I recently had an all-too-familiar conversation with a woman, Brooke, who was unsure about her career. She loved the comfortable atmosphere, the boss who telecommutes from home daily, and, of course, the fact that her work load was slim to none.
Brooke was able to catch up on her shows, industry news and fashion blogs. She said she always asks her main boss how she can help or if there is anything she can take off her plate. Her boss's go-to sweet response is always, "I've got it covered. You do not want this work in front of you. Thanks so much for offering. Let me shield you from this type of work." She said it felt great that her boss was protecting her from the nitty-gritty work of the firm and loved the freedom she had. Except, from an outside observer's perspective, she was very much caged.
She was stuck in a box and unable to grow.
After she learned I was in the career space, Brooke 'fessed up that she was insanely bored and wanted more. She asked for my opinion on the matter. She wanted to know how she can approach her boss and start doing more real work. She said she often asked for reviews but her boss was always "busy."
From the sounds of it, her career development was not on her boss's agenda. Which is the case for some firms. If her boss truly wanted her to become an all-star at the firm, she would pass along more tasks her way and help her hone her skills. Yet, her boss was protecting the work she was doing incredibly close. Perhaps all she was looking for was an assistant, and if that's the case, then you can say sayonara to any real education and movement within.
Brooke took this all in and admitted she wasn't even so keen on learning the ins and outs of the linen industry.
Her real dream was to open an online accessories store a la #GirlBoss Sophia Amoruso. She enlightened me that her Brooklyn neighborhood had everything – minus a place to buy higher-end accessories. The idea was to set up shop online and then grow into a smaller storefront. She knew she could get the web traffic and the foot traffic. She went on for 15 minutes or so. Her face lit up as she talked about each plan, each step and every designer she wanted to include.
I told her it was time to start turning her dream into a reality.
Her current job was not challenging her and she was barely interested in the field. The two plusses were the salary and the low stress. She easily could work on her business after work and on weekends. All she needed to do to get started was create a website with an e-commerce component and start making relationships with designers.
"But what if I fail?" Brooke honestly asked. I told her, "Then you fail knowing you tried and aren't stuck working at the linen firm wondering what if."
The only thing that gets in the way of our dreams is ourselves and fear plays a huge part in stopping us from following our dreams. Starting your own business is extremely challenging. I also told Brooke that she should reach out to people in her industry and see if she might be able to add some part time work to 'test out' her passion. She might discover she would rather work for an e-commerce store than run all of it. Without doing a test drive -- you'll never know what you really want to do.
The worst thing any of us can do is stay at a job where we are bored.
Everyone has something to offer. Don't let yourself stay 'stuck' in a situation. Take charge, be innovative, look for a new project or partnership you can development. If you are truly at a dead end, spruce up your resume and take the bold risk to leave a comfortable situation.
You'll be happy that you did.