Pivoting mid-career

Choosing the right career path for you.
Photo courtesy Freepik -
Choosing the right career path for you. Photo courtesy Freepik -

Jose-Ann Hackett

Dear AFETT,

Since I was a young woman, I dreamed of working in the field that I am now in.

However, after doing the needful – earning a degree and successfully qualifying for the position – I do not feel fulfilled at my job.

What advice do you have for someone whose dream job doesn't turn out to be what they expected?

Also, what steps can I take to re-ignite the flame that I once had for this role I worked so hard to achieve?

Dear Reader,

There is a quote by Prabal Gurung which says, "A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman, but a beautiful woman with a brain is an absolutely lethal combination."

While this quote is absolutely true and one that I stand by, I believe many women face the daunting reality you currently face, which can make them feel or appear less powerful or prevailing in their selected careers.

It is commendable that you knew what you wanted to do from a young age. I knew I wanted to be an attorney-at-law from the tender age of five.

However, as humans, we are creatures of change, and change is inevitable for growth. Sometimes we must experience a particular journey to realise that it is not what we expected or anticipated it to be.

Your current experience is much more common than you’d imagine, and it is not a death sentence despite having done the needful to be in the position that you are in now.

Pivoting mid-career may seem like an unnerving task. It may require you to start over, which can mean going back to school to obtain the necessary degree and qualifications.

Jose-Ann Hackett -

However, if you can find a way to make your current qualifications work for you and propel you in the direction you truly would like to go, pivoting can be more seamless than you think.

Once you have a degree, skill or qualification that is multifaceted, for example, law, business, communications or an innate talent in any area of cosmetology, you can morph those skills and qualifications into what you are truly passionate about by taking up space, elevating and making an impact. It is important as women that we try to make ourselves as marketable and liquid as possible in the corporate world so that we are not boxed in or compartmentalised into one area or arena.

Nevertheless, if you must start over altogether, it will take a leap of faith that must be taken for that long-term reward.

As with anything in life, starting over is never easy, especially when coupled with factors such as age, financial circumstances and frankly, the vicissitudes of life.

Starting over would require that you bite the bullet, and according to the tagline of the famous sports brand Nike, "Just do it!"

Furthermore, even in your current position, never stop learning and advancing in skill and academia. This way, you can make any pivot you desire seamlessly and avoid starting over per se.

Often when a career path is chosen, there is seldom a thorough evaluation of the desired career path to be embarked upon.

Many women or people in general choose a career path only by looking at the incentives, whether financial or otherwise.

While there is nothing wrong in focusing on the incentives to be gained from a particular career path, having incentives as the sole reason for entering into a career path will most definitely lead to a myriad of disappointments when those incentives are not gained, take some time to be achieved or quite frankly don’t satisfy the deeply rooted desire for more.

The principal at my alma mater would frequently remind students at assembly, "Remember why you are here."

It is a phrase I have applied to my life especially when embarking on my career as an attorney.

To paraphrase for this given situation, "Remember why you are doing this."

It is important to understand why you are doing anything and have that be your guide or reference point when you feel unfulfilled or like giving up.

To understand why you are doing anything, especially career-wise, you must do a full evaluation of the career path you are desiring to enter.

You are as a person, your strengths, likes, dislikes, core beliefs and any accompanying incentives are all necessary to create that sound reason for everything that you do, including entering a career path. Such a holistic approach will anchor you and be a catalyst to re-igniting any lost flame for your chosen career.

Networking

Networking and creating a support system of people who are on a similar career path can also re-ignite that flame for the career that you worked so hard for.

Your networking should extend to people who are advanced in your field and senior to you as well as those on your level and those on their way up.

Extending your networking circle to reach all three levels will allow you to be inspired to where you want to be, encourage and be encouraged by those on your level and motivate others who are on their way up.

Navigating through any chosen career path comes with its ebbs and flows.

As far as possible, commit to love what you do, aim to be impactful in your space and if something is no longer serving you, it is acceptable to step back, assess the circumstances, and pivot if need be to achieve your fullest potential as a professional woman in society.

This article was submitted by the Association of Female Executives of TT (AFETT).

AFETT is a non-profit organisation formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, training and business development.

Ask AFETT is brought to you by the Research and Public Advocacy team and addresses issues and concerns of executive and entrepreneurial professionals.

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