At many points in our careers, we are all faced with challenges and tough decisions. At the forefront of how we handle these decisions is purpose. It is different for each of us — what drives and motivates one person may be completely different for another. As life changes and you find yourself navigating through a new season, that purpose may also change.
Years ago, I was starting out in my career in an industry that I was passionate about. When I was young and single, the vision was clear: learn the business, climb the ladder, chase promotions. My desire to learn outweighed the potential to line my bank account. I didn't need to have everything, I just wanted to have something and to create a nice life. My motivation was growth and stability. But as my own life changed, so did all of that. At some point, I realized there needed to be something more, something that would keep me coming back through the tough moments.
When I started to struggle in my career, it was passion that kept me coming back. My division was going through difficult financial struggles, the project list wasn't what we had hoped for, and day in and day out we were faced with tough decisions. At some point, I found that my purpose was getting lost in the struggle, and I knew it was time to make a change. My children deserved a mother who wasn't depleted by the end of the day with little left to give when she got home from work.
I dug deep to go back to the very thing that motivated me to pursue my career in the first place and find a way to make it work with how my life looked now. I found my "why," which eventually allowed me the freedom to make a departure from my position and create a new path, on my own terms. As I was struggling through this process, here are some of the things I considered.
Look Beyond the Dollar Signs
Money isn't enough. It can certainly make life a little more manageable at times, but if you are truly wishing to follow your passion, money becomes secondary. It is inevitable that at some point in each of our careers, things will change. If you are simply motivated by dollar signs, you are more likely to remain in a situation that may otherwise be unhealthy. Change can be scary, but allowing ourselves to become victims of our circumstances is much scarier.
On the Very Worst Day . . .
There will always be moments in our lives and careers that are more difficult than others. By allowing yourself to imagine what the very worst day may look like, you are able to see if what you are currently chasing is enough to keep you exactly where you are. If it's not, it may be time to sit with yourself and let your heart talk to your mind.
If the World Were Ending . . .
One of the questions I always ask young women when I am mentoring them through their careers is, "If the world were ending in a month, what would you be doing differently?" The question allows you to think about the changes you would make if you knew everything was coming to an end. Why wait?
Plans change. We need to allow ourselves to be flexible to these changes and realize that sometimes the original plan isn't going to be what the end game looks like. If we are flexible as changes happen, we allow ourselves the fluidity to adjust accordingly.
Learning to trust the process when the future is uncertain is hard. It can be one of the most challenging things to navigate through, both in life and your career. By allowing yourself a little grace when things don't go according to plan and learning to trust, life will unfold and things will work out, just as they always do.
Had I only been driven by money and titles, I never would've had the ability to change the trajectory of my own life and career. It is my purpose and passion that create my "why," my reason for coming back and working hard — even on the worst day. It may not be easy, but it is worth it.