Why I Am Glad I Took a Step Back in My Career

To end up 10 steps ahead in just two short years.

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

You know that old adage, sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward?

It’s. So. Freaking. True!

Two years ago I felt trapped in a job I despised. I worked 12 hour days, 6 days a week to keep up with a heavy workload under the false pretense that I would be able to hire a team member soon to balance the workload.

Never being one to give up or to believe I can’t influence an outcome, I took a full weekend off and bright eyed and bushy tailed on a Monday morning pitched my boss on why I needed help, exactly what help that would be, and provided him with a job description for the role and asked what additional information he needed from me to approve the hire.

His response? Wait…. For…. It…..

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t even know what you spend your time on…”

I was aghast. I literally did everything. He wanted a report on 2 seconds notice, I dropped everything and ran it (manually – we didn’t have a reporting system).

When he decided we needed to build a manual, tedious excel-based pipeline on which to track sales opportunities. I built it. And for a year I gave up every Sunday to manually create the report so that it would be up-to-date for Monday’s staff meeting.

Insurance. Financial analysis. Budgeting. Invoice reconciliation. Staff meeting prep. Compliance. Marketing. Day-to-day management of our team of 20.  Quality Assurance. Human Resources. Shareholder distributions.

And, that was the moment where I realized I was laboring under false pretenses. There was never going to be another resource. He was maximizing his investment. And, in that moment, I knew I could have pushed to get help, but I thought, “why?”

Why would I want to keep working here? Why would I want to spin my wheels, toiling 72 hours a week for a good (but not ridiculous) salary? If I’m going to work like this, shouldn’t I be getting the upside?

It took awhile to figure out HOW I was going to do it. 

I eventually found my way to Upwork and in my first week I had 4 clients who paid me ~$500 for PowerPoint presentations, graphic design and even setting up a Shopify store. Ultimately, I realized that I was most efficient and getting the highest return on presentation design projects and niched down.

I make almost twice freelancing as I did in my traditional role, but I work half as much and with the most incredible, grateful clients. Clients who send me pictures from their presentations and say thank you!

Every morning when I wake up eager to start the day, I am grateful I trusted my instincts and found a way forward. Grateful that I took that step back to take two steps forward.

And, on days when I decide I need to take a nap (only like every few months!) I have NO doubt that I followed the right path.

    You might also like...


    Claire Sofield On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

    by Karen Mangia

    Melissa Dexter On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

    by Karen Mangia

    Sam Underwood On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

    by Karen Mangia
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.