Three Things I've Learned Through My Career

By Marinelle Reynolds, LCSW

I’ve been in the helping profession for a long time. It’s something that I feel passionate about, and I’ve been blessed throughout my career to have had so many amazing mentors and supervisors. Each one shaped who I became as a clinician and helped me grow my career into something that I can be proud of.

Regardless of where you are in your career path or if you are considering starting a career, here are some of the most impactful nuggets of wisdom that I have learned that you can use along the way.

1.      You don’t have to choose between having a family and having a career

Between child care, parenting duties, housekeeping, meetings and deadlines, being a working mom is hard work. Trying to balance both on your own can sometimes get in the way of a growing career.

In fact, a 2013 Pew Research Center survey found that, among parents with at least some work experience, mothers with children under age 18 were about three times as likely as fathers to say that being a working parent made it harder for them to advance in their job or career (51% vs. 16%).

This disparity is largely due to the fact that more often than not, mothers experience a family related interruption in their career more often than fathers- whether it is to stay home and care for a family member or in the case of a military spouse, because of a change in duty station.

That being said, it is harder but not impossible, to have both a family and a career.

Remember you don’t have to do it all and you don’t have to do it alone.

Teamwork and a partnership at home is crucial to having a work-life balance and a happy home.

Sharing household chores and parenting duties is a key component of a healthy marriage. The University of Missouri found that “the more wives perceived that husbands were engaged in routine family work tasks, the better the relationships were for both partners.”

Sharing tasks doesn’t have to mean an equal division of tasks, sharing can mean different things to different couples. What is important is that couples come together for an agreeable distribution of responsibilities from the perspective that “we are partners in this together and we are a team.”

When we share household responsibilities with our spouse, we not only strengthen our relationship, we allow space to have a fulfilling career.

2.      Lean into opportunities

Many times, we let ourselves get in the way of our own success.

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We say no to opportunities before we’ve even explored the possibility.

We let the fear of failure or the fear of what others think get in the way of what we want.

We say things like “I can’t apply for that promotion because we will be moving in a few years” or “I don’t have the connections that other people have, so there’s no way I can have a successful business."

When we tell ourselves no before we’ve crossed the realm of possibility, we very subtly pull away from opportunities. We make choices like passing on the leadership project or saying no to learning about a business, each choice slowly closing the door before we’ve tried or even decided.

Get out of your way. Instead of pulling away, lean into fear and opportunity.

As Sheryl Sandberg says “don’t leave before you leave”.

Lean into the possibility of what could be and then decide if it’s for you. Taking risks and putting yourself out there allows you to feel the fear without allowing it to control your decisions. It allows you to keep moving forward until you decide what direction you want to go.

Sometimes the only way to get over fear is to go through it. If we fall, we fall and we pick ourselves back up. But if we close the door before we even try, we will always wonder what could’ve have been.

3.      Imposter Syndrome can get the best of all of us

Imposter Syndrome is a term that many clinicians use to describe someone who is successful but feels like a fraud.

Georgia State University psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes wrote a study that found high-achieving women were much more likely to experience Imposter Syndrome than men and are more likely to attribute their success to outside forces like luck or someone’s help instead of their own merit. Interestingly enough, University of Connecticut found that women are also much more likely to blame failures on internal factors like intelligence or personal performance.

Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone, at any point in their career or business. It can compound on feelings of inadequacy and fear. It can keep you from taking a step forward because you feel like you don’t deserve success or someone else is more deserving. It can keep you from connecting with others because you are afraid that people will find out you’re not as good/smart/talented as they think you are.

This feeling of unworthiness and un-deservingness grows in darkness and seclusion.

As scary as it can be, being vulnerable and acknowledging our imperfections to those we trust can shine a light and healing on those dark places. Recognizing your role in your success is also an important part of combating Imposter Syndrome.

Yes, there will be outside factors that contributed but you played a role in your success.  You leaned in and said yes, when you could’ve easily said no. Say thank you when someone gives you praise instead of minimizing what you did or contributing all your success to others.

Be fierce and acknowledge it…own it, you worked hard and you deserve this.  

This of course is not an inclusive list of career wisdom, but these are the ones that had the most impact on how I viewed myself, my role as a mother and helped shape my career goals.

How will you use these nuggets of wisdom?

What are some of the nuggets of wisdom you have picked up along your career?

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Marinelle Reynolds is an LCSW who graduated with a Masters in Social Work from Michigan State University. She has over 15 years of experience helping individuals & groups learn to find their authentic self, thrive in life’s transitions & build resiliency against stress. You can connect with this proud military spouse (with two active littles and a sweet but stubborn dog) and her small private practice here online.