The key to happiness in your career

WhaBusinesspeople Running Towards Finish Linet is your current job role doing to you as a person, to your mind, character and relationships? Are you someone who always finds other people’s careers interesting compared to yours?  Have you assessed how you are doing lately? If not, why not?  Our career aspirations can change throughout life depending on experiences from our past, maturity into adulthood, and requirements to survive our chosen lifestyle.

Recently my 14 year old daughter has had to think about her career and future and to choose her GCSE options. Who actually knew what they wanted to do at that age?  It seems more of a minefield than it was when I was younger, particularly as the current government seems to keep changing the goal posts and schools seem also to be left in the dark, however, that’s a topic for another time.

Parenthood brings many challenges at different stages of a child growing up and as a parent I have always been conscious to keep happiness at the forefront of their minds and an “anything is possible” attitude to life.  In helping my daughter make her choices I have tried as much as possible to give her enough information so that she ultimately makes the decisions for herself. Her dream (at the moment) is to perform in the West End Musical theatre in London and perhaps eventually go to Broadway.  Whilst, many parents flippantly would say, “oh no, that could never happen for you”. I say “why not? Someone has to, why not you?” Sure, you will come across rejection, disappointment and failure along the way but by learning from these pitfalls and making the necessary tweaks this can enable you to adjust the path and change direction as you go.  After all, the yellow brick road was not straight and Dorothy learnt many lessons along her journey whilst experiencing the twists and turns of the land of Oz.

We have looked into course brochures and her school offered the children a career workshop that has educated them about what lifestyle they wish to have and how much money they would need in order to live it. All of these resources are important in making such decisions but deep down my feeling is as long as you follow what makes you happy everything will fall into place and if it doesn’t, I hear you ask, then you need to keep checking back by asking yourself some unearthing questions about your career.

So if any of you who are reading this are wishing they had had some insight into their future career before they got there and feel it is too late to change direction. Think again.

There are five dimensions of meaning to one’s career.

  1. Earning money
  2. Achieving status
  3. Making a difference
  4. Following your passions (interests)
  5. Using your talents (skills)

These five dimensions can be prioritised in various order depending on your own experiences, influencing factors (family) and perception of the world.

Earning money

Look at this in a broader perspective rather than going for a career that pays the best. How much income do you want/need? Are you setting your own monetary goals or complying with someone else’s? What is a comfortable living, and what careers might fulfill that? What career fields might suit you in other ways from which you could also earn a reasonable (from your perspective) salary?

Achieving status

As with the perception of money, your definition of status may be different to the next person’s. Take some time to determine your proudest moments at work and in life. That may give you some perspective of what constitutes “status” to you. Does your current position provide you with the sense of pride and status you desire? What in your current job do you take pride in?

Making a difference

Now without thinking I’ve gone all tree hugger on you, making a difference isn’t always about saving the whales or other voluntary projects; you can also make a difference at work. Think about a teacher who makes a difference every day to a pupil but the results aren’t always seen immediately. What about helping someone learn to cope with their debilitating anxiety or fear of public speaking? What does “making a difference” mean to you?  Are you perhaps underplaying the difference you make in your current job or would a different job provide more fulfillment for you in this area? Is making a difference important to you or do other factors trump this desire? Only you can decide.

Following your passions and interests

This is the area in which I have focused on with my daughter and her subject choices. What subjects do you love to learn about as these tend to be the subjects you do well in.  There is no doubt, if you love the job you are in you will love getting up in the morning and springing onto that commuter train and whistling as you go, however, it is not quite as simple as that to achieve this, there are compromises and creative solutions along the path to doing what we love.

Take a few minutes and ask yourself if you have found your right livelihood.  Are you pursuing what you love or have you found the love in what you do?  Because it might be that doing a less-than-ideal job that puts food on your family’s table and offers you the chance to travel on holidays to sunnier climates is one aspect of the love you can find in it.

Understanding talents, skills & passion

You need to have the right mix of talent and skill. You don’t actually need passion but if you want to get into what you love to do, it helps. Skill is something that you can learn. Talent is something that you naturally have. List down in three columns: all of your skills, talents and passion. When you are at your all-time best, what are you doing? And how can you find a job that lets you do more of that?

I have always been fascinated with the mind and how people behave.  Armed with my interpersonal skills and my talents of leading, motivating and inspiring people I have managed to re-carve a new career in the world of Behavioural Change.  Sure, I needed to do some extra training and education to get me here but the underlying skills, talent and passion have always been there. I just simply got the qualification to fill in the gaps. The skills and experience from my last career have all been transferable in one respect or another.

That’s the key to successful career transitioning: you take a job, figure out what you like best, and then look for a job that lets you do more of that.   Or you take a look at your skills, talents and passions and see what positions could work in line with those.

In my career path, my strength was Sales. I have always been told that I have good inter personal skills and these skills helped me to build rapport with my customers who I sold to and eventually through the years I was promoted up the ranks into a Senior role managing teams within the Financial Industry, earning a shed load of money.  However, the dis-loyal, cut-throat nature of the Corporate world did not sit well with me and I found it soul destroying, extremely stressful and at times unethical. One day the money was just not the priority and my happiness and health took precedence. I still had my good interpersonal skills and had picked up many other skills along the way in the Business world from training, coaching, mentoring and leadership so I re-trained and stepped into a new industry that I remain in today.  Ironically, coaching business men like my “old-self” who have been sucked in by the Corporate life, bigged up, and spat out the other side feeling hit by a train with the look of shock as to what to do next.

A poignant example that springs to mind where I have made a difference in someone’s life which touched me emotionally was when I coached a West end actor to overcome his performance nerves prior to starring in his first West End show. My client had achieved his “status” by being chosen by Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom he held in the highest regard in the Musical Theatre World but unfortunately, his nerves did not care about this, his body was struggling to calm down in such a highly charged situation. After teaching him some techniques and exercises along with visualisation he managed to overcome his fear and the show was a West End hit.  My moment of “making a difference” became apparent when I went with my family to watch him. I was so proud of his achievement that it brought tears to my eyes. How many people can say that about their job?

Now you have examined these dimensions. Which is most important? Which is least? How much of each is “enough” in your work? So going back to the original question, “What is your current job role doing to you as a person, to your mind, character and relationships?” Would making changes in these five dimensions change your life for the better? Is one area neglected at the expense of another? How can you fix that?  By doing this career MOT every so often it helps you keep on the right track and is the key to happiness in your career.

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