I can easily remember the first time I felt the pressure of what to wear. It was the first day of Grade 2 and I knew exactly which outfit was going to make me feel my best: a bright coloured patterned T-shirt and bright orange short-overalls that had been my dance recital costume the spring before. Whether my mother agreed or not, I looked great and went on to have a great first day. I’ve had many first days since then but the one that faces me tomorrow could be the most noteworthy.
Tomorrow is Day One; something that hasn’t marked my calendar for over seven years. This step forward closely resembles a leap of faith as I throw myself into a new year, a new world and a new job. As uncomfortable as it can be, we all crave change throughout our careers but it requires leaving our comfort zones in order to seize the opportunity to grow. But how did I get here? How did it I go from being content in my work to putting it all on the line for a new opportunity and earning a new job? Finding a new job is hard, and I don’t mean the process of scrolling through postings, working with recruiters and sending out resumes. I’m talking about the mental and emotional process you go through from wrapping your head around the idea of leaving your current company, to waiting for the right opportunity to come your way, to then putting yourself out there and leaving it all on the table to wait… and wait… to find out if you got the job.
I wasn’t even considering looking for a new job when a prospective opportunity came my way. Almost a year ago someone asked me if I’d be interested in applying for a job at their company. My immediate reaction was no, as things were running nice and smoothly where I was and after having spent seven years there, I had a pretty good thing going. I decided to hear them out and listen to what they had to say; all the while feeling disloyal to my current company. It took a couple of weeks before I could really wrap my head around the idea of working somewhere else. Though I didn’t end up applying for a job at the time, a seed had been planted.
This gave light to the idea of connecting with mentors and my network to figure out what was next in my career. I gave a lot of thought to what I wanted in a job and my career as I started to explore options, it became and more and more clear to me that I was ready for a change. I was getting dangerously close to complacency and needed to be motivated by a new challenge. Once I had made this mental shift, it was now a matter of finding the right opportunity because I wasn’t about to get up in the morning for just anybody.
Easier said than done. Too many times I have seen people leave a position or organization for the wrong reasons only to end up bouncing around. I set out to find a company I could get on board with; a company’s who brand and purpose I felt connected to and who’s strategy and innovativeness was inspiring. If I’ve learned one thing in my short but appreciable career, it would be that it’s not all about the money. Though I wouldn’t argue that it can provide freedom and choice, there has to be something else that motivates you or you will find yourself right back where you started: looking for a job.
As soon as I found the posting, I was all in - cue the tummy aches. For the next month, I threw myself into preparing for the interview because I knew it could be the answer to the change I was craving. I allowed myself to be consumed by the prep work and the pressure to earn the job. At this point, I was fully committed and decided there were no alternative options. I became a bundle of nerves and the more I talked about it, the more my anxiety grew. I decided to keep the process almost entirely to myself except for a few key confidantes whose support and advice I sought.
The interview day came and went (look for more on that next week!) and though I was excited to be offered the job I quickly realized the most difficult part was to come: I had to say goodbye to the company that had given me autonomy in my role to grow exceptionally and exponentially over seven years. Don’t be surprised when quitting your job doesn’t leave you a sense of freedom or overwhelming joy; it’s awkward and uncomfortable. After all, finding a job is hard; many would say keeping one is easier.
But what I know for sure is, going through this process led me to exactly the challenge I was seeking. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on my career, my progress and my future goals. It forced me far out of my comfort zone and showed me that focus, dedication and hard work do pay off. Now if only I could figure out what to wear tomorrow…
Any thoughts or suggestions? Let me know!