How I Reclaimed Control of My Career and Gave My Job Purpose

Netherlands Chapter

Emily Luijbregts, PMP, is a project manager in Breda, Netherlands.

Several years ago, I was at a crossroads in my career. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go or even if I wanted to be a project manager anymore. I ended up taking a sabbatical from my job and was fortunate enough to have one year where I could analyze what I wanted to do, what I enjoyed doing and where I wanted my career to go.

Around five years ago, I was burnt out. I was working between 60- to 80-hour weeks to try and maintain my projects—and working in an extremely stressful and competitive environment. I wanted and needed to prove myself as a project manager—and prove to myself that I was a success. This caused a vicious cycle for me, and it ended up with me having to take time off work to recover as I was mentally and physically exhausted.

I returned to my job and career, but from that moment I struggled to have any real direction; I was coasting along in my projects and delivering what was expected of me rather than pushing my career into the direction that I wanted it to go.

During my maternity leave, I had an extended period of leave and suddenly it was like a cloud had been lifted over my head. I could clearly see that I was at a crossroads, and it was the perfect opportunity to reclaim my career. I made sure that I was working and putting my career at the forefront of my mind.

I decided to work on the first step: What …

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