There comes a time in our lives when we all, even leaders, have a yearning to stop and tap into the force within us that’s telling us “you need a break”. This was where I found myself mid-2020 in the midst of a global pandemic.
In October of 2020 I had to make a scary admission. My job, which had been a source of joy and fulfillment, had gone through changes that made it a place I no longer enjoyed. At the time, I had been in the role for 18 months. My prior role had been almost 12 years. I am loyal and I love stability, yet I knew I needed to step back and make time to refocus, reenergize, and reset – even if that meant stepping away from the organization. This reset is a critical part of my career pathway and of being a good leader.
As a technology executive, I carefully evaluated the pros and cons of this decision. Would I be able to land another job in a pandemic? How long could I be financially safe? Could I really let go of the job? In late 2020, after doing the analysis, I accepted a severance package and booked a six-week trip to the island of Barbados – a decision I have not regretted and will always cherish. The goals for this trip were – soak in a lot of sunshine and beach time, relaxation, tap into my life’s purpose, and gain clarity in my career – determining what the next steps should be.
My days transformed from hours on Zoom planning corporate strategy and guiding my amazing team, to waking up and falling asleep to the sound of waves, with nothing but relaxation and self-discovery in between. In a way, it was a homecoming. I am a Caribbean (Trinidad & Tobago) native living in the DC Metropolitan area. The water, sand and sun were the perfect backdrop for my professional reset.
I have worked as a Chief Information Officer for over 14 years and my prior career includes an enjoyable time with the global management consulting firm Grant Thornton, LLP and also additional consulting work with BroadPoint, Inc. – now Velosio. Like many professionals, I am fastidious in the management of my career, so this space of not having my next role lined up was new to me. I was on a far-away island physically, yet my career was in unchartered waters.
Still, I had faith in my network. Through the years, I built a very solid network of professionals whom I regard very highly and whom I make sure to nurture carefully. Part of my career development includes membership in organizations with like-minded leaders. I am proud to be a champion of the Women Business Collaborative (WBC) on the Leadership Council. WBC’s Women in the Pipeline Action Initiative aims to ensure all women have access to networks and resources that allow them to reset and refocus their career paths – through mentoring programs and leadership development initiatives, WBC is paving a path for women to thrive in the workforce.
Additionally, I have been a member of the Society for Information Management (SIM) for over 7 years. I serve on the board of the SIM Capital Area Chapter and I am also a member of the SIM National Chapter Advisory Council. Building a network of supporters and staying connected through association membership along with executive coaching have been instrumental in my career growth and development.
Armed with books, my spiritual and uplifting information mobile apps, and a journal, I embraced the beach life with gusto as I worked on identifying the areas around my career and life that I wanted to address. I read and journaled daily. I gained great insight on my career from reading the book “Clarity – How Smart Professionals Create Success on Their Terms,” by Debbie Peterson – a fellow WBC champion. This helped me identify the criteria to use for my next career opportunity. Gaining a clear understanding of my purpose was also a goal of this trip. I read “The Passion Test – The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose” by Janet Bray Atwood and Chris Atwood. This inspirational reading helped in unveiling who I am and how I want to show up. My purpose, unveiled in Barbados is to Encourage, Inspire, and Uplift Others. I want this to be evident in everything I do – at work, play, personal time and so on. Taking this time to really understand my purpose has allowed me to navigate my job search without fear and respectfully decline opportunities that were not in alignment with it.
My Caribbean retreat was very fulfilling. The beautiful beaches of Barbados – oh, the beaches- the amazing, peaceful sunsets and the sublime moments of peace, reflections, reading and journaling all summed up to a great reset for me and how I mean to serve others on my path.
I encourage you, my fellow leaders and colleagues, if you find yourself in a place where you feel a reset is necessary, it is ok to tap out of the game for a bit and find a quiet retreat to hear yourself clearly again. Clarity is key to building a successful career. If a far away island isn’t realistic for you, then plan a restoring vacation, plan a weekend getaway, or a completely unplugged day of peace – create your own island retreat. You deserve time to get back to who you are and what you want your career to be.