Something shifted within my professional life the last few months. Or maybe the last few years if I’m honest with myself. What once was a mostly fulfilling aspect of my life is now fraught with boredom and an overwhelming feeling of being stuck. Trapped. With no end in sight. I’ve talked to mentors, colleagues, and friends about my predicament and all offered good bits of advice – specific steps I could and should take to advance my career. Sound advice that makes total sense to the logical side of my brain. Yet I remain stuck. I can’t bring myself to take those steps because I’m wrestling with a feeling that this isn’t what I’m meant to do with my life. I know. Seriously, a feeling? The logical side of my brain cringes at the idea of making career decisions based on a feeling of all things. But what happens when you realize you don’t want any of the jobs you should take? Qualified or not, I find myself not even being interested.
What I do know is the lack of fulfillment at work is negatively impacting every aspect of my being. I’m lazier, less motivated, and downright crabby when not getting what I need out of my career. Monday to Friday I spend the vast majority of my life at work. When that’s not a positive experience, it’s going to trickle into my home and personal life. Today I drove home from work wondering how the hell this happened to my life. And better yet, how am I going to turn it around?
Over the last 5 years I’ve encountered forks in my career path. Places where I knew a left turn would take me off the path for X, Y or Z promotion or job. Perhaps only in the short-term but a big decision for a mother and ambitious woman. A few months into being back to work with my oldest I was offered and ultimately turned down a promotion. It was a decision I struggled with as I had been working towards that promotion for years. The job would have been challenging, engaging, and downright exciting. BUT it would have meant abnormally late and irregular work hours. Not exactly compatible with having a newborn at home.
Today I have a job offer that’s not a promotion but a step towards an eventual promotion. It’s what I should do within my career field. And deep down it’s what I want to do. While my current position has afforded me the opportunity to have more family time, I’m self-aware enough to know it’s time to move on to something more challenging. Why am I struggling then? Our oldest is dealing with his own issues and obstacles since we moved to our forever home. Since I believe in protecting my children’s privacy as much as possible, especially on the internet, I’ll leave it at that. As his mother I want to be there for him as much as humanly possible.
But I also have things I want for myself, in addition to my family life, that are also a factor. We, as mothers, aren’t often encouraged to admit those goals or dreams but they’re within all of us somewhere. Whether it’s spending more time on a hobby you enjoy or joining a community organization or working outside the home, we’re all pulled in competing directions. Time and energy being so finite makes these trade-offs all the more difficult. Tonight I sleep on it. Tonight I give myself time and space to make the decision. History has taught me to trust my gut. Hopefully I wake up with the answer to the fork in the road.