Friday, April 29, 2016

Coffee + Conversation: When Goals Evolve


Some days I wake up and think how did I get here? Wasn't I just five-years-old pretending to be a teacher? Somewhere around age 11, I decided I would go to law school. And I did. And now I'm practicing law at a Fortune 500 company, but it took some meandering to get there. As a child, I never thought I'd touch Human Resources or Internal Audit, but each of those roles taught me a ton! Working in HR was such a fun and awesome way to transition into the corporate world. As a Generalist, you support different departments in the company with everything from recruiting to employee engagement. I was able to learn a lot of about the value of human capital. I also had the benefit of learning from wonderful female leaders and making awesome friends. After two years, I was ready for something different and a wonderful colleague encouraged me to seek out Internal Audit. That sounded strange to me given my background was legal and not finance, but our IA department plays a strong role in compliance and regulatory matters. Although my tenure with the team was only six-months, I was taught so much from such a high-caliber group. Prior to my maternity leave, I had transitioned to the legal department as a Real Estate Attorney. That gave me just enough time to meet some key people and get acquainted with the jargon and process, and I am eager to get back to the grind and learn more. 

But did you ever pipe dreams? You know - those dreams that you'd follow if "x,y, or z" wasn't the case? I love my job, so this discussion is not intended to be construed as regrets as much as it is a fun way to entertain "what if..." If I had not taken the path I am on now, I would likely have pursued journalism. I might have gone to DC to work on a campaign as a lowly intern. I might have figured out how to become the next host of E! News. I might have taken sewing lessons and competed on Project Runway. I might have moved to Manhattan to be someone's slave at a fashion magazine. I might have started my own business - a coffee shop or a clothing boutique...or both. I might have auditioned for a role on a TV show. And why didn't I? Because practicalities matter to some degree. First, I am a homebody. I love my city and I love my family, so uprooting has always seemed unfathomable. The idea of traveling alone to a new city and making new friends has always existed in the fantasy realm for me. Also, many of those ambitions are high-risk/ high-cost. There's a high likelihood I wouldn't succeed at any of it, so I chose a career path that I could control to some degree. I've always played it safe, and I've had success doing that. The other issue is that I am interested in about 500 different things (see above). 

What I am saying is that I don't practice what I preach. I hope Eila is better able to isolate her passions and go after them, even if they don't have an immediate payoff. Not all payoffs are monetary. Many are experiential. You can learn something anywhere, even if it means learning what doesn't work for you. And there's value in that. I played it safe because I appreciate the balance and predictability it provides me. My job allows me to be a family-girl. My job allows me to plan vacations. So, playing it safe has its upside. Decide what you crave. Envision your ideal future and ask yourself if you're on the proper road to get there. Don't go broke trying it, but start planning now to create the life that best defines your passion. Passions will keep you warm at night and moving all day. I feel very lucky to be going back to work on Monday to a place I respect, with people I enjoy, and with work I find worthwhile. If I am going to leave this sweet little girl for 40-hours per week, it had better be for something I love. 

Maternity leave was fun! But it's time to re-engage. I could not be more excited! 

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