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For many, the definition of success is “climbing the ladder” – earning various promotions or seeking new, higher-level positions in a similar field outside your organization – but what if something changes?  What if that upward path is no longer satisfying, engaging, or meaningful to you?  Does that equal a failure?

I loved what Sheryl Sandberg wrote in Lean In – that careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.  That people can (and should!) explore multiple trajectories, moving up, down, or sideways as our goals and ideals for our careers change.  And many companies are taking note of this phenomenon by offering career rotations, special projects, and cross-functional teams.  Offering opportunities for growth and development that are not on a traditional “path” can lead to a more excited and engaged workforce.

Career transitions have historically been viewed as a negative but if the result of a transition leads to more motivation, higher engagement, and greater productivity – we need to reframe our perspective.  If you want to take charge of your next transition, the Strong Interest Inventory is an assessment tool that can provide insight into potential careers that align with your own unique interests.  Conventionally, this is an assessment used with high school or college aged students to help decide on a major, but I encourage anyone who is feeling unfulfilled in a current position or unsure about a next step to take this assessment to gain self awareness and potentially transition into a role that more closely aligns with your intrinsic interests.

From a very young age we’re asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up”?  I know for me, my answer changed; as I got older I transitioned from the totally attainable goal of becoming a movie star to wanting to be a veterinarian to choosing my psychology major in order to become a therapist.  Though I could argue the therapist role is not that far off from HR, none of those early goals for me were realized, and that’s okay!  Once we begin our careers, however, there’s an expectation that our answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” stay the same.  And how unfair is that?  Humans are multi-dimensional, ever-changing creatures with varied interests and hobbies – why must our careers stay on a boring, upward path and limit ourselves to one field?

Take charge of your career and do yourself the favor of pursuing roles that align with your interests and goals, whatever they may be at the time, and allow yourself the flexibility to change over time.

Purple Ink will soon be offering the Strong Interest Inventory in order to help you realize a fulfilling next step in your career!

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is Purple Ink’s Director of Client Services and is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Catherine has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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