Hitting the Pause Button on Your Career

“I’m so done with the 9-5 career,” my friend explains, taking a stab at her salad. She sits back and sighs. “Staff meetings, sales calls, budgets…I just don’t care anymore about climbing the corporate ladder. I just want a job that I don’t have to bring home with me at the end of the day.”

She’s not alone in deciding that the next chapter in her life doesn’t necessarily include power-lunches and clothes that require dry cleaning. So what do you do for a living? is the question often asked at networking events. But, is it professionally acceptable to bag the power-suit and just get a job that doesn’t define us?

While Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg correctly stresses in her book “Lean In” that more women need to have a seat at the corporate table, It’s not the only option for achieving a professional balance in life. But there are many factors in deciding whether to chuck the heels and briefcase.

Let’s look at the downside of stepping off the corporate ladder…

  • Most part-time jobs are hourly and pay substantially less than full-time jobs. While we might have a romantic vision of living a simpler life based on a lower income, are you really ready for fewer nights out on the town, and less trips to the café for $7 iced coffees?
  • Like it or not, jobs define us in our culture. Many people can’t fathom why a woman with a bachelor’s degree in Business is suddenly ringing up scarves at the local boutique. Something terrible must have happened, is often the thought that pops up.
  • Working a so-called regular job can sometimes come with a boss who is not only much younger, but also less knowledgeable in the world of business. The reality is, you may be taking orders from someone who has yet to get their first credit card. And YOU will have to suck it up, buttercup.

But there is an upside to non-career / part-time employment, and the benefits can make all the difference!

  • At a regular job, the hamburgers don’t follow you home at the end of the night. That’s right, clocking out at 8:00 means you’re done, not just taking a break until your home, and opening your laptop after dinner to continue working on your current project.
  • Stress levels go way down. For the most part, a regular job is generally less stressful. Gone, are the weekly budget meetings, sales sheets, and cold calls. That’s not to say that all part-time jobs come with less responsibility and goals, but the level is generally less.
  • Designer Hours – OK, the downside of working part-time is that you will generally have to work hours that are less than ideal, like evenings and weekends, but owners and managers will also work with you in putting a schedule together that fits your lifestyle. This can allow for you to be home for your kids when they get out of school, or open up a 3-day weekend. It’s up to you.

At the end of the day, we all need to do what’s best for us. Career vs. job, it’s really about what looks best on you. Here’s a thought … let’s not worry about how our jobs define us.

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Women’s LifeStyle.