I made a big career leap a few years ago. When I made the leap I thought I knew what I was doing. I attended informational sessions at universities. The leap would require returning to school for a graduate degree. I researched which schools would be the best to attend for what I wanted to do. I spent time observing people doing the job I wanted to do next. I asked questions, listened to the answers, and asked more questions. I did more research and reading about the career.
I was as close to certain as I could be that this leap was the way to go. I assumed I could go back if it did not work out. Just because I had a graduate degree and a I higher level of certification that should not prevent me from returning to my old life if I needed to, right? I was building a bridge from one level to the next, not destroying something.
This leap was how I wanted to move forward. I was nearly certain this was what I wanted to do. I researched everything (except what happens if I need to to go back).
So I leapt.
Then, after leaping, life did not behave the way it was supposed to and unexpected things happened. My plan and life’s plan did not match. Ha. But I still got the graduate degree. I made the career leap. I stepped into the new role. I assumed I could go back. I assumed the bridge I made when I leapt went in both directions.
I assumed wrong.
I was able to cross the bridge by doing a lot of work in graduate school and leveling up. I can stay on this side of the bridge as long as I keep doing this work and keep maintaining this level of knowledge. I did not realize how much work it would be to maintain this when I started this process.
However, I have recently learned, if I decide to go back across the bridge to the lower level, temporarily (or permanently), I have to deactivate the upper level. I have to burn the bridge.
I can go back. But the cost is great. Once I go back there is no returning to the other side unless I rebuild the whole damn bridge.
So now what?
If I were my own best friend I don’t know what advice I would give myself. And that’s the honest answer. I currently don’t want to be at the upper level. I currently would like to return to the lower level. But I also don’t want to tear the bridge down completely by returning to the lower level. Yet to return to the lower level I have to burn the bridge.
So if I were my own best friend I would pause. Give myself a hug. Give myself time. Tune into that inner voice that knows more about the unknown than I do and try my hardest to listen. What does it have to say? Which bridge should I cross next?