A new and exciting departure for the Grow Your Career Series, this week’s article, forms the first of a four-week series around the phenomenon of career chaos. A phase of the professional career curve that research indicates between 73% and 80% of us feel at some point in our working life. Impossible to address in one article over the next four weeks I will walk you through a 4-week plan to manage your way out of career chaos.
What is Career Chaos?
Your work and your career are important and closely linked with your identity. Given that you spend about 90,000 hours at work in your lifetime, unsurprisingly, your career needs to be more than a paycheck. If your work week is a source of grind and drudgery rather than a place of engaged meaning you are suffering from career chaos. According to Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are professionally engaged. Meaning that approximately 87% of workers suffer from some form of career chaos. The following are some of the most prevalent symptoms associated with this distressing phenomenon.
Time Warped by your 17-year-old career self.
Decisions your 17-year-old self-made, as you sat on the cusp of adulthood, still impact your professional life. As you look back you feel bound by that decision, the training that it led to and the qualifications you have since gained. You feel a lack of control over your professional self and you cannot face the next 40 years doing the same thing. Unhappy, stuck, paralysed and not skilled with the tools to manage your way out of the path your 17-year-old self chose, you are in the midst of career chaos.
Rule of Duty
Your work week is a dull, miserable journey towards the weekend. Deadened to any positives in your job you see only the negative. You make a basic and fundamental distinction between work and hobbies, holding the belief that pleasure is for hobbies and pain is for work. You constantly, and enviously, compare your professional self to others who seem happier, more content and engaged in their work. Yet you feel duty bound to continue, so you just get on with it.
Something More Syndrome
You have a strong sense that professionally you are made for ‘something more’. A professional role that is more meaningful, more challenging, more stimulating, more inspiring, more exciting, more energising and more engaging. You don’t get to use your most innate and natural skill set at work. Conscious of what others might think, you feel that you should be grateful for what you have, yet you want, or need, something more.
Like the crush, you have on the handsome stranger on your daily commute. Your career crush is a job, a career, an industry or a particular company that holds all the answers to your professional woes. Everyone close to you knows about your crush. You have invested your training, time and experience in your current role and you have no idea how to build your exit strategy.
Inability to Connect the Dots
Gradually you have lost your confidence doing something that you don’t enjoy. Unable to come up with a realistic alternative you fail to connect the dots between your professional self now and your future self. In fact, the thought induces panic, upset and stress. An otherwise able person, you are more than capable of helping others yet you struggle to find penetrating insights into your own career.
Impacts your personally
Your feelings about your job and your career impacts every other aspect of your life. Your relationships, your friendships, your confidence and your ability to think. You don’t sleep well, you have no energy, you are emotional, and you have a short fuse. Fear not, as you being to engage with your feelings around career chaos you emerge newly invigorated with the skills needed for the next phase of your career.
Next week begins the practical work to help you make sense of your career chaos. Starting with your professional non-negotiables, you will begin to understand and use them as a decision-making platform. Over the next seven days, plan to set aside 60 seconds per day to consider your non-negotiables. This will mark the first active steps towards positive progressive career management.
By Sinead Brady