How I chose my job

Following my autism diagnosis aged 27, a lot of things suddenly made sense. I made some big life changes as a result, including a change of job. Below I’ve shared the process I went through to make that decision, and the positive impact it has had.

Prior to my autism diagnosis, I was very focused on my career. I was working in Tech, leading a small department, and on a “progress into managing more people” sort of track. I was succeeding. By my own internal measure of what I “should” be doing with my life, anyway…

I was also exhausted. In a constant cycle of burnout. Having periods of time off work when it all got too much (often). Dreading most if not all of the interactions I had with colleagues. Turning up to the office and having to go straight back home because I was in tears with absolutely no clue why.

Eventually, through therapy, I ended up seeking an autism diagnosis. It changed everything.

It wasn’t straightforward, though… I ended up signed off work for three months around the time of my diagnosis. I physically could not carry on with work anymore. I was crying all the time, and struggling to process everything I was going through. It certainly didn’t help that I was living alone during a COVID lockdown at the time.

There was a long period of recalibration. I eventually went back to my job, with fewer duties and some adjustments. But it still wasn’t sustainable.

Getting my diagnosis made one thing very clear: all of my past decisions have been based on faulty data.

I had been doing what I thought I “should”, rather than what was sustainable for me. Not understanding the impact that any of it was having, or why. I had been missing a huge part of the equation.

To help with my transition back to work, I was granted some time with a coach who specialises in autism at work. We worked through my strengths (e.g. data analysis), my challenges (e.g. managing people), and wrote out a pros and cons list of all the options I had.

I was fortunate to have a couple of potential jobs that I could work towards, including a less people-ey role within the organisation I was already working at. Once we’d written out the pros and cons of each (e.g. a pro of staying where I was = I already know everyone and understand the business; a con of staying where I was = it is a fast-paced Tech company, meaning a potentially high rate of change in any role).