Earlier this month, I had a long conversation with a woman. Let’s call her Sharon (name changed to protect her privacy). Our conversation started out quite simple with Sharon detailing her professional history from her humble beginnings as an entry-level industrial designer, grinding out sketches and CAD work on a daily basis, to her gradual rise to Senior Design Manager in 2004, to her brief pause from work in 2006 to focus on being a full-time mom to her now 16-year-old son. She decided to go back to work in 2013 just as her son was starting middle school. It was a big adjustment for her family but she thought she would just bounce back to work with no problems. This is when the conversation started to get heavy.
Sharon’s initial strategy of “bouncing back” was proving to be far more difficult than she had initially hoped. She was back in the industrial design space just like she’d wanted, but everything from the language to the tech to the team dynamics seemed foreign to her. Rather than quit or complain, she chose to look at these setbacks as learning opportunities. She constantly leaned on her network, volunteered to work overtime whenever she could if only to make a good impression, and eventually found herself overworked and under-compensated, scrambling to balance 80 hour work weeks with her responsibilities as a wife and mom, and desperately trying to convince herself that this “new normal” was worth it.
The turning point came when an argument with her son lead her to realize that our children are far more perceptive than we think. Sharon’s 16-year-old son is a junior in high school gearing up for SAT prep and college applications. “He’s a great kid and an above-average student when he tries, but we worry that he isn’t applying himself as much as he should be – which is why my husband and I do what we can to motivate him,” Sharon shared. “But of course, he gets frustrated when I harp on him all the time and that leads to little arguments here and there – just typical mom-son stuff. One conversation we just had, however, really jumped out at me. I was telling him why it’s so important to find things that you’re passionate about early in life because this leads to finding a job that you love, and when that happens, work doesn’t feel like work. And in the middle of explaining this, he interrupted me and said, “Mom, you hate your job, what do you know about any of that?” That’s when it hit me. I spend so much time trying to convince myself that I’m happy at work, but my own son sees right through me. What kind of role model can’t even be a good example to her own kid?”
It was then that she realized that she needed to be doing more – and fast. So she started her search for that next big position.
Up till that point, Sharon said she was just “casually looking” for her next role...but as the conversation went on, I quickly realized that she was going into this search blind, with no strategy or game plan. She believed her “big sell” was her passion for mentoring and leadership so she capitalized on that during her interviews. The truth about that, however, is that a passion for mentoring and leadership is a great add on – but for most big corporations, it’s simply not a qualifying factor. She tried as best as she could but of course, this haphazard search simply wasn’t getting her the interviews or offers she wanted. She’d considered stopping for a bit and then maybe trying to start up again later – but the heavy truth about all this? Sharon wasn’t just casually looking. She was closing door after door to opportunity. She was failing.
I see so many parents in the exact same situation as Sharon: burnt out and fed up with work, and struggling to put on a brave face for the kids. But, like Sharon, many parents don’t seem to realize just how observant our kids can be. The kids see what’s going on, and it’s only a matter of time before an employer sees it too.
Do you realize that when you walk into that office sad every single day, that you hate what you once loved? I get you’re trying to hide it and think you’ve got your game face on, but do you really believe that no one sees your apathy? Your depression? That growing loss of passion? No employer wants talent that doesn’t care for what they do; they are watching and they know. You need to be prepared to find something new because whether it’s on your time in your way, or on their time in their way, something is going to happen. Do you really want to wait to be “let go” by a job that you don’t even enjoy? It’s time to stop just “casually looking” and take your frustrations seriously. You owe it not only to yourself but to your loved ones to find a career that gets you excited.
I get you’re a mentor, a coach, and that you love inspiring people. Well, if you have kids, you know they’re watching you when you come home from work. They can see when you come home and you hate your job. They can see the dejection on your face. They see the deflated morale and they see when you’ve given up. You may not always be aware of this, but they see right through you. You know they know. Is this what you want them to see? Is this what you want to teach them? Is this what they have to look up to? NO!
How about being able to once again come home excited, loving what you do, enthralled and gabbing on and on about your day with your spouse and kids, elated and laughing over dinner? Imagine showing them what it’s like to be excited about the future. Imagine being their role model – showing them that like you, they can make whatever they want, happen. How about having your kids come home to that instead?
It’s all too easy to stay stuck in the same pattern that got you to this point because let’s face it, we’re all busy. But you’re not the only person being affected by this. Your kids are looking up to you. Think about the message you want to send. Think about the kind of role model you want to be. This isn’t just for you: how you feel about yourself and what you do creates an attitude that sets the tone for how you behave, both at home and at work, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
Don’t wait any longer. This isn’t just for you. Let’s make tomorrow happen today. Give us a call!