Bravely Facing the Epic Decision of a Career Pivot
I used to wake up every day with the same dread of going to work again. I hated my job.
It was not so much that I hated the job itself. I liked consulting in that I liked coming up with industrious solutions. I liked the coffee machine in the office. I enjoyed some of the people I worked with and appreciated the way others would become impressed when I answered the classic "What do you do?" question.
The problem was that these pros were outweighed by so many cons that I started to cry whenever I wrote the list.
(I am a crier but there are different kind of crying. These days after speaking engagements, I cry when people share their truths or reveal that my experience touched them deeply or ignited a fire. That's a sister cry. I also cry at the nostalgia of old ad campaigns.)
Hating my job and realizing that I was losing my real self in my corporate shell, evoked in me a deep sorrowful sob full of shame and hopelessness. How could a life that looked so great from the outside be so unsatisfying to me?
Then it came to me: I had only two options to choose from: Pursue the corporate career or pivot.
I could either put my head down and knock the socks off of everyone at each consulting engagement until I became partner and could call the shots. Or I could pivot, leave behind my suits and skirts, satisfy my soul and get on with living the kind of life I could wake up to every day without dread.
Many people have been at that proverbial fork in the road. Here's the difference between the people who are sought after as mentors and those hardly come up on the radar: They make a decision.
I'm not going to tell you that making the decision to quit my job was a cakewalk. It came with no cake and was all walk. I walked into the office of my boss feeling like I might just become sick on her paperweight, walked past my former colleagues on the way out of said boss's office, walked past the doorman with my little box of belongings -- and out into the big wide world.
Luckily, the big wide world loves the walkers, pays handsomely those who pivot correctly and provides opportunities to those willing to commit to a decision. I've never met someone who says she regrets leaving a situation she dreaded each day.
I deeply understand and empathize anyone now facing a big decision like this. Sometimes it's just easier to stay in the same place than to commit to either end of a decision.
I made the decision to pivot at age 29. It's been nine years since that defining moment when I was outside smoking (yes, I used to smoke) with my office buddy and he said, "We'd better get back in there; we are on their clock after all." Then I knew I had to make the decision or else I would stay on the company's clock and wake up at 55 wondering where 25 years of my life had gone.
If you're faced with this type of big decision, my best advice is make it: Decide whether to pursue the corporate life or pivot. Nothing will change unless you decide or unless, of course, someone else decides for you.
That company I used to work for made a wholesale change to its business about three months after my departure and I would not have fit into the new structure anyway. So my leaving would have been decided for me. By that time I would have missed out on an opportunity to set up an agreement for a construction project. This ended up being the first project I landed -- which got my very first company off the ground -- and me into my barefoot boardroom.