CHOOSE THE RIGHT CAREER
You’ve heard it before: When you are in the right career and in an environment that lets you thrive, what you do each day isn’t work; it’s passion. For the lucky women who live this reality, the guilt and doubt that can arise from privileging work over family often becomes less of an issue. As a result, they are often not driven to pause. In fact, for them pausing can feel like a burden.
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Consider the 28 percent of Women on the Rise respondents who did NOT pause their career. One of the key reasons they never slowed down professionally was because they loved their jobs. As one survey respondent said, “If you love what you do, why would you ever want to stop doing it?”
What is hidden in the stories of so many women who have paused their careers is that their first career wasn’t the right one for them. Pausing for parenthood was the opportunity for them to step back and assess what they wanted professionally. As we saw in chapter 2, for many pausing was a much-needed opportunity to pivot their careers.
“My pause allowed me to reflect on who I am, what matters to me, and how I want to explore, cultivate, and express that through my work,” one Women on the Rise respondent shared.
Another said, “I realized I had the confidence I didn’t have earlier in my life to pursue work that I could be passionate about, not just work I fell into.”
Their sentiments are not unique. But because career pauses are not seen as part of an overall plan or even part of a journey to find the right career, the power of the time away from the paid workforce is devalued. In reality, for women who pivot, leaving the workforce and their previous careers are often a critical part of their journeys to find the right professional path.
Consider women like Kriste Michelini, who left her job in software sales and became an interior designer; or Mary Page Platerink, who left a senior-level position at Coca-Cola and became an entrepreneur; or Patricia Nakache, who went from consulting to venture capital—the list goes on and on. Each of these women had achieved success in their previous work, but they weren’t truly fulfilled. They left because, when they weighed the scales, time with their children felt significantly more meaningful than time at a job that didn’t inspire them Their pause was the break between two disparate paths.
No question there are long stretches of careers that can be a grind. Just like there are long stretches of caring for children that can be a grind. Neither will bring joy and inspire passion each and every day. And certainly, this is not to say one is more or less important than the other. This is only to say that when you are in the right career you are more likely to weather those tedious and frustrating days with resilience because the meaning you derive from your work over time is as important and as rich as the meaning you derive from your children. When that’s the case, leaving your career simply doesn’t make sense.
The right career is waiting. It’s up to you to find it. Better to find it before you have children so you can be one of the lucky women who don’t feel the strong desire to pause because the deep rewards of their work are too hard to give up.