My passion for writing, along with my childhood dream of becoming an author, sparked my interest in marketing and the art of selling products. My curiosity cultivated a love for the field, which fueled the start of my career. I was fascinated by the power content, strategy, and design have to spread ideas like wildfire and move audiences to meaningful action. For me, marketing was not just a means for making money; it was an opportunity to positively impact the world—shift culture and build bridges.
As my career in marketing progressed, my passion for making a difference slowly numbed—my roles became more about meeting quotas than making a meaningful impact. From one role to another, I was placed in fractured teams, spoken down to by managers, and discouraged from fully expressing my varied skill set and ideas. I always knew I was capable of more in my professional life, but never quite felt aligned with the right opportunities. I went from a budding entry-level marketer to an unfulfilled mid-level professional who became accustomed to going through the motions to collect a biweekly check. I didn’t like who I was becoming. I felt confined in my roles and mentally weighed down, and as I transitioned from one position to the next I found myself experiencing that familiar feeling of emptiness.
“I can’t do this anymore”, was a constant phrase circling around in my head, reminding me of how unhappy I’d become. I had only been at my most recent marketing job for three months before my manager was fired and several team members left. I was left on a team with minimal collaboration and ineffective communication. Before I knew it, I was spending eight hours a day working solo with no interaction in a field that thrives off creative collaboration. One afternoon, I swiftly closed my office door before laying my head across my desk and balling my eyes out. How did I get here? How did I get to a point in my career where I was no longer fueled by purpose, but by a predictable direct deposit? I wanted more, and I knew that more had to surpass the need to meet the bottom line.
I started toying with the idea of venturing out on my own, something I briefly tried the previous year but wasn’t fully committed to. My desire to leave left me feeling guilty. I had a decent job, making decent money, how dare I want to climb off this marketing career ladder and create my own path? At this point three months had turned into six and prioritizing my desires felt foreign to me. I was so used to silencing my voice in previous situations that it had unknowingly become a habit.
I wondered, where was the passion? Where was the joy? The excitement of coming into work with the opportunity to make a difference? I began to question if I was seeking a fantasy that didn’t really exist. On the contrary, was this the push I needed to reinvent my career and create the work-life I had always imagined? I knew that if I continued down a path of comfortability, I would forfeit the opportunity of reaching my full potential.
I had to believe that abundance was available to me and that I was worthy of receiving it. It was time to push past guilt and fear and make the decision to create the life I dreamed of personally and professionally.
Last January, I quit my digital marketing job to courageously embark on the unknown. During the past 12 months, I have completely transformed my life and career. I now run a purpose-driven marketing company. I’ve built an incredible network of freelancers. I get to partner with spirited individuals and businesses to create, refine, and present their most authentic message to the world. I’m building the community I longed to have, and I’ve connected with so many mission-driven companies who are getting it right.
In the middle of our global pandemic, I have also been able to create space for women to embrace their voices and prioritize their wellness through writing workshops. I knew that saying goodbye to my 9-5 was the necessary step to transform my life and career—however, it didn’t make the fears that tagged along any easier to ignore. The most important step in eliminating my fears was to call them out. Exposing what scared me empowered me to move toward my goals more fervently.
1. I feared that my dreams were out of my reach.
I craved connection, collaboration, and community. I visualized being a marketer who created meaningful campaigns, worked with a team of purpose-driven creatives, and wasn’t afraid of venturing outside the box. Drawn to coloring outside of the lines, I wanted to spark change through my love for writing, marketing strategy, and personal development, but I had zero ideas of how to start. The Shandice I pictured in my mind was so far out of my reach I told myself I had no choice but to stay in my marketing position and hope for the best. I allowed fear to grip my destiny tightly based on the belief that the gap between who I was and who I wanted to be was an impossible gap to fill.
When faced with the option of making a change or staying the same, staying the same will always appear more palatable because it comes with the least resistance. When we decide to leave our comfort zone, we have to equip ourselves to embrace a new path. If you want to close the gap, start by taking small, sustainable steps. I didn’t aimlessly quit my job; I created my portfolio, built client relationships, and took educational workshops to prepare myself to leap. I thrived past this fear of evolving by connecting with women who were doing similar things to what I wanted to do and built a support network I could journey with through my transition.
2. I feared I was giving up more than I would ever gain.
As I typed up my resignation letter, I quietly whispered, “Are you crazy, Shandice?”
Was I the problem? I’ve never been one to want to color inside of the lines and I have been often made to feel like a rebel because of it. Despite my internal conflict, I had to give myself permission to explore uncharted territory and put myself to the test.
Nothing worth having comes easy.
These words became my new motto. I decided to rewrite every “what if” in my mind and focus on the path ahead. I thrived past this fear of loss by trusting my instincts and ability to innovate and produce more. You have to be willing to take calculated risks and accept though everything in life will not go to plan, failed plans are opportunities to create new paths.
3. I feared that if I failed, I would never recover.
Though I had quit my job with a clear vision and promising leads, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d do if my contracts fell through or if I could not deliver on the services I was offering. I thrived past this fear of failure with the sobering fact—I will fail, I will make mistakes, but failure isn’t final.
I chose to believe in my expertise and experience, knowing that I am committed to making a positive difference through my work and beyond. When news of the pandemic began to circulate, instead of worrying about losing clients and opportunities, I positioned myself to be a solution to their problems and create the impact I had always dreamed of making. I had to believe that my dreams have never been out of my reach, and who I saw myself becoming in my mind was attainable.
I have every right to reinvent myself along the way, and so do you, once we commit to the process of getting back up and trying again when things don’t go to plan. When we thrive past it all; the fears, the doubts, the worries, we will surpass the “messy middle” and find our “meant to be.”
I want to encourage those of you who are secretly dreaming of the life you desire in your professional career and beyond—by reminding you that your dream can meet your reality, but you must first believe in it and be intentional about activating that belief. I’m thankful for all the experiences that led me to this point; I wouldn’t take back the struggles because I finally see the bigger picture.
My journey is still in the making, but my greatest realization thus far is that reinventing your career is ultimately a call to reinvent yourself. If you desire to upgrade your life and career, you must start by upgrading your mindset.