Throughout my entire professional life, there’s the idea that there should always be a pattern of growth in your career; that the next role should be higher than the last one.
I believe in growth, but growth for the sake of growth is not ideal. Eventually, you may reach a place that you are either unhappy with, or worse, incompetent.
I see this often in engineering and technical fields, where the growth upwards takes them on a management track. But being an excellent technical person doesn’t make them excellent management material. Instead, it would be better to have senior technical roles for those types of people to grow into, but that’s not often available.
But there is another option not always explored; one where you take a step back. People don’t do this as they see it as a demotion, and loss of status is a really terrible feeling. This option can be a valuable one, though as it allows you to change directions before it becomes even more challenging to do so.
A step back is indeed what you need to do if you want to change careers later in your life. You will need to take a step, or two, or three, backwards while you start over.
And this is the sort of juncture that I find myself. A place where I could go backwards and chart a different course, or stay the path I’m on and suffer a little more with the hope that it gets better.
Either way, tread carefully.