When you started working, did you know that there is such a thing as a mid-career crisis, otherwise known as a career plateau? I didn’t. At least, I had no idea that there would be a time in my life that I would begin to realize that sometimes what works for you in the beginning of your career may not work for you as life progresses onward.
The realization of a career plateau can sometimes be overwhelming, but thinking through things and formulating a plan of action can help curb any issues that come out of the situation.
When I was 24-years-old, I landed a rockin’ job as a marketing specialist in ed-tech.
I had spent many a year after college just floating by, trying to find that job that gave me financial stability, insurance, and an ever-coveted 401(k). It was a start-up company with great revenue potential and a rapidly expanding market that swept me off my feet. My role was part of a small marketing team that supported sales in several ways, which meant we were in constant motion as business grew and demand spread. From traveling to conferences to being involved with overall branding, no two days were alike. And it was invigorating!
But, as time went on, my personal situation changed.
I was no longer a 24-year-old single individual in the bustle of the city, but rather a 28-year-old expectant mother noticing that the lack of promotion and raise potential in my current role was now an issue as my responsibilities grew from caring for one to caring for two. It was then that I also realized that I had been in a role for nearly four years and things had grown stagnant. I was clocking in and out without a feeling of satisfaction for who knows how long. What else had I not noticed?
The answer came when I asked myself the following questions:
Am I fulfilled and do I feel challenged?
Does my position have incentives that would keep me in my role?
Is it the role in the company that I've outgrown or have I simply outgrown my environment?
If I walk today, would I miss what I have been doing?
Once I had the answers in mind, I realized what I really needed and what I was willing to do to reach my overall goals.
I knew I had felt unfulfilled for awhile in my day-to-day tasks and had strived for more, but was never able to take on more responsibility because my role had become more structured. I knew that because of this, I would only be able to get the general adjustments to pay each year, which I could not live off comfortably with a new child. I also realized that my lack of fulfillment came with boredom. And at times, I just didn’t want to be in the office, at my desk, and looking at the same people everyday.
So, after four years, I decided to take some time for myself.
I took on freelance roles for different small businesses, something I always enjoyed doing even when I had a full-time position. I spent time with my newborn. As a first time mom, I knew I would never have an opportunity to bond with my son like that again, despite the strain of finances. I researched and took my time to find a new and permanent role — and it was the best thing I ever did.
I realized that my idea of having a job had changed throughout the years.
When I was younger, it was just about landing a job with benefits and being able to get by and pay bills. As an older adult heading towards my thirties, I realized I wanted more and had a lot to offer to a new venture. Now, as a full-time business developer and specialist, I get to work in tech once again. But this time, I work with a passionate bunch of people that promote diversity and inclusion for education and business. My past experiences are helping shape my role as I learn the strategies and goals for a new company. As a bonus I work from home, which helps me balance my roles from mommyhood to business.
Ultimately, leaving my job — even though nothing was "wrong" — worked in my favor. Life is short, but your time working is long. So, do yourself a favor and figure out what works best for you.
Marissa Ackerman is a WFHM educating the masses on the importance of diversity and inclusion as a business developer for a diversity learning organization, a published writer supporting STEM education, and prides herself for being a life-long learner.