When I became a mom, everything changed.
At first, I thought it was only my sleep schedule which, by itself, was pretty huge since I didn't sleep through the night for almost six years. What changed was way more than that although I didn't know it at first. Post baby, I thought I was the same person with the same goals and priorities, albeit sleep-deprived.
I knew that I’d be a working mother. I loved to work -- loved that sense of purpose -- and I really loved the people I worked with. I was passionate about the company’s mission.
So, after maternity leave, I went back to work, back to my awesome colleagues, projects and meetings and other requisite routines that actually anchored and comforted me as I grappled with my "new normal" and new identity.
Life was good and challenging in the right way and baby number two came 21 months after number one.
Working full-time and raising babies? Oy. But a lot of women do it, I told myself, and I just kept going.
Then I began to notice something that bugged me: my job got what seemed like 99% of my best energy -- the best of who I was -- and there wasn’t much left over at the end of the day. And, on Sundays my mood would slowly deteriorate as the start of the workweek approached.
My life and work felt like such a grind. Work that used to fill me up was now draining even though I still worked hard to contribute at a high level. In fact, I was considered a "top performer" -- but I wasn't fully engaged and I wasn't excited about my future.
So, after seven years of trying to make it work, I was done.
Done feeling like a crappy employee (because of the “boundaries” I put around my 24/7 availability) and done feeling like a crappy mom (because I really didn't have any boundaries around my 24/7 availability).
I realized that something needed to change.
It was hard to accept and confusing, but I finally put my finger on what had happened: I wasn't the same person I used to be. I definitely wanted different things out of life. Here are some things that I wanted (perhaps you can relate):
1. To have work that fit. But I didn't, and some days, I was dying inside. Time is precious and I didn't want to live with regret any more than I had to. Since I made the leap, I came across this article. I take every opportunity to share it because it's a powerful reminder that our time here is short.
2. To work for a company with matching values. It's not that my old company didn't have values -- certainly anyone inside or outside of the organization could read about them. But their actions didn't always match their rhetoric. Sometimes, I'd wonder, is values-speak another way to market? A way to draw in clients and top talent? Obviously, good company values make happy employees.
3. To break out. I was good at what I was doing, but I wanted to use *all* of my skills and strengths. As the company grew and I climbed the corporate ladder, I used a narrower (but important) set of skills and this limited range of motion chafed. The more we are forced to hold ourselves back in our work, the more work feels like being in a box. (Tweet that!)
A cornerstone of my work now as a career strategist and coach is to help people identify their strengths, skills, and values and figure out how they can leverage these more in their work.
4. To have more control over my path. I wanted my best career chapter to be ahead, not behind me. I also wanted to decide what work to do and not do, the people to work with and the hours to do it in.
5. To be the best role model for my kids. There's so much I want to teach my kids about finding work that lights them up, but most importantly, I want to teach them how to work for themselves, that they can create real security and real income by looking to themselves and what they have to offer and turning it into a business.
I also want my kids to know that as they change, their path can and perhaps should change if being fully satisfied at work is important (it’s not for everyone). If nothing else, I want to teach my kids by my own example to look around, get their bearings and see if what they are doing still fits with who they are and where they are in life. It’s normal and natural to want to explore different or new paths.
So...I made a huge leap from corporate employee to entrepreneur.
I made the leap to become an entrepreneur because it solved many of my struggles of being a corporate employee.
But more importantly, doing this was a way to scratch an itch I’d had for years. I’d been thinking about being my own boss for such a long time that it was something I had to do. I was curious about entrepreneurship and wanted to explore it.
How about you?
You may not want to change or think that you and your world are changing but it’s happening whether you accept it or not. None of us ever “grows up.” That would imply that we’ve arrived at our destination but we don’t, right?
It -- change, that is -- doesn’t wait for your buy in. It happens in small increments and in large, booming thunderclaps. The one choice to make is to see change for what it is and then do something about it.
What thoughts come up when you think about changing your career? Please share in the comments below!