I’ve always thought I’ve had a successful career until…

career you love

Image courtesy of Burst

These words were spoken to me in a recent casual conversation with a friend. Most people who knew them would see my friend as having a successful career. They have a good job with a good salary working for a good company. They are highly efficient, organised and productive and have always been highly rated. Their comment therefore seemed out of place until they clarified further:

 ‘I’ve always thought I’ve had a successful career until I reminded myself that I’ve never really enjoyed my work. It’s made me think, what is success?’.

These words made perfect sense. Whilst their work allowed them to have a nice house, nice holidays and a comfortable lifestyle, they have said a number of times that if it wasn’t for money, they would leave straight away

On overhearing our conversation, another friend joined in to say, ‘That’s better than me. I have never thought that I’ve had a successful career and I haven’t enjoyed my work!  It pays the bills and that’s it’. Funny but not funny! 

Of course, needing to earn an income is a fact of life for most of us. However, it doesn’t need to be quite as black and white as working or not working, income or no income. It could be a case of earning money doing something that gives you enjoyment and personal satisfaction.

Work is a lot more than an exchange of skills and experience for money. The biggest exchange is our time. Our precious time as our life is time limited. We trade days, weeks, months and years of our life for money.

What else do we exchange when we work in a job that we don’t enjoy?:

  • Our energy
  • Our confidence 
  • Our health
  • Our happiness
  • Our sanity (emotional and mental health)
  • Our physical health (from sedentary working)
  • Our relationships
  • Our humour

If the fit isn’t right, we can lose ourselves!

Given the nature of my work, it’s not surprising that I see a lot of people who really don’t like their work. Whilst I generally find the word ‘hate’ a strong word, it perfectly describes the extent that some clients dislike their work. The negative spill-over of their work on the rest of their life is huge. Very often a new client will come in a desperate state: highly stressed, even visibly shaking and far removed from their confident former self. It’s like their lights have gone out and all they can see ahead is a long, dark, bleak tunnel of gloom. Feeling trapped with no escape, their worst nightmare is that they stay in their current job for the rest of their days

I and those who have braved a change know that it doesn’t need to be like this.  Rather than continuing the exhausting endless worry and rumination, by taking a more rational and objective look at the situation, clarity can quickly be gained and followed through with action.  

I have helped people from a range of professional backgrounds to take back control of their career and their life. Some will make major changes and change job, change sector, change career, start a business or a similar new start. For others, smaller changes are all that are needed to reignite passion and purpose. Some people make their changes all in one go whilst others will take baby steps to little by little improve their work and life.  

In line with the findings of the 2018 Mercer Global Talent Survey, in my experience there has been a major shift to people wanting more from their work than money. 

What do we now want? 

    • Flexible working (with many working parents rating this as more important than money)
    • Balance
    • A positive impact on health
    • Having a purpose
    • Making a difference
    • Doing something they enjoy

So how do you know whether you should just get your head down, accept that work pays the bills and put your effort into doing what you love outside of work (what my ‘successful career’ friend has decided is best for her to do, for now) or with the view that life is too short and spending approximately 2000 hours a year in work you detest is too high a price, put serious thought and effort into changing your work to love what you do and do what you love? 

Ask yourself these 3 powerful questions: 

    1. What are your top 3 wants from your job / work? e.g. purpose, enjoyment, money/ financial security, stability, flexibility, etc. Now ask yourself how well they match with your current job / work?

    2. If you won the lottery and did not need to work again what would you do work wise? (The chances are if you don’t enjoy your job, you will say, give it up. Consider this further however, what would you then do? How would you spend your days 3 years on?).

    3. If you could do anything you want for work, what would it be?

What insights have your answers thrown up?

I have made a number of career changes (both big and small) over the years as I followed my passion and purpose to carve out work I adore. I often say that if I won the lottery, I would still do what I do. I would likely add in other client groups who cannot afford to pay however I would still do what I do.

 I’ll leave you with this quote:

‘The most beautiful  fate, the most wonderful good fortune that can happen to any human being, is to be paid for doing that which he passionately loves to do’. 

Abraham H Maslow

If you, or anyone you know, has had enough and is ready for change, my next 8 week 1:1 Career Clarity Programme starts in January 2019 with bookings open on Monday 3rd December.  Get in touch today for an informal telephone chat to find out more.