The ONE decision that will make or break your career.

Sometimes I post on other people’s blog platforms, particularly if I can reach many engineers. After all, the whole point of writing a book and starting this particular company was to reach as many engineers as I possibly can. The more people who can hear this message, the more we can change work culture for the better. Therefore, although it’s more work for me I try to share information when I’m able.

A new-to-me blogging/article platform I have dabbled in this fall is I find many of the articles to be well-written and informative. Since they are curated and reviewed, they also seem to be missing much of the click-bait and never-ending ads that plague some blogs (a personal pet peeve of mine, which is why is ad-free!). One of my favorite groups to follow on Medium is the Girls Who Code blog. I’m also an avid consumer of anything dealing with professional success and productivity.

Blog inspirations can sometimes come from unusual sources. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently started a podcast called Plot Points, and I was asked if I’d be willing to pick one of the topics to create a 60-second voice memo that could be aired during an episode. There were many topics to choose from, but the one I thought would be most interesting to explore was “the best decision that I’ve ever made in my career.”

If you’ve read She Engineers or my blogs, you know I can be a bit obsessed with success. What is for me? What is it for you? Why do we sometimes try to force our careers into a little box that someone else - usually a boss or manager - created? Why do we fear breaking out of a “prescribed path,” even when we know deep down it is the best thing for us?

We’ve all made many career decisions. There are the obvious big career decisions like our college major, who to work for, and when to find a new job. There are the big personal decisions that can dramatically affect our careers, like the lifestyle we want to live, the geographic locations we prefer, and our long-term partners or spouses.

There are minor (and sometimes embarrassing) decisions too, like when I tripped on own feet wearing platform sandals and sprained my ankle at work (true story, and I did it right before vacation too!). There are decisions we decide NOT to make, like being afraid to ask the boss for a raise, or freezing up in the moment instead of calling out sexist or unprofessional behavior.

At first, I thought it would be extremely difficult to determine which of the many decisions I had made so far had made the biggest difference in my career. Was it being to relocate to find the absolute best job for me after college graduation? Taking a pay cut to switch to a job in a firm more supportive of my long-term goals? Marrying someone who would be both very supportive of my career and willing to carry his fair share of child care and home chores?

These were all important decisions, but I couldn’t pick just one.

Then, I traced back to when I’ve felt lost and frustrated in my career, and what decisions I made at my lowest points to change direction. I realized that although most of the decisions listed above are important, they were simply a result of my “best decision”.

What was the best decision? Click HERE to read the entire Medium blog, or HERE to listen to the ASCE Episode 5 podcast (start at 16:40 if you just want the answer).

After you’ve listened or read, comment below if you agree. If not, let us know what best decision YOU have made so far in your career.