For love or money? The great career selfie! So why do you work and why is career self-examination so important?
As you left secondary school, you decided what you wanted to do with your life. But not for the first time. You were asked that very same question hundreds of times over the years. A fun question with a myriad of interesting answers previously you delved into a world of career possibilities. Encouraged to be whatever you wanted, supported in your dreams and told that the world was your oyster your future career excited you. But in your final year of school as you stressed over exams the tone of the narrative changed.
Suddenly, you had to choose a course, train, be an apprentice or take a job. Since then, one thing led to the next and suddenly, you have been working for 20 years. Early in life, before you knew yourself, experienced the world, understood where you wanted to go, you choose a career, took a professional path or fell into a job.
For some the gamble worked out. If so, you feel satisfied in your role, go to work happy, content, challenged and engaged. Your workday offers you a sense of autonomy and discretion. Each day gives you a new opportunity to learn, and you feel part of a wider team. You feel satisfied that your work is meaningful. While it’s not all ‘disney’, you are happy with your career, your professional achievements and where your path leads. You want to burrow deeper into your field of expertise, climb the ladder, build your knowledge or delve into self-employment. You don’t want to retire; you like work and you have a career you love to live in. If you feel like this, you work for love not money (once you have enough money to pay the bills and live a comfortable life with those you love).
If that gamble, taken so early in life, didn’t work out you are not alone. A 2013 Gallup survey showed that there are twice as many ‘actively disengaged’ as ‘engaged’ workers in the world. Statistically, the gamble paid off for only 13% of employees worldwide. That means 63% of employees surveyed in 189 countries reported work as a source of frustration, angst and worry. In real terms, this means that 2 out of 3 adults spend 40 hours per week every month of every year doing something they don’t enjoy in places they would rather not be and/or with people they would rather not be with.
If you can identify with this picture or even a large part of it, you are working for money, not love. Your career selfie needs attention.
Years later you feel an intense pressure to stick with that decision made at such a young and often immature time in your life. Paralysed by so many thoughts, feelings, emotions and beliefs staying where you are is easier (a lot easier) than change. Not to mention the practical things that affect your decision making now that didn’t matter 20 years ago.
There is no denying it, finding the career path you want is not easy. But think back was it ever easy? Did you make clear conscious choices or did you ‘fall into’ your career? Or maybe you made decisions that deep down you knew were wrong yet you kept going? What was your decision-making process like all those years ago? Remember, you made these decisions before you had any evidence of the world of work. Now ask yourself, which ‘you’ is capable of making better and more informed professional decisions?
Yes, other people take the ‘leap’, and their story is inspiring. But remember hard work, perseverance and hours of self-examination went into crafting that inspiring story. Nothing happened overnight, and it’s unlikely there were moments of absolute clarity. Bottom line, it is never too late, and you are never too old to figure it out. That is why the career selfie is so important.
Self-examination and a shift in mindset are the tools you need. Career change, progression or transition while never easy it always practical and possible. What have you got to lose by engaging in some career self-examination?
By Sinead Brady