Back in June I was invited to do an Instagram Live with a phenomenal brand, Mujeres on the Rise. I had no clue what I should talk about and started looking through some old blog drafts and random musings to get inspired. Then, I stumbled upon a super old draft where I had outlined “10 lessons I learned towards my first promotion.” Originally, I had planned to do a lesson or two in a series of blog posts, but I never got around to it! Two years later and I found that the content was still relevant today.
However, in celebration of making it to year 5 at Google I shortened it to 5 lessons. I shared them during the IG Live and most recently during Google’s first ever Latinx Student Leadership Summit for students in Mexico. I got such great response from both audiences that I thought I should share it with all of my readers (:
Lesson One: Stay in your lane.
It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and feel like you’re not doing enough. I remember look around and feeling like I couldn’t measure up to my peers. A big part of that was the impostor syndrome taking over, but I was also getting caught up in looking everywhere else but what was ahead for me. The thing is that there will always be people ahead of you, behind you and even next to you! However, you gotta focus on what’s ahead for yourself. Your stops and destination (if there is one – see lesson four) will definitely vary from that of those around you and that’s okay! We all have our own unique lane and pathway to explore.
Lesson Two: You are the narrative that you tell others.
I’ve struggled with confidence throughout my career and this really showed up when I was asked about my leadership capabilities during a performance evaluation. Nothing was coming to mind and I found it easy to share this with my manager at the time. They eased my doubts, to a degree, and told me I was sure to think of something to write down. Well, fast forward to when they delivered my performance feedback and they shared that I needed to work on my leadership. Surprised? No! I set myself up for that by sharing a narrative that I was doubting my own leadership. While my overall evaluation went well I realized that I had to be careful how I shared information with others. Whether or not my manager doubted my leadership, the fact that I doubted it and was communicating that was further pushing that story.
Remember, you are in control of your own story, so think about what you’re sharing with others and how you’re sharing it. You never know when they’ll that with others.
Lesson Three: Breaks are important, too!
If you take anything from this post (hopefully you do!) I hope this lesson is the one that sticks. Whenever I’m not being productive I feel incredibly guilty and this drives me to always be working on something – more work, my blog, researching master’s programs. However, our mind and body also need to rest and rest looks different for everyone. I used to think resting was about taking a spa day or traveling to the beach on a vacation day. But, it doesn’t have to be! Rest can be curling up to a good book, cuddling with your pets or just soaking in a bath at home. Whatever rest is for you, take it!
Work will always be there, but your health won’t always be at 100% so make the time to prioritize it. And, don’t forget that health isn’t just the physical, but also our mental well being.
Lesson Four: It’s all journey.
At my core I am a planner. Everything has to be organized and serve a purpose, and if not, then away it goes! However, you can’t always control your life that way. I remember a friend once sharing, “you know, you can’t program manage your life.” And that is so true! Chasing after the next big thing can get exhausting and sometimes you realize that the next shiny thing may not bring you as much satisfaction as you had hoped. Life truly is a journey and sometimes there is no destination!
There’s so much more out there than the next promotion or the next new role. And, yes, these accomplishments are exciting and important, but they don’t have to be all you’re chasing. You can chase after other personal goals. Similarly, you can stop to enjoy the achievements you’ve gotten to thus far. After all, at one point you were dreaming to be where you are now, so take time to enjoy it.
Lesson Five: Your worth doesn’t come from your job.
This has been the toughest lesson to learn because for a very long time I used my job to validate my worth. Without my job I felt like I really wasn’t all that special and it pushed me to give 200% into my work. All that left me with was frustration, disillusionment and burn out. Definitely not a fun time!
Meetings will come and go and something I think about often is, “what will I remember about this day a year from now?” At this point all my meetings and work become a blur, but what I do remember are those moments when my dogs do something silly or dinners I cook with my partner. Moments that I think nothing can replace. So, take your vacation days, explore your hobbies and passions and know and believe that there is more to you than your work title.
So much has happened in my 5+ years in the tech industry and I’m thankful for all the growth. While I wish someone had shared these lessons with me early on I’m glad I have the chance to share them all with you today!