Stepping Back in Order to Step Up Your Career

Stepping back or even just laterally in your career may cause anxiety, stress and other severe mental issues with some.  Leaving a job or company that you have been with for years can be as traumatizing as other major life events, such as marriage, divorce and death of a loved one.  Even if a particular job causes daily extreme emotional issues and we know there is probably something better or more rewarding out there, some of us will choose to remain in that work relationship, so as not to have to come out of our comfort zone.   

Me…well I may not have so far achieved the success as some people have plus have experienced some major personal and financial setbacks along the way…however, I have done some not so structured career moves that continue to work out in my best interest.  While my strategies may not be the best for everyone…they do tend to work well for some of us.  Some of them do require some hard work and sacrifice while others do not.  Here are my 5 top methods to step back in order to step up your career. 

Method #1 – Go back to school

Going to school as a fresh high school graduate or going back to school as an adult with a family and/or full-time job and multiple responsibilities is by far the best method to get yourself ahead in the workplace and your financial life goals.  Yes, I know it is very difficult as I have just recently completed my Bachelor’s Degree at 44 years old.  This is after raising two biological children plus a stepchild, in addition to going through divorce and breast cancer, all in my late thirties to early forties.  A college degree is accessible to anyone…all you need is the desire and motivation to do so. 

Don’t think you have the time or money to go to college? 

I disagree as there are ways around all of this…all you need to do is ask and research your options.  If you have no idea of where to begin, please reach out to me at and we will work on a free plan for you and your circumstances.

Method #2 – Work harder than everyone else

Working harder than everyone else is a phrase that can send even the most laid back of us, self-motivated individuals into a depressive, rebellious and complacent state of thinking “why do I have to work so hard and receive no reward while all of the lazy, incompetent and manipulative people in society constantly receive rewards for negative and dishonest behavior”?

Trust me…I totally agree with you…as I am one of those extremely self-motivated and high-achiever “roll-up-your-sleeves” type of people.  However, even on my most high-strung days of saying that “I am done with it all and not going to put forth more effort than the ones getting undeserved promotions and bonuses” that will spike your blood pressure to the point of wanting to quit and destroy everything you have worked so hard for, I still continue to manage working harder than most around me. 

This mentality of working harder than everyone else WILL eventually get you to where you want to be in life.    

Method #3 – Accept a lateral or lower-level/less paying job in a much larger organization

Now we get to the true “stepping back in order to step of your career” truth.  Sometimes leaving a long-term position to move to a lateral or lower level position, whether at your current employer or a new employer, can reap many future benefits.  While it may seem at first that you are either damaging your career and/or finances by moving backwards a position or so, this type of move can actually project you forward more than you ever imagined.  I have made this seemingly irrational career move a few times so far with very advantageous and rewarding results. 

A move from a 13-year going-nowhere accounting job making better than average pay for someone with a two-year accounting degree to an $8/hour less paying job at a new company awarded me with several bumps up in pay and position.  Yes, I had to suffer financially for about 6 to 9 months while making the lower pay but the end result was a boost in experience and industry competence level.  Also, after about 4 years, moved back in position again to a lower-level position, which then moved me into my current, much higher paying and strategic management role.  Sometimes it just takes some extreme confidence, gut and strive to get where you have always wanted to be. 

Method #4 – Move to a higher-level job in a smaller company where you “wear many hats”

Now…moving on to my most current role as Plant Controller/CFO of my current employer…this job definitely did not come easy.  In all reality, I was quickly thrown head first into fast moving rapid waters that did not allow for any instruction, guidance or space to come up for air.  This was a “sink or swim” position that I jumped into without knowing the outcome of whether I had the power to make it or not.  However, despite all of my fear and anxiety, I am now almost to the shore of “I survived the almost impossible and am still treading water 2 years later”.

My move from always working in very large corporate, thousands of employees and many layers, organizations to a much smaller approximately 40 employee company with very few org chart extensions, happened by chance.  A recruiter on LinkedIn reached out to me to ask if I knew of anyone looking for an accounting position so I chose to apply.  I immediately acquired the position within a few days and have been there since.  My current role requires me to “wear many hats” that I had never worn before in large, highly segregated position organizations.  However, this “wearing of many hats” has helped me to create a new and highly desirable resume full of broad business acumen and experience that I would almost never have received at my previous large employers. 

The key outcome here is that everyone should work for a much smaller company where you are tasked with many different roles, such as in my case…finance, human resources, safety, insurance and legal processes.  You will most definitely gain a much broader range of experience that most will not while working in a large company.  Where will all of this lead me?  At this point…I am not sure…but am confident that any of my future career swimming endeavors will prove to be even easier to overcome than any I have ever faced before.      

Method #5 – Take on assignments that are out of your job description

The final last method of reaching your career goals is to volunteer for any assignment that may be way out of your current job description.  By doing this, you may not reap immediate results, recognition or promotion but you are most definitely increasing the amount of experience on you resume.  Like I am doing now…volunteering to take on the facilitation of a new company safety program when my education and experience truly only involve accounting…you should jump on new projects like your life depends on it.  Your career will truly thank you at some point.  Plus…what does it hurt to gain new skills in showing that you can handle any task or project thrown your way? 

Absolutely nothing…

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