How to Navigate a Career Crossroads While Keeping Priorities In Order
Tell us about your journey to becoming a licensed professional counselor. Did you always see this as your career path?
When I was in junior high and high school, I always seemed to be the one people asked, “can I talk to you about something?” I never thought I had all of the answers, but I did care about the people and what they were going through. Even back then, my answer would be based on a biblical truth I had learned or was currently learning. That’s so often how The Lord works—He gives you opportunities to minister to others after He has taught you a Truth.
My Junior year in high school, I took some temperament and personality inventories and all of them pointed to “Counselor.” I remember keeping that in the back of my mind as I went off to college. It was during my undergraduate work that after careful and prayerful thought, I decided to pursue my graduate degree in counseling and go on to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. So, while I was always drawn to serving and helping others, it didn’t formally crystalize until I was in college. I believe that The Lord often gives you big-picture insight at times, but He also reveals things in stages—which compels you to trust Him with the timing.
Your current role as CEO of Parkridge is the perfect intersection of mental health and women’s health. Is this an area you always wanted to focus on, or did you fall into it, so to speak.
My desire to serve and help others provided a strong foundation for my work at Parkridge. I originally planned to be in private practice in the mental health field as an LPC; however, God had even bigger plans for me in a very specific field of ministry. The opportunities and responsibilities I have had over the last nearly 25 years have very much been more than I could have ever expected or imagined.
As the CEO of a non-profit, you are expected to be an “expert” in many areas, including leadership, management, finances, marketing, business, public relations, human relations, fundraising, strategic planning and so much more. One of the many things I love about my role as CEO is the variety it brings. I believe that it is essential for a leader to maintain a teachable spirit. Even after 25 years of service, there is still so much that I can and want to learn. I learned early on that when we surround ourselves with those who bring out the best in us, those who leverage their gifts and talents to collaborate with our mission and purpose, and those from whom we can learn—then God can and does use it to accomplish so much more than we could have done on our own.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role at Parkridge? What’s the most challenging aspect?
My role at Parkridge allows me to be a part of changing people’s lives—both now and for eternity. Because we have the freedom to speak the Truth in Love to those seeking help and answers, we literally can positively change the trajectory of their lives. Our clients and patients come to us in the midst of crises. We are able to provide them with hope and answers and provide holistic care (mind, body and spirit) when they need it most. Sometimes it can be a challenge dealing with tough, crisis situations on a daily basis—but since our ministry is frontlines work, we have to take the challenges with the blessings.
Have you had to take any risks when it comes to your career? What kind of advice would you give to a woman who is at a career crossroads?
For me, my biggest “risk” was when I was willing to give up my “career” for my family. I remember telling God that I was willing to walk away from my career if I needed to in order to be a better wife and mom, since I knew it was challenging to try to do it all. It was as if God was pleased with my willingness to give it up, so He made it work for me to stay in my career while my husband and I raised our family. There’s much more to that story, but that’s another speech for another day.
Striving to keep your priorities in order (for me, that’s my husband, then my children, then my career, then my consulting and speaking) can help reduce some of the heartache and exhaustion from trying to do and be all things to all people. If what I say “yes” to does not align with what I have prioritized in my life, then challenges, frustration and burnout are likely lurking around the corner. Is keeping your priorities in check easy?—not at all. Is it possible?—yes.
As I mentioned above, this is another good time to ask The Lord for wisdom to say “yes” to the great things and “no” to the things that someone else could or should do. If you’re at a career crossroads, ask God to reveal to you the things he has made you for, the opportunities that allow you to carry out your gifts and talents, the things that make you lean in out of excitement, and the things that give you an itching in your feet and a tug on your heart. He has created you for special things—seek Him to determine what that is. And remember that it may not look exactly what you thought it would look like.
If you could give 20 year old Holly any piece of advice, what would it be?
Keep dreaming big! Keep praying for wisdom, direction and discernment to differentiate between the good and God’s best! It WILL pay off. Oh, and wear sunscreen.