perspective of others, even when they are well-meaning.
Your choices may seem less dramatic than these but still will make a difference in your life. Recently, I had a client say “No” to serving on a committee that would have an impact on the diversity and inclusion policies of her company. Though she was passionate about the power of diversity and inclusion, with small children and the iffy nature of the pandemic and childcare, she declined. It was all about the season of her life.
Where in the world do you start with taking the reins of your own career? A good first step will be to go through the steps in Kay’s Consulting Corner. Perhaps that is not nearly enough assistance. If you are struggling with career choices and need someone without a “dog in that fight” to guide you, I might just be the woman for you. Call me at 513-561-4288 or email me at Kay@highheeledsuccess.com. We can arrange a complimentary consultation to talk about your situation.