Ditching the Past and Building Your Future
Tips To Take Charge of Your Career
Written by Taly Matiteyahu (CEO of Blink, an audio-first blind speed dating app)
From my freshman year of high school onward, my dream was to be a lawyer. I knew that making my dream come true would lead to professional success and assumed that it would also lead to personal happiness. Yet after years filling my resume with notable jobs, earning my Juris Doctorate from an Ivy League university, passing the bar exam, and getting a job at a top-tier law firm in New York City, I realized that making my dream come true also resulted in making myself unhappy. It turned out that I didn’t enjoy being a lawyer at all.
My unhappiness was all encompassing, extending beyond my work life and into my personal life. I found myself unmotivated and uninterested, doing the bare minimum to get by. Having been a type-A person my entire life, my sub-standard commitment to work made me question my work ethic, my capabilities, and my self-worth.
After a lot of soul searching, self-doubt, and rejection from various jobs for being both overqualified and underqualified, I got my chance to escape and left my secure and well-paying job as a lawyer for a career in legal operations at a tech company. I took a huge pay cut and sacrificed the stable career path that lay ahead of me, but am so happy I did. Fast forward four years and I’m now a proud “recovering lawyer” who works as a product manager for a legal tech startup during the day and hustles to launch Blink, an audio-first blind speed dating app, by night.
If you find yourself similarly unhappy in a career, it might be time to pivot. But...that’s far easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you take charge of your career and overcome the challenges you’ll inevitably face.
I remember trying to convince myself to give my job just one more chance, to wait a little longer to see if I’d start to enjoy it. But the truth is, if you don’t like your work, it’s unlikely that you’ll suddenly start liking it… unless it fundamentally changes. So rather than talk yourself down, accept your feelings.
This was one of the hardest parts of the process for me. I thought my lack of interest and motivation for my work meant that I was lazy. Eventually, I realized my lack of desire to do that specific job didn’t mean I was a slacker — it just meant that I needed to apply my skills and passion elsewhere. So if you’re feeling guilty for doing a half-assed job at something you hate, don’t — of course you won’t want to give it your all. It is not a reflection of who you are.
After years of telling everyone “I want to be a lawyer,” I was super anxious about what they would say and think after I bailed on being a lawyer after only a year and a half. While some people might think you “failed,” the reality is that choosing to leave your current path for a new one is incredibly brave.
We’re raised to see our careers as part of our self identity, such that leaving a career path behind can feel like “giving up.” For some careers, it might also mean stepping away from what was an investment, both in terms of time studying and tuition paid to attain a degree. But choosing to leave something you know you dislike to move towards something that will suit you better is not giving up. Indeed, it’s proactive and a promising indication that you just need to find the right outlet for your time and passion, both of which are plentiful.
Alright, so you hate your current job, but are afraid of leaving it for something else and hating that too. I won’t sugarcoat it - it’s possible that would happen. But is that possibility a good enough reason to continue doing something you already know you dislike? Especially since the alternative possibility is that you might like or even love what comes next? Besides, whatever you end up doing next doesn’t have to be the thing you end up doing forever. In the end, each choice we make, each thing we try, is a stepping stone on our journey to finding what we love.
If you aren’t sure what you want to do, talk to people! Use networking tools like LinkedIn and LunchClub to meet people who do different things and ask them what they like and dislike about their jobs. If it doesn’t resonate with you, cool – you’ve ruled something out. If it does, see if you can try dabbling in work tasks that can let you try out what they do (e.g. if they’re a designer, do a free online design course; if they’re a writer, try a writing challenge). This is your chance to explore!
Switching careers can be scary and there’s a lot of uncertainty – what will I do, how much money will I make, will I like it, will I feel fulfilled, what will people say – the questions and anxiety can be overwhelming.
Don’t let fear of the unknown paralyze you into maintaining the status quo. As silly as it may sound, embrace the possibilities that the unknown holds and use it as a blank slate to start writing your own story.
Tips To Take Charge of Your Career Tips To Take Charge of Your Career Tips To Take Charge of Your Career Tips To Take Charge of Your Career
Tips To Take Charge of Your Career