By Perminus Wainaina
“I wish I had not taken the job for the money.” “I wish I had quit earlier.” “I wish I had taken advantage of that opportunity.” “I wish I had taken more initiative.”
Have you ever said any of these things to yourself?
You are not alone.
“I made the wrong choices in my career and now my peers are doing way better. Regret is eating me alive, how can I get over it?”
Linet graduated at 21, started working as an admin when she was 23, and worked in the same company until she was 27. This was seven years ago. At the time, all she wanted was a source of income. She did not have the desire to get promoted, or even ask for better pay.
“I was living from paycheck to paycheck, but I was satisfied and even comfortable with the idea that I could see myself working there for a long time,” she says.
This was until her boss hired someone else to take her role, with better pay. She decided to quit.
At 27, she left a company she had worked at for four years without anything to show for it. After three months, she received another job offer for a similar role. She worked here for two years, where interest in wanting more was sparked.
Just when she thought of trying for a promotion within the company, the Corona pandemic hit and she, together with her colleagues, was sent on indefinite unpaid leave. After six months, she decided to quit.
This was a huge risk she took, especially because many companies were downsizing, and she felt she was older which could work to her disadvantage.
“I decided to throw myself into the job search pool and aim for bigger companies, sometimes even applying for jobs that were above my practical skills.
I constantly questioned whether I had made the right decision, especially because many of my friends were doing better than me. I regularly thought about what the possibilities in my career would have been if only I had self-esteem and drive early in my career,” she went on saying when we met during our career mentorship program.
Like Linet, have you found yourself questioning the decisions you made? Are you having career regrets?
Truth is, every professional has something they regret over the lifetime of their career.
While career regrets are incredibly common, last year saw many professionals beat themselves up for not doing things differently in regards to their profession.
However, it is not healthy for you to remain in a state of regret.
Here is how to get out of it and not just take charge of your career moving forward, but minimize the regrets too.
We’ve all felt regret or wondered what would have happened if we had made a different decision in our careers and lives.
Reflecting on your career regrets can be advantageous if you focus on identifying why you feel regret over a certain choice or lack of action. Schedule some time to write down some of your regrets from the past year or a past regret before then that stands out in your mind.
What caused you to make your decision? Was it fear, a sense of duty, or something else?
2. Seek career mentorship
Finding support if you are currently in a career situation you regret is essential. Talk to someone such as a career mentor. You may be surprised to find they have been in similar situations and have practical tips to help you. Through career mentorship, you will be able to work towards making better choices moving forward. A career mentor can also provide support and systematic ideas to help you move forward successfully.
3. Change your perspective
Look at your past as valuable knowledge and experience that paves the way for what’s ahead.
Although it can be tough to hear it at the moment, more times than not, our career ‘mistakes’ end up being the best things for us. They show us what we want—and don’t want. They allow us to learn lessons, encounter challenges, and work with people that we might not have otherwise.
As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
In the end,
Analyzing your future decisions in this way will help minimize career regret, and over time it will be easier for you to make career choices that truly fulfill you.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through career mentorship programs, he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career mentorship.N.B: Would you like us to consider you for a job opening? Boost your job search. Upload Your CV Here. It's FREE