July 2020 marks 5 years of working as an advisor for FarWell and I can't believe where my career journey has taken me. As I think back on it, I never thought I'd carve the path I've made.
Planning Career Balance with a Pause
My career started off like many professionals I know. I got a job immediately out of college and went to work 1 month after graduating. I've never been one to slow down and thought I would always be a working professional.
Anyone who knows me knows I like a good plan, and I like to stick to it. Then, in 2011 I had my daughter, Heidi. I was fully prepared for my 12 weeks allotted maternity leave and to come back to work full-steam ahead. Man, how kids change things once they arrive.
When I went back to work, I found myself torn between my two worlds. I came to realize my life was out of balance. And yet, I worked for a company that prided itself on “work-life balance”. Even with a day off every other week, on-site yoga, and a wonderful coffee shop, I was still “working for the weekend.”
When I looked at my situation, no amount of perks was going to keep me because I wasn’t writing my own rules
I needed a pause. Lucky enough, I was able to take it. I still remember people saying to me "You never struck me as the type to stay home full time". Trust me, I was just surprised as they were.
Owning Work Flexibility and Saying No
Fast forward 3 years. I was ready to return to work, but I wanted to do so on my terms. What I learned is to be successful, I needed to take ownership over my situation. The key was going to be flexibility. Flexibility to work more or less as the years go on. Flexibility to work where I needed to. Flexibility to say “no” when I needed to. By staying flexible, I have found that my career is progressing more easily and I’m adapting better along the way.
Knowing My Own Value
One of the biggest hurdles I had when returning to work was knowing my own value. I’d taken 3 years off of work. Would I still know how to lead a project? Would companies see a gap in my resume and not even bother having me for an interview? What about asking for part-time work or flexible working hours? I was certain I’d never find what I was looking for.
In 2015, I was lucky enough to meet Jason Potter and FarWell and together work on a plan to get back to work. FarWell never took my resume gap as a negative attribute. They never complained about my limited availability.
FarWell lets me lead my own path. It was a partnership from the beginning
As I've built up to almost full-time work again, I still hold my life balance near and dear. (I don’t like the phrase work-life balance. I don’t know about you, but work is part of my life.) I have a clear set of boundaries for my working time.
I have support from a company if I need to say “No” to a client opportunity. I evaluate every opportunity with fresh eyes and ask myself “Am I giving up anything to take this on? If I am, am I okay with that?” FarWell makes things easier by supporting flexible working models for all of their employees.
Choose Your Own Path
I have two little girls watching me now and I hope I’m setting a good example for them. I want them to see that they can choose their own path and success isn’t always measured in a title or salary, nor in raising perfect children (parents know that’s a myth anyway).
I hope I’m measured on the relationships I’ve made over time and having a positive impact in the lives of those I meet. Choose the career you want, don’t let the career choose you.
Cheers to 5 years and many more!