Weekend Wisdom

Kate Hammond DeOssie ’04

25
“Create your own definition of success.”
“That might sound like a cliché, but do it! Taking inventory of what motivates you will lead to a more fulfilling career and life.

“Three years into my big-bank job, I got the entrepreneurial itch. I wrestled with resigning — not only because I’d be abandoning a generous 401K and thick business cards in favor of a risky, perkless unknown — but also because I wasn’t used to quitting. Until then, my metrics of success were external: grades, promotions, bonuses. But the logical progression of ‘Do your best, advance to the next level, repeat’ suddenly felt two dimensional. I was confused, pulled between a ‘smart’ career choice and a satisfying one.

“When I face a complex question, I usually make a spreadsheet to break down the key parameters and get clarity. So I spreadsheet-ed how I measure success, and found that ‘maximizing my impact’ topped the list. Although I liked my job, I gave it a low impact score. So I put on my big girl pants and, drawing on the deep well of confidence to move beyond my comfort zone that was instilled at Kent Place, resigned to start a career strategy consultancy with my mom. Best decision ever.

“That spreadsheet expanded my career options beyond the ‘what’ to include ‘why’ and ‘how.’ Adding structure to soul searching liberated me to do the riskier (and, ultimately, more rewarding) thing.

“There are no practical steps to fulfillment; it’s personal and a moving target. Women often shoulder conflicting demands in search of ‘work/life balance,’ but professional options are evolving: Companies want to retain talent, and the flexible-work gig economy is booming. Breaking down how you measure success may add structure to your decisions — and help you move not just forward, but also in the right direction.”

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Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.