Professional Life: You Have It Together More Than You Think
Professional life can be difficult to navigate.
I personally find it hard because I find that I can’t put a finger on what exactly it is that I want. I have MANY wants, but it seems close to impossible to satisfy all of them.
Things that I want in my professional life:
- Job Security
- High Pay
- Low Stress
- Work-life balance
- Decision-making power
- Opportunities for advancement
- Lifelong learning – education, certification programs, etc
These are just a few of the things that are important to me in my professional life. I often hear people say “you can’t have it all,” which although I find it to be somewhat true, hearing it, as an ambitious person can be discouraging.
I think Oprah Winfrey put it best, when she said “You Can Have It All. Just Not All at Once.”
In thinking along those lines, I’m able to be a little bit more fair in my self-evaluations.
There are some things on that list that I currently feel I’ve achieved for the time being, and there are others that seem far off, or at least not practical right now.
I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how to stay sane in our professional lives.
Don’t Overload Yourself
Every year, I add just a little more to my already heavy plate.
I was confiding in a good girlfriend from school about how I would like more responsibility in my current work position, and how I felt that I should be learning more. She listened to my whole rant (thanks sis), and then said “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” She emphasized that I was already so busy dealing with the stress of managing work, home and school and now the blog. She suggested that maybe I should speak with a career counselor, but to be careful that I don't add too much more to my workload, as I might be shooting myself in the foot trying to take on more.
I really took that to heart, because so often I’m obsessed with setting goals for myself. Too often I ignore the fact that I have more than enough going on right now. I don't need to overexert myself and end up crashing and burning.
Move At Your Own Pace
I had another conversation with one of my close friends, and she expressed some discontentment with taking longer than her peers to finish her undergrad program. I honestly never knew that she felt that way. Everyone moves differently, you know. Some people take breaks after high school before going to college to get some real world experience, and some people don’t even go to college. I graduated undergrad in 2012, and I didn’t start grad school until 2016. Most people told me that if you don’t go right back to school after college, you’ll most likely never go back. I waited 4 years. People are well-meaning, but they don't have all of the answers.
It sucks that we’re always expected to adhere to certain time frames. What works for you may not work for me, and vice versa. My current MBA program allows students some flexibility to take off time if needed. You can complete the part time program in as little as 2.5 years, but you can take up to 7 years, if needed. As for Angela, I’m trying to be up out of this school as quickly as possible, but I think it’s great that students have options. Life happens, people have kids, people experience traumatic events, and sometimes people just need a break. Whatever it is, don’t feel that you’ve failed because you started or finished later than others. In the long run, it really doesn’t matter.
Forget About Other People’s Opinions
People love telling you where you should be in life, or what they think your next move should be. I’m always open to receiving advice, but not everyone’s perspective really needs to be taken into consideration. I feel like the professional life/journey is so unique to each person, because we all have different goals and priorities. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people assign importance or value to others just because of the degrees and titles they have. A degree doesn't make you more or less.
A lot of us went to college simply because we were told that was the next logical progression after high school. Several years after graduating, many people are not even working in fields related to their Bachelor's. I know some people who feel bad for not "working in their fields." There’s some shame behind not doing what your parents or extended family had expected you to do when you decided on a major at 18. Honestly I don’t think I knew what exactly I wanted to do in my life at 18. Let’s just be real. I didn’t even know what life was. Allow yourself to move how you want to move, and pursue those endeavors that make you feel fulfilled.
I was inspired to write this because I really want for women to be a little less critical of themselves. We already have so much to deal with. Let’s not over-complicate our lives trying to do too much at one time. Let's not put ourselves down for not moving at a pace that’s not aligned with who we are. And finally, we MUST stop taking everyone else’s opinions as bible.