Take control of your career

These days, the traditional idea of careers (i.e. job for life, linear progress in a large corporate company) is on the slide. Therefore, it might even be time to question what ‘career’ actually means. In fact, Google serves up two definitions:

  1. An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress
  2. Move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way

The careers these days are somewhere between the two. So how do we get the best of both worlds? The way to do that is by placing your life at the centre of your career decisions.

Are you at a crossroads when it comes to your career? Do you feel trapped or stuck in your current role? If so, these top tips for navigating the chaotic confusion of careers today could be valuable.

1. Work out your true north

So firstly, you need to work out your true north, your anchor point, your next destination, which almost always relates to your purpose.  Now that purpose is almost certainly going to relate to your values. So this isn’t necessarily about picking a career path or type of job or industry, it’s working out the kind of stuff that you really enjoy, that you’re good at (or could become good at) and how you can point those strengths and skills and values towards something valuable in the world that will give you gainful employment.

2. Take control

You might expect your organisation or your boss to look after you, to provide you with a clear career path, to give you those opportunities that will ensure your next promotion. But that rarely happens, if ever. What’s far better is to take control of your career, and your life, by knowing how to communicate what it is you want to do to the people who will make those decisions and then put yourself in the best possible place for those opportunities to come to you. Demand them! Speak to all the right people, make it your mission to run your career rather than have others [not] run it for you.

3. Choose life

Pose yourself the question: ‘What do I want my life to be like?’ If you want to work a three day week because you have other important stuff to do in the other two days, why not? If you want to work a 6 month year because you want to spend the other 6 months on a new business idea, do consider it.

Think realistically about what you want from your life, work it out logistically and financially, and if it stacks up, do it. There will be compromises if you don’t work full time but for many people, these are compromises that they are more than happy to make in pursuit of the life they want.

4. Face your fears

You have to be prepared to face into your fears and overcome them. One common fear is not feeling you can try different careers or industries or roles because you don’t have the skills or experience; check if this is actually true – can you get re-trained? Have you really thought about the skills and experience you DO have and how those might be valued in a different context? Another common fear is rejection and this often stops people from following a new path. But what if, at the interview, they laugh me out of the room?

If you are clear on your strengths, your skills, how you want your life to be, people won’t laugh. They may not be able to accommodate you, but that’s you rejecting them as much as the other way around. The third fear is feeling alone or isolated in carving out a new career and life. Therefore, make sure you have a good support group around you, giving you advice, sanity checking, giving you support and encouragement and input before interviews.

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