Day 23,674: The Path Forward

Life is never in a straight line. Paths weave forward, backward, right, left, with U turns, twists and detours all along the way.  One might think life was a one way road, where you start at birth and just go forward until you die, but there is no clear, forward path.

There’s a common saying: “One step forward, two steps back.”  My experience has been more of “one step back and two steps forward.”  It started when I first took a step back from my second job to my third. That step back resulted in several promotions, solid pay raises, and some of the most creative, wonderful work times of my life with a super special team.

Then, I took a sidestep to try a slightly different career, with very little of a team to help me figure out the new role. It wasn’t a stunning success, but it ultimately gave me the street cred to move forward in what became the bulk of my career, but not before taking other steps back.

At one point I gave up a full time job to try part time work; I gave up a super career to just try something new; I stopped working for myself to go back to work for a company; I lost two jobs along the way; and I took a pay cut to just get back in the game.  So many steps back, and yet I’m in a very fine place  — not quite at the top of my career either in pay or responsibility; but in a very fine place nonetheless.

I gave a speech to a group of young women once on career planning. Know what I said?  You can’t plan your career. It’s a zig zag that hopefully lets you keep moving forward to meet new colleagues, learn from new mentors, and take on new challenges.

Related Entry: Mind The Gaps: Why My Skill Sets Have Cracks

I think my strength may be that I may not always be willing, but will ultimately go back to the beginning to start again. One reason is – I have no choice. That’s what happens when you gain weight, lose fluency in a language, get laid off, or have forgotten more than you once learned. It’s also because in some way, shape or form, I’ve usually missed some fundamentals, and my field just keeps changing. It’s what keeps it interesting, but it’s also what requires a constant look back as well as forward. And so, at some point ,you learn to just be ok where you are for now, because sometime soon you’re sure to be somewhere else, even if it’s not be where you planned.

Crone Wisdom: Sometimes you take steps back to just keep moving forward.  Sometimes you face two one way signs in the rain, and have to just go one way or the other to keep moving, because staying put is not an option. It’s just how it is.