If there was anything positive that has come out of this pandemic, it is that it has allowed me to reflect and focus on where I currently am in my HR career. It has been nearly 18 years when I decided to leave my job and previous career at the time in banking/financial services and “try something new.” My decision has certainly had me experience many successes and yes, some failures, but all in all, it was a decision that I am still happy that I chose to make…on purpose! (H/T Steve Browne)
After nearly two decades of working in or around Human Resources, I realize that I am in the ___________(this is where you fill in the blank with your favorite sports metaphor: “fourth quarter”, “late innings”, “final turn”, “back nine”, “back stretch”, etc.) of my HR career. I am not ready to call it quits and ride off into the sunset, but I do admit that I have spent more time recently looking at my 401(k), my retirement statements, and at warmer destinations to retire to than ever before. Time does not stand still for anyone, and I have found that it is true that the older you get, the faster time seems to move!
By the numbers, the past 18 years have included for me:
- 10 positions (and 1 part time position during graduate school) with 8 different employers in 3 different metro areas
- 1 graduate degree in human resources
- 5 certifications (PHR, CIR, SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP, Social Media Professional)
- Involvement in multiple volunteer leadership roles with SHRM in 3 chapters and 1 state council
- Hundreds of positions filled.
- Thousands of employees assisted.
- Many, many hours filled with joy, stress, anxiety, pride, tears, sweat, happiness, and some sadness.
That is a lot to take in, but much to be grateful for. I don’t know how many more years the good Lord has planned for me to continue on this journey, but I know that like any long trip that is nearing its’ destination, there is much more in my rearview mirror than what lies ahead of me. So, where do I go from here?
Anyone that knows me well, which is only a few of you, knows that I am a planner, I am energetic, and extremely competitive. With that, winding down and coasting is not an option for me. While I don’t think that I have the same goals and passion for that next job title, the next promotion, or even my next raise…I still look to continue to make a difference no matter how long I continue to work in human resources. From my earliest jobs, I have always strived to be the best that I can be, regardless of what the role is.
I don’t subscribe to the concept of “bucket lists”, but I do have some goals that I think will help me focus on continuing to make a difference in the years ahead.
- Never Stop Learning. One advantage to holding professional certifications is the ongoing requirement to earn professional development credits. I look at this as less of a requirement and more of a benefit. I want to stay current and continue to be effective in whatever capacity that I am working in, and the ongoing education is a great way to continue the learning to expand my knowledge.
- Pay It Forward. As a more “seasoned professional” I feel the responsibility to share my experience with those that are emerging in our field. Being a mentor, giving support, and helping those new to our field navigate our profession is one way that keeps me youthful and helps to grow our HR ranks. Giving to others really provides a huge return in the investment of our time and talents.
- Lead by Example – Title Not Necessary. One concept that I have maintained and embraced throughout my career and adult life is that we can lead without a title. Having been in several leadership roles early in my first career, I have found even without having a “Chief”, “Director” or “VP” on your business cards and on your door, you can still lead. Mentoring, serving on boards, volunteering, and just being a good person are all effective ways to lead without a title.
- Be Happy. My first job/career out of college became stressful and quite frankly, made me mentally and physically ill. I worked hard, took on too much, focused on regular promotions, and found myself reaching what would be the peak of that career by the age of 30…then what? It taught me to step back, refocus and realize that there was more to life than the next promotion. It also led me to my current career path which has provided me with more stability, greater satisfaction, and better health than what I had experienced early in my career.
In summary, I am not yet ready to write my own epitaph but looking forward to making the next and likely final chapters of my career the best ones yet. By having more knowledge, more experience, and a better handle on what is important (and what is not), I am hopeful that I still have plenty to give to my employer and customers. One advantage that I think that have is that I have never been able to “act my age.” There is much to be said about having the right mindset and remembering that “age is just a number.” While my number may be increasing with each calendar year, I still feel that my passion, energy, and skills are better now than they were when I first entered this field nearly two decades ago. There is still a little left in the tank…Look out!
NOTE: If you have read this far, you know that I am not yet ready for my first rocking chair, but I am enjoying my new gaming rocker with built-in subwoofer and 2-speaker sound system!
Never. Grow. Up.