When I was working as an engineer, I overextended myself for resume cred.
I enrolled in a part-time Master’s program. I volunteered as a project lead for an international project in my “spare time”. I applied for committee positions in various professional organizations. I attended networking events (and hated every second of them). I got licensed as a Professional Engineer. I pursued LEED certification. The list goes on and on…
If it was out there, I wanted it next to my name.
Doing all these things made me look better on paper (I was constantly being recruited for new and exciting positions), but there was a problem with my strategy: I wasn’t actually learning how to be a better engineer, a better leader, a better mentor, OR a better person.
I was just focused on the next big thing to get ahead.
Now, one might argue that the experience and education I was receiving were planting the seeds that I needed to be a better engineer, leader, mentor, and person, but in reality, I was just going through the motions. My focus was on getting ahead, not on development and growth.
I’d been taught to check the boxes, to be the first to the finish line, and that more is always better. And I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to be the best at it.
Fast forward a few years… After I burned out and stepped away from my engineering career, one of the first things I did was pare down my commitments.
Initially, it came out of necessity; I just didn’t have the energy to continue living and working that way.
But then, I started to realize how good it felt to be in control of where I spent my time and energy. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I felt fully present and invested in the choices that I was making for myself and my career. Instead of focusing on what I “should” do, I was focused on what I really wanted to do – work that was exciting to me, new challenges in different industries, volunteering with organizations that shared my beliefs, and taking classes that propelled me to a whole new level, personally and professionally.
I stopped feeling defined by my credentials and started to see my value in terms of my priorities, my beliefs, my core values, and my innate strengths.
I had grown beyond my resume.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring bringing more of YOU to the forefront in your work.
Today, I’d love to hear from you: do you feel defined or pigeon-holed by your credentials and frustrated with all the things you “should” do? Or have you found a way to bring your whole self to the table and be successful?