Perhaps, we are alike, you and I. You may have always wanted to get it all right! Whatever you did; academics, career, relationships, fitness, writing, finances, and all life’s experiences. Maybe it takes you longer than average to settle on the best choice for the singular fact that you cannot afford regrets after you have decided. You would rather move slowly in the right direction than swiftly on a journey less relished, in the wrong direction. I want to tell you an excerpt of my story; how I made a bold career decision amidst fear.
I quit an underpaying entry-level job with promises of higher education when I was 24, with no immediate plans for another job, and very little savings.
First, of all, I have always believed I was capable of so much more and was filled with the confidence of being destined for that much. While at home for four months, I never once job-hunted but invested my time into my writing, fitness, and studies to be equipped for a preferred postgraduate degree. Now unlike others with the school of thought that if you must quit your current job, be sure to have a better offer waiting for you, I believed other reasons could warrant such a decision.
- Academic and professional burnout.
- A time for soul-searching and mindset calibration
- The quest for a career to love.
- Search for opportunities to make worthwhile impacts.
Having a better opportunity waiting is perfect if you have your next step all figured out. I did not, I must add. I would rather strive within a challenging environment, growing and improving daily.
I secured a job in Quality Assurance in the next month. A more challenging opportunity with no experience whatsoever, just the zeal to grow every day and the trust of an employer willing to take a chance on me. Two years and eight months down the line, every day brings a new experience. New tasks come to my desk daily, and even if I am unable to complete some tasks quickly; I have acquired the skill of approaching difficult tasks and mastered the techniques on how to search for information. I wake up on Monday mornings not so dreary to report for my job because I know brain stimulation awaits me. I have acquired local and international travel experience, and have had the opportunity to practicalize my ideas, monitor and evaluate those ideas, and performed auditing as well as teaching and reporting. I see myself growing into an ambitious young woman who has carved a niche for herself.
From this exposure, I have learnt to sieve through the opinions of others and have figured out what works best for me. Now I know my strengths, weaknesses, threats, and favourable opportunities. I know what I want from here on. Some of these tips could be beneficial to you, in making bold career growth decisions:
- Listen to what your intuition or feelings tell you
If you want fulfilment from your career, it needs to be in alignment with your values. Your feelings and intuition will help you discern this even if you haven’t utterly identified all those values. Think of it this way, when you’re faced with discomfort from making a big decision, how does your mind react to either option; to stay or leave? To make that application or not? To accept the offer or decline? Usually, before logic kicks in, you’ll experience a strong emotion. This can provide vital insights on the way to go if that path is in alignment with the core of who you are.
- What matters to you?
Once you have connected with your emotions and intuition, you should consciously identify your values. What is worth trading off? What can you not give up? What is of utmost importance on your career journey? Financial benefits? Making a worthwhile impact? A vision to be materialized? The expectations of others? The list goes on. Map these out and you have ruled out step two on making bold career decisions.
- What is the reality of the situation?
The goal of asking yourself this question is to make sure that you are making your choices for the right reasons. Otherwise, you might end up having false expectations or feeling disappointed by the choice you make. To answer this question, you must be objective and consider the realities surrounding your options, not your assumptions. Who or what is the motive for the decision? Will you be up to the task? What is the risk/benefit ratio of your decision? Can your expectations be satisfied? It will take time but giving your full attention to each of these points and more should help you conclude on what career path is best for you.
With an emphasis on resilience, one lesson I gathered from my stubbornness to pursue and stick to what works best for me was first to identify what did not or was not working well for me. My exposure was stale, from one mundane day to the other. It takes a level of courage to take such a risk, for career growth, especially in our corner of the world – Africans, with fewer opportunities for innovation and solid career growth, especially doing something we love. It’s a chance if taken, could blow up in your face. However, that is the exciting part; the odds; the chance that it could all work out great! It took faith.