Ever noticed how when folks talk about someone being "really successful," there's this unspoken consensus on what that looks like? It's like society handed us this blueprint: ace your exams, land a job at a big-name company, climb that career ladder, and hey presto, you've made it! But what if this cookie-cutter version of success feels a bit... off?
The traditional path: not one size fits all
Ah, the classic success roadmap. It's so clear-cut, right? From student life chasing top grades and prestigious colleges to the working world's pursuit of promotions and recognition. It's like a game with well-defined levels, and each level up is supposed to feel like a win. But here's the thing—what if leveling up doesn't quite give you that winner's buzz anymore?
More and more, I hear people saying the career ladder climb just isn't doing it for them. The choice between gunning for a senior role at the same place or jumping ship to a "bigger and better" company starts feeling like a stale menu. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
And then, stepping off this well-marked trail? Gosh, it's like deciding to wander off into the woods without a map. Scary, yes, but also kind of thrilling, right?
Is this daydreaming ?
Especially in tech, it's not uncommon to daydream about ditching it all to craft beautiful furniture, run a cozy bookstore, or maybe even farm your own food. And then there are those less drastic shifts—thinking about consulting, dipping your toes into the non-profit world, or taking time off to travel or be with family.
If the thought of continuing to climb the tech career ladder feels as appealing as stale bread, but you're not quite sure what's next, you're not alone. The big question is, how do you start figuring out what your own path looks like?
You'll need to define success on your own terms.
First off, let's talk values. When you're just going through the motions on the default path, it's easy to adopt society's favorite success markers as your own. But take a moment. What really matters to you? Maybe it's not the size of your paycheck or the prestige of your job title but things like integrity, community, or authenticity. Understanding your own values is like finding your North Star, guiding you through decisions big and small.
Next up, let's rethink the role of work in your life. For so many of us, especially those who've always been high achievers, the idea of not constantly striving for the next big thing feels alien and perhaps even wrong. But here's a thought: what if work was just one part of a fulfilling life, not the whole pie? Maybe for you, right now, work is about providing so you can focus on what truly lights you up outside the office.
Keep an eye out for what catches your interest and gives you energy. Maybe it's a job posting at a non-profit that aligns with your passions, or a friend's tales of freelance life that gives them the freedom to explore. These little sparks of interest can light the way to a path that feels more you and in line with what gives you energy rather than takes it day in and day out.
Choosing a path less traveled might raise some eyebrows and push-back. Expect a mix of skepticism and concern from those around you, especially from folks who are knee-deep in the traditional success narrative. Remember, their reactions are more about their own fears and insecurities than about your choices.