However, after 14 years with the same company I was having doubts. I felt like the work was repetitive and I didn’t see what my next career step would be. I was comfortable in the role, loved the people I worked with and enjoyed the actual day to day work but couldn’t help thinking there was more. I was very unclear about what I wanted to do next. I could identify elements I wanted and didn’t want but not how that came together.
After an extended notice period I left with no clear path ahead. I considered a few different paths, had lots of conversations with family, friends and ex-colleagues about what I could do and looked at a lot of job adverts, few of which appealed. I realised I lacked a methodology for how to go about making career decisions.
I started a business which was intended to be focused on consulting to recruitment agencies. However, I saw opportunities to do work on a contracting basis which appealed. I started to become clearer about what I enjoyed, what I didn’t enjoy and the type of environment I wanted to be in. As a self-diagnosed ‘people pleaser’ I tend to think about what I can do rather than what I want to do and so this period of working this out came with challenges.
I wanted to do challenging work, but I didn’t want to be in a full-time role at a recruitment agency. There were offers to do jobs which I felt I had done fifteen years ago. I wanted to be able to pick my children up from school and take them to activities but there seemed little flexibility available. Some companies said ‘well your team will need to see you working hard in the office’ despite the fact that I had achieved great results working some of the time at the office and some of the time from home for years.
Eventually things started to come together. A one-off assignment turned into ongoing consulting work. I got involved in a tech start-up which I really enjoyed – there was lots to learn but I felt I could also bring a new perspective to the table. I did some consulting to Recruiters which was rewarding. Eventually I realised I was building a portfolio career. However, the one element I missed was working in a team on a regular basis, working towards the same goal with someone who was a true partner. In discussing this with an ex-colleague we realised we both felt the same way and Michelle and I came together to launch Empowered Decision.
There have been a lot of lessons along the way. The main one being that comfort is not a great thing and that confidence comes from getting yourself into situations that slightly push the boundaries; l found that looking after your own skill set gives more control over the content of your work. Another is not to rush the decision making; working out a short term and medium goal with someone who is interested but objective ensures that decisions are not made in the heat of the moment. I also realised its ok to become more selective as you get more experience and that ultimately it is you who has to be happy with the decisions you made, no one else.