The Tipping Point of My Career


Is it me, or does it seem like as we get older we avoid what we don’t want in life, rather than go after what we do want?

I believe stress and over processing of information can have an effect on our thought process. A process that has become dominantly linear and rational based, where we no longer hear the inner voice meant to guide us to seek out changes towards personal evolution and happiness.   

By default, it is easier to recognize our fears of what we don’t want, which is unfortunately also what feeds anxiety and illness.

In my case, my motivation to act involved attempting to reverse and delay a situation of unsolicited change in the scope of my role at work.  I channeled all my energy into avoiding the change because:  

a)       I did not want to be perceived as unaspiring

b)      I did not want to be perceived as less competent than another

c)       I did not want to be perceived as having constraints due to parenthood

d)      I did not want the team of young women I had led over the years to feel discouraged to aspire for positions of leadership in their careers.   

Those are a lot of “not wants” and they became the source of unhealthy anxiety over the course of several months..

The Restructure..                                                                                                                      The company I was working for had gone through two very large back to back acquisitions and as often happens, structures are reviewed and reorganized to find redundancies (on top of the naturally occurring 1+1=2), to deliver even more synergies from integration.

In sum, my role in senior management in my department somehow became redundant, and I was offered a role of equal hierarchy and pay in a different division, or to take a demotion in title and function.

Does that sound fair or like coercion?  I tried to see it as something close to “fair” but instead of feeling grateful, I felt more like a product who had approached the “sell by” date and needed to be moved to a more convenient place, and less like a valued employee deserving of thoughtful and strategic career path development.

This contradiction began to haunt me, it became a “problem” that I had to solve, because of course- all problems must have solutions, right?    It took me some time to realize that this “problem” was in fact a gift.  I had become so intensely rooted in my seat on the hamster wheel and fixated on controlling the situation, that I did not realize I was on a train traveling in the wrong direction.

Yet still, I hesitated to make a final decision, until an unlikely combination of unusual circumstances aggravated my situation to a tipping point. By this, I mean the point where we finally allow ourselves the introspection to incite positive and major change.  For some, this point could be triggered by one single incident that pushes us to our limit of distress. For those more in tune with themselves, the experience could be a serendipitous combination of circumstances that open the eyes to new opportunities for growth. 

In my case, the tipping point was not enough and I still needed one more event to send it all crashing down. It was as if I held the gun in my hand, with my finger on the trigger, but couldn’t manage to pull it until one more final surprise left me with no more choice to make.   I’ll make a convoluted story short and sweet. 

I gave my resignation. To my surprise, on my very last day of employment I was offered a very interesting position in another department, and I accepted immediately.  Since I was due to start only a few days later with my future employer, I couldn’t wait for the pending formalities.  So, I took a calculated risk and cancelled with the other employer before finalizing the formalities for my new position.  

The joke was on me, because 3 days later-  the employee retention tactic I thought was being applied was formally RETRACTED.

 I’m now convinced that the intensity of the whack to get messages through, is directly proportionate to the intensity of our stubbornness and illusion of control.  I didn’t process the message the first time, so I had to receive it a second time with a whack so hard it almost knocked me down.  

The lesson, is that sometimes just knowing when to quit, is a victory in itself.  Nevertheless, I did finally receive the message, and this time understood it very clearly as a gift to allow me to find what is worth having.

This is my current mindset as I open myself to new career possibilities and personal development. A wise woman once said: “To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else”-Bernadette Devlin

My second point, is that it can be difficult to make a decision to close a door without the security of an awaiting open door.  Security is nice, but not always the right path towards development, and the reality is that the open door was likely to lead me back to the same room.                  

Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself; to stop, to gain perspective through re-examination of our choices to be driven by what we want, and not by what we want to avoid.  

And with this, we attract the magic of new beginnings..

Does anyone else have a lesson on knowing when to quit they would like to share?