Why Your Career Path Doesn't Have to Be a Straight Line
Don’t let a narrow ladder keep you from expanding. Here’s why it’s okay to carve your own unique career path.
The pressure for women to take the traditional route is no joke. Graduate, get a job, work your way up that ladder, be a boss at 40, retire at 60 – such is the usual and expected career path. If you deviate in any way, others may see you as a slacker, a disruptor, or a failure. You may even feel the same way, but this doesn’t make any of it true.
Forming your professional path is personal and, ideally, unhindered by civilized society’s so-called rules. If you find yourself going backward, sideways, or in circles instead of moving forward, remember that there’s more than one way to get to Point B. That, and Point B isn’t the only destination. Here are all the reasons not to panic when your career path isn’t progressing the way you expected.
Times Are Different
Remember when women’s options were limited to traditional jobs in healthcare, education, or social and clerical work? Those days are gone. Now, there is more space for women in non-traditional and creative fields, where career trajectories are far from predetermined. Employees are free to shift specializations or transfer departments. You can be a content creator or entrepreneur on the side. Or you could simply enjoy your days off doing nothing. The possibilities are endless.
Growth Comes in Different Forms
The corporate ladder is a flawed concept because progress is not always linear. Promotions, awards, and huge salaries aren’t universal benchmarks of success. If you define it as being able to spend time with your family while doing something you love – even if it’s not necessarily impressive on paper – you’ve made it. If you're an industry , congratulations, you’ve evolved. Everyone has a different situation, goal, and definition of happiness. Don’t let a narrow ladder keep you from expanding.
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It’s Okay to Change Your Mind
If something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to change your mind. Whether it’s your choice or a result of circumstance, pivoting is essential to survival. According to a 2020 survey by AllBright, one in four women set up their businesses as a career shift, while 61% .
In the Philippines, while women in senior management roles dipped from 48% to 36% in 2022, the volume of women-led businesses grew. A policy note published by the Philippine Institute of Developmental Studies noted that 43.62% were established only in 2020. Changing your career path doesn’t mean you quit or failed – it’s simply a recognition of better things that suit your current needs.
It’s Equally Okay to Take Breaks
Gap years aren’t just for nepo babies. You, too, are allowed to take one. A gap year is taking a break from work to pursue other goals, , or . Whatever the reason, taking a break from working is okay and shouldn’t affect your career path. Even LinkedIn finally recognized this and included the option to add breaks under your Work Experience tab.
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Life Can Surprise You
John Lennon was right. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. You can schedule and scheme as painstakingly as you wish, but you can only control so much. Be open to possibilities and don’t be so strict about following just one career path. There’s more than one road to happiness and infinite ways to define success.