My Biggest Career Mistake

Gender diversity

Quite some time ago I was offered my dream job. I was working for a global recruitment firm and I was asked to open a regional office in Asia and run the entire operation. At 26, I felt ready to take on the world.

Then why did I pass up on this amazing opportunity?

I had just gotten married to the love of my life and I had plans to start a family, one day. Not exactly then, but one day. It is funny how life actually works out but long story short. It took me another five years to conceive and have my baby.

So then why did I pass up on this amazing opportunity?

Have you heard of the saying “don’t leave before you leave?” Well I did just that. Sheryl Sandberg dedicated an entire chapter of her book to this. In it, she explores the concept that “women rarely make one big decision to leave the workforce. Instead, they make a lot of small decisions along the way, making accommodations and sacrifices that they believe will be required to have a family.”

I concur. I wasn’t ready to start a family right away but I knew I wanted to be a mother. So I put on hold my dream job and took what I thought was the safer route.

I am not alone. Along the years, I have met many women who have shared similar stories. Women who passed up on projects, greater responsibility and new opportunities all making small decisions along the way that they believed were required of them.

My girl is now four. As life turns out I went back to work when she was six months old and have managed my career and motherhood simultaneously. I won’t lie, parts of the journey have been hard. There have been plenty of tears, from both mother and daughter! But I made it work, for me. I often look back and think what my life would be like if I took that job. Where would I be in my career? What would I be doing? But a wise woman (my own mother) taught me not to dwell on yesterday and to always move forward.

The lesson I learnt was this. Don’t leave until you leave. Take your foot off the brakes. You are in the driver’s seat. ACCELERATE your career.  You never know what life may hold.

When the time eventually comes to make the call. You will do what is right for you.