Editor’s Note: We asked our community to reflect on their experiences as women in technology and consider what they would tell their daughters or younger selves. Here is Veronica Beck’s thoughtful contribution.
Working hard to get where you want and what you want is important. There will be times in your life when your career is your focus and priority. That’s great. It’s wonderful to make your career front and center, work hard at it, and learn and advance. It’s really fun to learn new things about your chosen field, connect with other people in the field, and see how far you can take it. Go for it, especially if (and I hope this is true) it’s something you’re excited about.
And, there may be times in your life when your career takes a backseat to other pursuits. You might want to switch careers, or take a break from your job, or work part time so you can focus on other things, whatever they might be. It’s great to do this from time to time to get perspective on what’s truly important to you.
And, there will probably be times when you feel conflict between your career and other pursuits. Maybe you love your career, but you also love a billion other things and you want to do them all, RIGHT NOW! Some people will tell you “You can have it all!” Don’t listen to them. It’s not true. I don’t even know what that means, honestly. More is not better. Space for reflection and down time will nourish you. You’ll need to balance what’s practical with what your gut is telling you. Sometimes those are the same thing. But sometimes practical will say “Earn more money” and your gut will say “but I’m tired and I just want to do art work and play the cello.” When that happens, breathe, be with yourself, and feel your way through it. I don’t have any answers, really.
One thing I’ve learned is it helps to have a guiding principle, which can be in place no matter what you’re doing. Then the *what* doesn’t matter so much. For now, my guiding principle is “Be compassionate, bring more love and kindness into the world.” I can practice that anywhere — in my interactions with clients and co-workers, when I parent you and Otto, when I’m in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s, when I do art work or write, when I contemplate what’s next in my life. When I focus on my guiding principle, the question of how to prioritize my time and activities is less stressful. Because in the end, what I want people to remember about me isn’t so much a list of things I accomplished, but how I was in the world, how I maybe helped bring some joy or compassion or kindness into someone’s life.
With great love,
Veronica is a consultant at Bigger Boat Consulting in Seattle, WA. She is taking her own advice and going on a 3-month sabbatical this spring to focus on writing, meditating, and deliberately not having a to-do list. Check out her acclaimed Dreamforce ’14 presentation Triggers for Admins: A Five-Step Framework for Creating Triggers, co-presented with fellow Girlforcer, Ashima Saigal.