This coming week I will complete six years at Google, and 15 years as a working professional. I admit time just flew by.
When I look back, I recall a young woman who took herself too seriously in her earlier years, but has become quite a clown lately. I have learnt to laugh at myself, and deal with my imperfections over the years. In these 15 years I spent six years trying to chase a dream, achieved it, and then crushed it myself. I have grown from an IC to a multiplier. I have become more entrenched in my principles, and have led with courage, and humility. I continue to do the right thing and prioritize my convictions over my conveniences.
It’s been a good run. And the highlight of these fifteen years have been the people I met, learnt from, and admired. I’ve run into one not so great manager but even they supported me upwards in my trajectory, and two difficult team mates. Three bad apples in 15 years. I should not jinx myself now. I was rewarded in time, and encouraged to expand my horizons. I never had to ask for a job, or a raise, or a promotion. I took what was given, and I was always grateful for it. I never took a sick day just because I didn’t feel like going to work. And I exhausted all my PTO each year and even went negative.
I have touched people’s lives, experienced moments of awe, humility, and vulnerability. I’ve seen people get married, have kids, send kids to college, and attended retirement parties and funerals. I was loved, and I loved back. I was cared for, and I cared back.
I’ve had everything in the last fifteen years that one can ask for from employment. Just that in last few years I always put myself and my wants on the back burner, and did what was right, for the role, the team, the employer. I benefited. But I am not fulfilled.
I dealt with this fulfillment gap my making short term goals. They create a sense of purpose, and drive and are very rewarding in terms of day to day motivation. But the steam sizzles out eventually. A small team becomes big, or the mission is achieved, or simply said I can do the work in my sleep.
I don’t regret the approach I’ve taken over the last six years to bridge the gap between what makes me happy, and what is my true potential. I challenge roles and redefine them. But this game is tiresome. It is effective, but not efficient.
I’ve learnt that in life not all your portfolios are balanced at all times. But I am getting close to the time when I will need to answer the question – what do I want to do in the next 20 years?
15 years ago I wanted to work for Google. I tried and failed many times. But I got here eventually. On the way I found another purpose, and 10 years ago I wanted to work with engineering teams to build products that solve problems. I achieved that too and aced the role. It was all good, until six years ago, I needed to find a job close to home. And ever since I pivoted from “wants” to “needs”, I lost my purpose.
I want to go back to wanting. But that road back is very long, and hard and will require a lot of conviction. It is so convenient to just keep meeting my needs. How will I summon that conviction? What price am I willing to pay for it? And how will I evaluate if I am making the right call? I have no answers. I know if I don’t try to answer these questions I will not be able to see myself eye to eye in the mirror. I want to challenge myself, and I know I will fail a lot early on, but just like I was comfortable failing while I was chasing my wants. I want to bring back that comfort in failing. Because I have 20 years ahead of me to succeed eventually.
I didn’t plan to write any of this. It all just flowed while I sat waiting for the milk to boil for my yogurt. I want to go back in my skin. The girl who took herself too seriously wants to pursue some serious goals once again. Let’s see where she goes. She has humor and grit and her convictions by her side. And we all know she is not afraid of making some questionable decisions – switching majors in college a week after coming to US, and rejecting an offer from Motorola because consulting sounded more like her game (especially at a 30% lower pay), and more recently quitting her dream job to raise a kid.
No rush. Just some resolves. And some wants revisited….