Happy New Year!
With the turn of a new year, many people take advantage of this reset by taking a fresh look at their goals. I am no different. I usually buy a fancy planner, and other resources to help me evaluate what went well in the prior year, what did not, and what I want to happen this year spanning the areas of health & wellness, finances, career, family/home, relationships, spirituality, etc. I have also been known to create vision boards (okay, I've only done them twice and usually sometime in February, but I have had amazing results). In taking this comprehensive approach, I find that there is always one area that comes with an enormous amount of weight (and sometimes confusion): CAREER!
Career is the area that can be both the birthplace of our wildest dreams or the grave in which they lie to rest.
I struggled for years with career or job dissatisfaction while working as an auditor. I couldn't believe I'd excelled all through grade school, loaded myself up in student loan debt, became the first in my family to graduate from college, and accepted an offer with one of the Big 4 accounting firms, just to sit in a windowless audit room with no cell reception and draw red marks on documentation that the client finally had turned over to me after weeks of my persistent harassment. Did anyone else's first job after college cause them to question everything they've been told about the promise of their degree?
I thought I had signed up for a glorious life of consulting--traveling around the country (and sometimes outside of it), staying at lavish hotels, sauntering around to meetings in sleek heels and pencil skirts to learn about companies' business models and operations in order to help them solve their most complex problems, all before dinner at the city's finest steak house (paid for with my corporate card in my LV wallet, of course).
Instead, I had been commuting 3+ hours a day from Long Island to my client's (a financial institution) back-office operations office in Brooklyn, only to be treated as public enemy #1 by everyone there, except the two Black guys that joked on each other all day as they worked to make sure the thousands of trades were clearing in T+3 days. They would pause to flirt with me, which usually looked like wasting my time--requiring me to make repeated trips to their desk to coax missing information from them, joining in on their office banter. This quickly became the highlight of the otherwise dreadfully boring months of rejection and isolation in the dungeon with my team of four.
I was the only Black person on the team. My Blackness may not have been as much of a chasm as my working style (though that too was informed by my lived experienced). My team didn't much appreciate my declining to join them for lunch and breaks after sitting side-by-side for 10+ hours per day in this team room. I would rather spend my lunch break checking in with my friends and the outside world and you know, breathing away from the gaze of these people that barely spoke to me except to instruct me on some work matter. In fact, I thought they could stand to take a few less breaks so we could get through this work and get the hell up out of here. Do they not have anything else to do besides stay at work?
My wardrobe wasn't even as stylish as I imagined it to be, often opting for practicality over fashion, and uninspired by my drab surroundings.
My life was a New York City shade of grey and the life I wanted seemed to be bursting with bright, bold colors by comparison...
...if only I could start over. If only I knew which one of the 50 career interests I should pursue.
After 9 years of performing and trying to find job satisfaction within the parameters of the company I was at, I hit my rock bottom on Friday, January 20, 2017, Inauguration Day. A very dark few months led me to the panic attack to end all panic attacks (I hope). There, I made the decision that living and parenting under the weight of work-induced depression and anxiety was far worse than the financial implications and uncertainty of starting over.
It was time for me to live on purpose, by any means necessary.
As I charted this new course of exploring the limitless opportunities and narrowing down to the one or two career paths I would like to pursue next, guess what I found out...
I didn't have to start from the bottom or take a salary cut to transition into a purpose-driven career.
With intentional positioning of my past experience and the value that I would bring given my non-traditional experience (read: barely any directly relevant paid work experience), I was able to successfully transition from Auditor to Corporate Vice President of Diversity of Inclusion at a Fortune 100 Financial Institution.
I would like to share the steps that I took to do just that, so here it is:
Let's take one step toward living more intentionally in 2021.