If you have followed my journey thus far (or are new to my life), you may have asked yourself what makes someone walk away from a successful consulting career to start their own company? Was it burnout? Did I become tired of the lifestyle? Did the politics become too much? Did I have a quarter life crisis?
If you’re new or need a refresher of what this all is about, I recently founded a new company called The Weekend Sabbatical. It's a 5 day personal development experience helping professionals to recharge and step back to evaluate how they can grow in their careers.
To understand why I created The Weekend Sabbatical, you’ll first need a picture into some of the puzzle pieces of my life. The bigger pieces of The Weekend Sabbatical story revolve around the how and why I became a consultant in the first place. Other pieces of the puzzle include how traveling played an important role in my consulting career and why empowering other professionals became such an important aspect of my life.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, 6 years ago where my experience as a college student reflects a narrative that is not uncommon amongst college students today. Throughout my collegiate career, my focus was on getting top grades, because that is how I was conditioned to measure my worth and prove my intelligence. As I embarked on graduation, I got a phone call that provided me with all of the validation that I had been seeking throughout the last four years - I was offered a position as a Business Technology Analyst at Deloitte. Alas, here was my reward for my hours of studying, competitive internships, and hours spent engaging in tricky time management conundrums. I had made it. I would be someone important. It was all figured out, and hey, if I could just stick out this gig, I’d be pretty well-off in no time. (If you’ve read Carol Dweck’s Mindset before, then you could easily associate this mentality with a “fixed” mindset.)
It didn’t take long for the metaphorical air to slowly leak out of my balloon of excitement, gradually bringing me back down to earth. The glamor of consulting quickly wore off within my first year and I experienced an existence characterized by burnout and self-doubt as I regularly found myself considering what I could do next. As my consulting experience grew, I began to realize that although money is essential, having financial wealth was not commensurate with happiness in quite the fashion I had previously imagined. Early promotions and all, that one time fire that had burned so bright had started to fade.
At some point, I began to shift my efforts from fantasizing about career growth and prestige to considering the things that mattered to me most. How could I find more purpose in my daily life? What do I value? What brings me passion and engagement? Classic #millennial questions that so many of us often ask ourselves.
To ponder on these topics and retrospect on my career, I started taking annual solo adventure trips around the world. Traveling had always been a passion of mine and what better way to step back and retrospect than doing it while traveling to a new city, with new people, and a new culture. If there’s a takeaway from my time in consulting, it’s how invaluable these trips were for personal growth – cultural immersion and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone by traveling on my own while consistently giving myself a much needed mental recharge.
The Weekend Sabbatical was born at the intersection of some of my passion areas - traveling, getting outside of my comfort zone, and empowering other people towards their own success in the workplace. Like many other Millennials, I too, admittedly, got too caught up in climbing the corporate ladder. As I continued to carrot chase towards the next promotion, I found that my daily experience lacked fulfillment. I experienced dissonance between my internal values and the nature of the work I was engaging in.
By now as a reader, you have hopefully gotten the sense of vulnerability from some of this story. Here’s three more things that you should also know. First - It took more courage than I ever thought possible to admit that I wasn’t quite as happy as my Instagram posts had made me look. Second - that I had become comfortable -- with my salary, the glitz of being a consultant, and with the certainty that existed in what appeared to be a clear career trajectory in my future. And when I say clear, I mean it. I had mapped out what it would take to make it to the top of the consulting food chain. Simultaneously, I became afraid (the third). Afraid to go for what I wanted in my life. Afraid to walk away from the life I had created. Afraid to pursue my dreams, as doing so would mean stepping into the unknown, which felt overwhelmingly scary.
I started The Weekend Sabbatical because I'm passionate about empowering other professionals to help them to grow and take the next steps in their careers. Too often, I see friends, colleagues, or other professionals who are unsure how they can truly grow and navigate to the next phase of their career or are unsure of what comes next. Other times it’s unhappy professionals that are unsatisfied with their day to day lives or struggling with how to add a sense of purpose or fulfillment to their daily work activities. Professionals need an outlet to take a step back from the workplace to recharge, reflect, and have an honest conversation about their careers, the direction they'd like to be going in, and how they can grow in their current and future roles. When searching for personal development program, there are few if any that focus on not only helping professionals to evaluate how they can grow in their career but also creating a tangible plan of action to make it happen.
I'll leave readers with one final thought. We're always going to be too busy to address the “what comes next for me?” and “how do I take this job to the next level” questions and take the actions to do something about it. We push off this discussion and continue in our day to day of feeling content, unsure of what comes next, or even remain unhappy, unfulfilled, and continue a sometimes vicious circle that we create for ourselves.
It took me 5 years of my professional life to address these areas head on and admit to myself and others the false sense of happiness in my career. The “what comes next for me” question became apparent over time and manifested itself into The Weekend Sabbatical – an opportunity to really empower, benefit, and make an impact for other professionals in their careers.
If our careers are our lives, then what's it going to take for you to take a step back and have this honest conversation about your career and how you can take things to the next level? This is the awakening. It's time to rediscover our purpose in the workplace and take back control of our professional journeys by gaining clarity in our careers.