I have watched women hesitate to go back to work after taking time off because they worry about being out of the loop and are embarrassed that their age is beyond their title and their pay grade. They worry that they don’t understand the latest technology and will look like a dinosaur—or as one woman reentering the workforce said, “I feel like I’m riding in on a horse in a hoop skirt!”
You may feel that way too if you are thinking about changing careers or are reentering the workforce after some time off with kids—as though you are back in the boat of paying your dues. That is okay! Be proud of that, not scared or embarrassed. True, chances are, you may face a bit of a learning curve. But while your employer may have to invest in you a bit more at first and you may even earn a bit less than you’d like at first, your life experience did make you more mature and wise. Focus on how you can get your foot in the door, then work hard to advance your position. Trust me, it won’t take you nearly as long as you think to catch up.
Our Stella & Dot tech group recently sponsored an intern from the Hackbright Academy, the leading software engineering school for women. The academy, which graduates more female engineers than Stanford and UC Berkeley each year, focuses on helping women change their careers. Our intern had a master’s degree in literature and was teaching when her husband’s job brought them to California. She got a job in technical recruiting and soon realized she’d rather be the one taking the coding job than just helping fill the positions. She took a step back to move forward in a new direction. She had to work hard and essentially start over, but now she’s a web engineer, doing something she loves.
It’s never too late.
It’s never too late to pursue what you don’t know and what you passionately want. And if you’re still feeling uneasy or embarrassed about your age—embrace the fear and move forward anyway. Let your vision for a bright future inspire and help you take your confidence to the next level. Sometimes, it’s not the how to do it that’s missing in most people (there is a how-to video on YouTube for just about anything), it’s the confidence and motivation to actually do it. How brave are you?
Ask yourself these questions:
What would you do if fear were not a factor? Have you ever let fear hold you back?
Who is on the list of people you are trying to impress? Is it a very short list of the people you love the most? And are you at the very top? Or do you live your life trying to impress other people, even some you don’t care all that much about?
Do you embrace the philosophy that the only way to fail is to have never tried? Do you see failure as a necessary stepping-stone on the path to greatness?
Who are you sharing your bold goal with? That helps make it real. Who do you think will help keep you accountable? How?
What is the first thing you are going to do that is daring, that helps you accomplish your goal? What small action could you take that would advance you along the path to your goal?
Adapted from FIND YOUR EXTRAORDINARY by Jessica DiLullo Herrin. © Jessica DiLullo Herrin 2016. A Crown Business book, The Crown Publishing Group.