Going Backwards to Go Forwards

Sometime during my trip to Costa Rica, life hit me square in the face like a ton of bricks. I woke up wide-eyed with anxiety and immense pressure to succeed.

The anxiety wasn’t driven from “figuring out my future” or long-term planning. Instead I began to think about what I do and why I do it.

A simple question:

Do I love what I do?

And if I don’t love what I do… then why am I doing it?

My answer is: I don’t know.

{…insert quarter life crisis. 28 this year by the way.}

When I tell people that I don’t think I’ll be working in HR long-term, they look at me in shock. They always say: “But you’re good at it.”

Well let me tell you… that’s not enough. And it’s never a reason to stay in your profession. Strengths should be aligned with passion. As much as I hate the word “passion” …it’ll be easiest to use to explain my point.

When people ask me why I like HR, my answer is:

“I like to help people. I like to give people tools to ensure they are successful in their roles.”

Um, I’m pretty sure my answer should be: “I really like policy and procedure manuals” or “benefits plans blow my mind” or “I dreamt of a compensation structure last night.” Truth. I’m not your typical HR professional and that’s always been why I’ve done well in the industry. I’ve gained momentum from being different and providing fresh ‘GenY’ perspective. I often consider “fresh” to just be mouthy and opinionated. :)

I love lots of what I do, but when I think about my profession… I’ve come to realize, it’s just not me. The profession has been built upon structure, policies and providing information in a uniform way. Yes, I am blessed to work with people who understand progressive HR… who understand that the function can have a place on the management team… and who truly respect my opinion. But the truth is… the ‘profession’ and the HR industry aren’t going to change for a very long time.

The profession isn’t progressive — and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying to conform to it.

I’m pretty sure my ‘passion’ is education.

I love to teach.

I love to lead.

I love to think outside the box, brainstorm creative solutions and solve problems.

I love to empower people to make positive change.

I love to help people grow.

So what does this mean?

In the short-term, I’m not sure. I am completely committed to my clients, my teams and the projects on my plate for the next few years. I’m honored to learn from great companies with strong leaders. I have been given the opportunity to lead JCI Vancouver as 2012 Chapter President which will no doubt develop my leadership skills. I have some exciting opportunities in the works — including attending the UN Global Partnership Summit in New York and teaching entrepreneurship/social enterprise to youth for 4 weeks in India.

Often I lecture to business students at Canadian universities. We talk about how Generation Y (and some of Generation X) will have a number of “careers” in their lifetime and they often don’t end up in the field they specialized in. I know the topics inside and out — yet it takes me ages to apply it to my own life. :)

I was groomed to be HR for the rest of my life. I completed a Diploma in HR, then a Degree in HR. I completed my HR designation.  In 2010, I was given an award by the province for being a rising star in the industry. The last 8 years of my life have been dedicated to the profession.

By no means was it time wasted… it all built me into who I am today.

In 2012, I need to think through how I can tie my strengths, commitment to education and interest in changing the world — into some sort of a career.

I’m 100% committed to the land of entrepreneurship, just need to rethink the day-to-day.

My advice to you (and me):

When you’re sorting out what life throws at you…
Don’t worry what others will think.
Think about you need and go out there and get it.

Deep breath.


  1. Sue Dickie February 25, 2012

    I think you need ‘I love to write’ to that list and you’re good at it!

  2. Pippa Martin-St. Onge February 25, 2012

    You need to chill

  3. Jillian Walker February 25, 2012

    Oh really? Perhaps you should tell me how. ;)

  4. Jillian Walker February 25, 2012

    Thank you. I truly love to write as well. :)

  5. Pippa Martin-St. Onge February 25, 2012

    I use deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, hot baths and aroma therapy. I don’t blame you for wanting to get out of HR. Nobody really respects it too much.

  6. Jillian Walker February 25, 2012

    Hmm… all good ideas! I love ashtanga yoga – when I’m good, I go 3 times a week. I like a good massage or acupuncture appointment too!

  7. Vanessa February 26, 2012

    That final quote is perfect – totally what I need to focus on this week. Time to go get it!

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