Where am I now and am I in the right place?
I won’t be the only person who gets to a certain stage of their working life and start wondering what is it that they want to be doing for the rest of their career. It goes beyond the ‘having a bad day’ feeling or wishful thinking of a more exciting existence. It is a conscious decision to review where they are at, how they got there, being grateful for the progress made and being motivated by the opportunity of taking steps to a new chapter in their working life.
Not many people are doing the job they thought they would be when they left education years ago. Did we all get it so wrong? Have we made a lot of bad decisions and taken the wrong choice at crossroads in our working life? Probably not, but we are where we are as a realist will always tell you. There is no point looking back and thinking ‘I should have done this’ or ‘If only I did that’. You can’t change how you got to this point in time, but what you do now is a good way of determining which way you go next.
Generalism not specialisms
For me, I have become very much a generalist instead of a specialist. I am pretty good at a range of work areas, but haven’t had extensive experience in each of the areas. I can get by quite nicely in many of those areas should I choose to focus on those disciplines, but haven’t taken the leap yet in any such direction.
A change in my thinking and a challenge to the real me
I went on a very good training course at the end of last year and it was changed my outlook on how I see careers and how we fit into the working world as individuals. The course was called ‘Developing Your Personal Brand’ and it went into a range of areas and self-analytical exercised to help us identify who we are as people, what our identity is, and how we want to be seen as people. I won’t go into too much detail about the course, but you can find the details here – The Centre, London.
The course enabled me to examine what kind of roles I had previously desired, what kind of upbringing I had that may have helped lead me to where I am now in the workign world, what passions I may be suppressing and how we as people can all get lost in the corporate world and almost live two different personalities – our in-work me and our outside of work me. In a world where authenticity is so valuable and appreciated, why are we living a split existence for the sake of chasing a career or keeping in the same job roles?
The course inspired me at the time and has made me think long and hard ever since like no other course has before about what do I want to do? What can I do? What could I do if I made a few steps in a certain direction? What me do I want to be? What can I do? Who is the real me and which version of me am I most happy to be? Such big existential questions were so distant from my considerations as I took the train down to London that morning before the course, but have been with me ever since.
Questions to be answered if things are going to change
With this newly found wave of inspired thinking, I challenged myself to have some questions that needed brutally honest answers if it were to help me get to where I felt I should be for true happiness in my work. What had I been holding myself back from? Finding myself in a better position that I thought I was in was a nice surprise. I found that I had more skills and more opportunities to explore than I thought I would have. Quite often we leave one job to go to another very similar job. We travel the same working journey. We are told the career path that we ‘should’ be travelling along rather than looking for what makes us tick or what inspires the hidden genius inside us. This was a time of opportunity that I discovered that I wanted to explore as much as possible.
A career audit
Here are a few of the questions that I wrote down afterwards that I felt would help form the basis of a ‘career audit’ that I was going to conduct:
- Do you have any side hustles / interests outside of work where you feel differently to how you feel inside of work?
- What values have you inherited from your family? What kind of workplaces did your parents or family work in? Are you a risk taker or do you take the safer option?
- What kind of jobs have you wanted to do in the past but didn’t for whatever reason?
- What was it in those jobs that attracted you those roles?
- What are your values? What makes you who you are?
- List your skills. All of them!
- How many of them are you currently using in your job? How many are you fully using?
- What skills do you have that you aren’t utilising at work?
- Who benefits you doing what you do?
- Are you visible in what you do? Are you visible enough?
- What image do you give off when you’re at work? Enthused / run of the mill / not fussed?
- Are you aware of what people think of you? Do you ask them? Do you care?
- Can you summarise in one line WHO you are?
- Can you summarise in one paragraph WHAT you are all about?
- If you could describe the perfect role for you, what would it look like?
- What research could you be doing now to get you started on a journey there?
- Do you know anyone or find someone who does the kind of role you can see yourself doing?
- What do you think is holding you back from changing that actually isn’t holding you back?
- What steps would you need to take to get there?
- Do you want to be doing this kind of role in five or ten years’ time? What about one or two years?
Step forwards in a new direction
The challenge for anyone who has a dream of doing something different is getting started. Not everything is as simple as just applying for a different role or a different sector. Stepping stones are often needed.
You may find that …
- you need to do some online training in your spare time to get ready for a different role.
- you need to do some networking with people to find out more about whether the role you want is anything like the vision you have of it.
- you are actually quite happy where you are or have commitments that means you can’t make drastic changes.
- you have an open road ahead of you to determine your own future, a future that is authentically you and where you have taken the opportunity to change to a happier you that is the same inside of work as it is outside of work
- you look back and wonder why don’t more people do this ‘career audit’ or why we don’t ask ourselves these questions more often.
Look with your eyes, your head and your heart
What I believe is important is that we don’t look backwards with regret, but we look back to identify trends and lessons and that we then use that knowledge to plan our future accordingly to what will be authentically us and it then will be part of a plan of where we want to go.
If you don’t look back, you may not remember how you got where you are. If you don’t look forwards you may not realise how far off course you are going. Look back, look forwards, and most importantly look within yourself.