Everyone is all about sharing advice via memes and quotes on social media for the new year. You've probably read about a thousand Instagram posts all about new year resolutions and goals and plans. Likewise, you've likely seen countless Facebook statuses about career aspirations for the new year.
While all of this talk can be inspirational, it can also be hugely stressful. "Land your dream job!" "Make more money!" "Cook up a perfect career plan!" You don't need to have the same new year goals as everyone else.
Forget the traditional career advice that's littered your thoughts and held you back over the years. Let 2020 be the year for you. This year, these seven pieces of advice won't serve you.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't need a job with which you're head over heels in love. While it'd be great to work a job that doesn't feel like work (though, news flash: some days, work does feel like work, even if you enjoy it!), being passionate about your career doesn't necessarily make you totally happy or successful. Finding your dream job just isn't enough. That's because, yes, there is more to you than your job — and having a balance of all the factors that make up who you are (your job, your family, your hobbies, your studies, etc.) is what will make you happiest and, ultimately, successful.
So don't sweat trying to have the "perfect" job in 2020; some women just work for paychecks to support their lifestyles, and they're doing great. Don't believe us? Hear it from them.
Would making more money in the new year be wonderful? Sure. But money doesn't buy you happiness. You don't necessarily need to continue making more and more money just to feel successful. (Some people, of course, do need to make more money to support themselves and their families — and if you're one of those people, we hope that asking for a raise is in your 2020 cards!).
If you're fortunate enough to be at a place in life of having what you need, though, perhaps making more money is incidental in the context of your bigger goals. Maybe your true goal is to finish a project about which you're super passionate or develop a new skill or gain more experience — all of which can also earn you more money. But the money itself doesn't have to be what drives you.
It's easy to feel like a failure if you're not moving on up in your company. The "American Dream" tells us that you have to get a job, put in your time, get a promotion and become a leader in order to become successful. But some people are perfectly content doing exactly what they're doing — and that's OK, too!
In fact, women who aren't striving for families or careers spoke to us about how ideal their lives are just the way they are.
Lateral moves aren't up the ladder, but they're moves nonetheless — and lateral moves are increasingly common. While hopping around various jobs at the same level may not help advance your career, it's also sometimes necessary to make a lateral move. You may need experience or skills that this move can teach you in order to move up down the line. Maybe you want to switch industries, and a lateral move is the only move you can make because you're not equipped to move up. Maybe a lateral move in your company will make you happier if you don't love your department, team or work. While a lateral move can feel stagnant, it's a step toward something — and it's up to you to decide what that something will be.
Taking a pay cut isn't ideal. That's true for everyone. But taking a pay cut in exchange for other benefits or a better, different career can be ideal. While it'd be best to earn the same salary (or more!) and make a move to enhance your career, sometimes you have to work with what you can get. Tons of women quit their jobs for ones that pay less for a whole host of reasons.
A long-term career plan might feel comforting and can motivate you to reach your goals. Setting goals for yourself, after all, is hugely important. But it's OK to not have a long-term plan for yourself. Frankly, life happens and long-term plans change anyway. So have an idea of the career you want and then set smaller, feasible goals for yourself so you check off your aspirations one step at a time. Your plans will inevitably change over the course of time and possibly even throughout 2020 alone, and that's just the nature of life.
People are afraid of the unknown. That's why it's scary to quit your job to travel or quit to start a family or quit to build a business of your own. What happens if no one takes you seriously then when you try to re-enter the workforce? What happens if your business fails and then you're left with nothing (besides, you know, experience)?
The truth is that no one gets anywhere in life without taking risks, and 2020 is as good a time as ever to go after what you really want and change your life for the better (or worse, but you'll never know until you try!).
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.
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