7 years – a long time to stay in your first job some tell me. And some wonder – why did I change at this point? I am in my comfort zone, a mom of a toddler and I recently bought a house in the city. So why on earth would I decide to switch jobs and move to a new city?
Well the truth is – it took me a lot of courage to take this decision. It certainly wasn’t an easy one. I knew it that my career graph was not what I had envisioned and I chose to ignore it for a long time- by consoling myself that I have good work life balance, good pay and a brand name, I can focus on my baby and on my writing. People like reading my blogs, let me focus on the good things in my life. A person cannot get everything- maybe a good career is not meant for me.
But I couldn’t fool myself for long as I knew in my heart that I put in my best into whatever work I did. If that was not getting its due, it’s time for me to move. I cannot keep blaming people around and complaining, I had to do something change it.
And that led me to explore new opportunities which then meant moving to a new city. As I sit back and analyze what went wrong and what mistakes I should avoid in my career going forward, the following 3 come to mind:
1) I often wonder why I stayed put for such a long period. It’s not that it was a sudden realization that things are not working in my favor. I did have personal reasons like my hesitance to move out of the city I lived in and limited opportunities in the same city in my kind of work which compelled me to stay put. I realized that these were artificial barriers created by me though. I am not implying that one should not think long term. I am a long term thinking sort of person but it’s important to keep our eyes open- if things are not working out, do not immediately look to move but take time to sort them out, work on stuff and give it your best shot. But if you feel it’s still not working out look for a new opportunity. There is no point whining and wasting time. It took me too long to take this step and that was a big folly.
2) Don’t ever let anyone demoralize you – you are awesome, smart, efficient, capable, dedicated, committed, have technical expertise and are doing your job really well. Don’t look for that validation from others, tell yourself this. Have a strong self worth and don’t let anyone ever erode it. I have very good academic credentials with an all India rank and I have always had a high level of confidence in my abilities. But few people started spewing negativity time and again and over time my confidence in myself took a dent. I started doubting my abilities, and that was a big mistake. I am not implying one should develop a superiority complex but it’s very important to believe in yourself for without that one can never succeed. We may meet people who try to trample our confidence but not allowing them to deter us – this is a resolve we must make.
3) Step out of your comfort zone time and again and challenge yourself – not just in your job but in creating visibility amongst your seniors. It’s very easy to mingle and among a few that you count as your good friends but this is not a school or college, it’s a workplace. What management thinks of you can significantly impact your career- Are you the first person who comes to mind when there is something new to be driven? And their perception to a large extent depends on your interaction and relationship with them. Some might looks at it as flattering the boss to have an easy way and that was what I have thought for a long time which made me take a back step and maintain minimal contact with my superiors. My work speaks for me I thought. How silly! I now realize. It’s important to recognize your stakeholders and work towards creating a good relationship with them. It may not always be easy and may take time to develop but working on this is essential. First impressions go a long way and my experience tells me these perceptions formed initially are difficult to change.
Being cognizant of this fact and treading cautiously and smartly right from the smart is important.
As I embark on a new journey I on my part would strive to put my best foot forward and avoid these mistakes.