Scrolling Instagram or TikTok and becoming too comfortable with the scary-accurate self-deprecating humor of a generation by @justme.rod and @corporatenatalie went from a soothing validation of 99.9% of my life to a prescribed future of misery. If we’re collectively stuck, how do I get unstuck from the anxiety, fear, and monotony of the conventional drone-race of corporate America? Others talk about creating self-sustaining farm communes or heading to the mountains for #cabinlife in a sexy a-frame tinyhouse. But for most, the choice isn’t between leaving it all for #lessismore, it’s about the #manifestation of walking in your truth. But like shedding a winter coat, uncovering authentic truth is matted by time.
As a millennial in my early 30s, and encouraged to evaluate growth ambitions, I followed the trail of reflection and truth to identify where I felt the most success in my experience unbound by the self-applied expectations of my career path. After 12 years in marketing, and looking ahead to even the next five, it was emotionally painful to think of continuing this path of building engines for generating revenue. As a self-diagnosed perfectionist with security-driven tendencies seeking validation and being liked by others, I obsess over functional challenges in the pursuit of exceeding expectations of those in a place to judge my work. What’s at the root of this roast-worthy self evaluation? Control. I can’t control how others perceive me; I can only do the best I can with the time I’m given. But you see, that need, which I’m not alone in, means that work is personally allowed to consume every waking thought.
And so, through this journey of considering the coming decades of personal growth, I arrived at a crossroads. Go numb in the multi-decade march to retirement, or get vulnerable and manage change starting today.
Where I found the most joy, excitement, and motivation for how I’d spend the years ahead was a field I’d often fallen adjacent to in my career, and how I spent my time side-hustling. You see, with a marketing career in higher education and educational technology, I’d tiptoed around the idea of merging my passion for education with the corporate field of talent management strategy, and more specifically learning and development. It’s not difficult to see how marketing and communication skills fit neatly inside corporate learning. After all, content is content, but for what sake? My focus is shifting from revenue generation to efficiency by working closely with people to facilitate the curriculum of their self-development. Developing talent from where they are today to their self-actualized vision of where they want to be, aligned with realistic opportunities.
And as a part-time college instructor and course designer, as well as an admissions committee member for a top-MBA program, the opportunities I so enjoyed outside of work are literally nested within the career before me. An opportunity to seek connected work, the connection between my motivation and the mark I want to leave on the world around me.
So, what held me back before now? Fear. It’s the fear that radical change, which isn’t so radical, jumps outside the comfort zone of my concept of society's expectations. Self-imposed boundaries that have taken the articulation of my story to look beyond the present and define the outline of the portrait of my future. The color and detail has yet to be drawn by the months and years to come. It's not that I hadn't considered this career direction in the past, it's that I didn't allow myself the space to consider the risk of making a change and failing.
And so, I challenge myself to continue on this journey with resurrected confidence and clarity in developing a plan to continue to grow in this new direction. Focus on people and their connection to business strategy that drives growth, but it’s within that connection that my motivation is fueled.
A few book recommendations that helped me along the way:
Career Clarity: Finally Find the Work That Fits Your Values and Your Lifestyle by Lisa Lewis Miller
Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown
Millionaire Success Habits: The Gateway to Wealth & Prosperity by Dean Graziosi
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski PhD and Amelia Nagoski DMA
and what I'm reading now, that I wish I'd read sooner:
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson