“As long as you are alive, you will either live to accomplish your own goals and dreams or be used as a resource to accomplish someone else's.”
― Grant Cardone
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” My manager asked in our annual engineering career discussion. A lump formed in my throat. I realized I didn’t have an answer to his question, or at least an answer he would want to hear. My eyes darted out the windows of his office that faced the engineering cubicle area. I saw brilliant senior engineers and engineering managers hard at work. They had great paying, respectable jobs. And yet I didn’t want to be any of them in 5 years. As I turned back to my manager to answer his question, I stumbled through some generic response. But I couldn’t shake this feeling in the back of my mind that I couldn’t be here in 5 years. I just couldn’t. It wouldn’t be authentic to myself to continue to pretend that I wanted to continue a long career as an engineer.
At the time, I had side businesses in real estate and e-commerce that I’d been working to grow. I had found things that I was truly passionate about. But what I was the most passionate about was leaving the 9-5 job behind and instead being fully in control of my time. I wanted to put that time and work into building businesses for myself, and not for other people.
So I quit my job. I didn’t do it immediately, and frankly it was one of the scariest things I’ve done. But I eventually quit my well-paying engineering job, and soon after my husband and I moved across the country. I basically started over and completely reinvented myself and my career. I grew my e-commerce business to full time and never looked back. My day to day life today couldn’t be more different to what it was a year ago. Although it was terrifying, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. You’re probably not going to regret at least attempting to create a life you love, but you’re definitely going to regret not even trying at all.
I had immense fears that because I once had this “respectable” and “impressive” job, and now that I don’t, I won’t be taken as seriously. For a while, when people asked me what I did for work, I would start with “well, I used to be an engineer…” because I thought people would respect me more for it. But the truth is that now my ambitions are even bigger than when I was an engineer. The realm of what I think is possible is even bigger. There are no limitations to what I can accomplish or a cap to my income. Where I see myself in 5 years is, well, certainly not in a cubicle.
Since leaving my 9-5, in some ways I have worked harder than I ever did in engineering. I have pushed and pushed… and pushed. But this kind of work invigorates me. I would rather work 70 hours a week for myself than 40 hours a week for someone else. I’ve learned that you either take steps towards pursing your dreams or you stay stagnant where you’re at. I’ve learned that you have a responsibility to work towards accomplishing your own goals, because no one is going to do it for you.
Most importantly, I have learned that if something no longer serves you or helps to further your dreams, you have to be willing to walk away. It’s the only way to engineer a life you love.
- Shae Green