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Career Crunch Points

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Sometimes in your career, not just in an academic one, you have to make a choice. You can’t pass go, you can’t collect your $200 and you can only make one decision with consequences whichever route you choose. Whether it’s a new job, a new project or a personal challenge here are some thoughts on when you are faced with a crunch point.

I think the only way to talk about this is from experience, in this case it’s mine - not that it’s worth anymore or any less than anyone else’s - and next time it might be someone else’s. So here goes my ten cents...

There have been moments in my own career where I have had to make what I would regard as a tough call. For me it was deciding to do further study. Option 1 was a job with a decent salary, 9-5 in a cool city that I had always wanted to live in which all equated to another notch on the career ladder with a clear future ahead. Option 2 was a curve ball. The same week of packing up my house to move for the new job I was offered a PhD - no money, long hours and no guarantee of a successful outcome. It felt risky to me. People said shouldn’t you be settling down, why would you put yourself through it for no clear benefit. It does make you begin to question things. On another occasion I had to choose between the opportunity to set up a business with a friend fresh on maternity leave or when I could have chosen a more relaxed few months. The choice, you see, is always one between the comfortable option and uncomfortable option - but something drives you. Perhaps it’s a need for newness, chasing the next thing or simply boredom.

So what do you do? There will always be consequences and responsibilities no matter what route you choose but what I can say is... take the route that scares you the most and back yourself all the way. You see each step opens up more doors and leads to even more choices but it’s about giving yourself the opportunity for change to do something amazing. If you are facing a tough call between a couple of options, enjoy the luxury of being able to choose. No regrets just go with the best decision you can make at the time and don’t overthink it and don’t look back. In case you wanted to know I took the PhD and I’ve never thought about that job once.

Building my personal brand was the career insurance in all of this. I could articulate a clear connecting between my existing experience and my move to the PhD. It was also a way of bringing my industry knowledge into my education rather than seeing them as separate career chapters.

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