Better late than never
My advice? Don't delay joy.
I’m what you might call a late bloomer, professionally speaking.
Though I started working directly after college (read: a few decades ago), it wasn’t until relatively more recently that I truly put my talents to their highest and best use as a writer.
In that space, I’ve been:
An aspiring filmmaker (who failed to get a job as one after graduation)
A do-it-all marketing and PR assistant at a small firm
An advertising executive (I’m really good with people and understand and can translate the languages of creative and strategy between ad teams and clients)
A branding consultant (similar to above)
The CEO of a destination marketing organization (formerly known as a convention and visitors bureau)
An industry liaison working for California’s travel and tourism entity
An organizational consultant
An interim CEO
A mystery to my parents, who never quite understood what I did (and still don’t)
A highly successful yet miserably unfulfilled professional
I know what it’s like to be great at something, have YOY growth, consistently exceed goals, build a fabulous team, have happy and engaged clients… and wonder why it wasn’t enough.
I was looking in all the wrong places (aka professional roles), and deep down, I knew it.
Though I rationalized it with lots of legit-sounding excuses (“It’s predictable income,” “You can’t travel for work now that you have kids”), they were cop-outs.
The biggest reason for me not pursuing my writing career sooner was that notorious f-word: FEAR.
Fear of failure. Success. Judgment.
My internal monologue fed my imposter syndrome and made me question why I would have the audacity to think that I could ever make it as a writer.
Despite that, I still wrote consistently, if only for myself. As you’ve likely gleaned by now, I’m a highly expressive person, and writing is my prime outlet.
Slowly, I started to share my work, and slowly I began to gain some traction. People took notice and, shockingly, kinda liked it. I even had a writer whom I greatly admired encourage me, as did my professional connections.
I wish I could tell you that I was such an evolved human that I didn’t require any outside validation, but let’s be real: when the thing you want most begins to seem within reach, you’ll take all the help you can get.
It took a lot for me to finally take the leap, but my writer friend finally stated the obvious: “Amy, you’re a writer, and you need to write.”
Fast forward to today, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m so much happier and truly feel aligned and fulfilled.
This later bloomer wants to offer two pieces of advice:
Don’t delay joy.
It’s never too late to become who you were always meant to be.
(Read those again.)
If you’re now where I was years ago, pondering your professional future, you’re not alone.
According to Prudential’s latest Pulse of the American Worker survey, half of all workers say that the pandemic has made them reevaluate their career goals.
Here’s how to conduct a post-pandemic career check-in:
Start with clarity 🎯
What do you want? Finding clarity on what matters most to you takes thoughtful introspection, and sometimes, a reality check: do you really want _____, and are you willing to do what it takes to achieve it? Clarity demands specificity; the more focused you can be about your goals, the better.
Audit, assess, and align 🤔
Once you’re clear on what you want, you need to align your goals with a plan to achieve them — and stay away from the things that can derail you. Audit how and with whom you’re spending your time and determine whether it’s supporting your goals. If not, let it go.
Ensure that you’ve positioned yourself for success ✅
If your intended audiences can’t quickly understand you, what you offer, your value, what differentiates you, and how you can help them, you’ll confuse — or lose— them. Position yourself for success by updating your LinkedIn profile’s career story, removing anything out-of-date or irrelevant, and adding information that supports your goals and sells your destiny, not your history.
Now, the flip side of this is that many people will join the “Great Resignation” and leave their current jobs to seek new roles, especially if their existing workplaces are less than ideal. (Read: stressful, non-inclusive, and unsupportive of work-life needs.)
The good news is that if you’re a business leader, embracing a specific soft skill* can help you retain your team members and make them more innovative and productive.
In my latest Forbes article, I share why a recent study suggests that empathy is no longer a “nice to have” for leaders; it’s a strategic imperative.
P.S. Hey, did you know I share fresh new content (with occasional #TBT pieces) Monday-Friday across the interwebs? Get first dibs by following me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, and on Forbes to get notified of my new articles.
P.P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or busy blooming late, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
P.P.P.S. One more thing: I absolutely love your taste in newsletters—thanks for subscribing! 😉 Be sure to check out the archives to catch up on previous issues and feel free to share this one with your friends. Or better yet, invite them to join our Illuminate Me tribe!
*Are you a fan of soft skills? (Side note: Horrible name. They should definitely rebrand them as “power skills” or, at the very least, “human skills.” But I digress.) This Forbes piece kicks off a new multi-week series of articles covering the range of soft skills and how to cultivate and apply them to your career. (And bonus: As an Illuminate Me subscriber, you’ll see them here first.)