I remember being fifteen and being told by my school career counsellor that I needed to know which career I wanted to pursue. It felt like a lot of pressure. Surely I had a lot of time still to figure this out….
Many of us feel directionless when it comes to considering a lifelong career. And watching our friends so passionately pursue their career interests can add to the pressure. I mean, how long can you simply drift along before you are officially labelled a failure? While some of us know from an early age that we want to be an accountant or a ski instructor, others of us need to go about our career planning a little differently.
Vital to planning a successful, and happy, career is the understanding of the following; your abilities and skills, your interests, and your values. This should be your starting point to pinpointing which careers your will find fulfilling.
To define what you are good at, take a pen and paper and begin to make a list of your strengths, your passions and your beliefs. Perhaps you work great in a team, are an engaging story teller, or a phenomenal cross country runner. Cataloguing your interest may show that you enjoy all sports, love the theatre, and like to spend your weekends travelling around. You may find that you are passionate about helping others who are disadvantaged, that you place high importance on gaining a good education, and are a strong advocate of cultural inclusion. What careers do you think would suit you? Perhaps you are destined for a stage career, perhaps you’re a humanitarian wanting to work in third world countries, or maybe personal training is your calling. An analysis of your strengths, interests and values may point you in several directions, which you path you take will be determined by your level of interest in those fields.
This is not an exercise for those fresh out of high school, but one for everyone. In fact, it’s a practice worth engaging in every few years as your interests will not stay stagnant throughout your life. Those of you who have experienced radically different careers know what I am talking about. Some of you have gone from building houses to fighting fires. Well, maybe not many of you, but you catch my drift. And you changed careers because you were bored, or unhappy, or unchallenged, or felt like you were wasting your time as your true calling was to be an architect and not a chef. Some of us fell into our careers, or were pushed. Bottom line, it wasn’t our decision to take on the role we have been doing for the past five years of our lives. And since we spend so much of our time and energy travelling to and from and executing a job, it inevitably plays a huge role in our lives. All the more reason that it is important to be doing something we love.
You don’t want to feel frustrated, burnt out, stressed, depressed or angry because you know that tomorrow you have to get up and do it all again! No!! You need somewhere to go everyday where you feel excited. Somewhere that leaves you with a sense of achievement. A place that makes you happy. If your occupation doesn’t even remotely leave you feeling a sense of satisfaction, then perhaps you need to find yourself a piece of paper, a pen, and the courage to face the reality that you need to make some major changes in your working life in order to find a reason to leap out of bed each day. It is not always easy to face the reality that you are not happy in your job role, particularly if you have been very successful. It’s even more difficult to take action and switch careers. But if you want to be happy and healthy, then a little bravery, a lot of support from those close to you, and belief in yourself is all you need to make a successful transition.
Sometimes we don’t start our careers on the right path. Sometimes we do follow the track that is meant for us, but along the way we realise that we need a change of scenery. While the crossover may be a little bumpy, the end result is often worth the effort. So if you’re considering a career change, let go of you fears and insecurities, focus on the possibilities and take the leap. Don’t get bogged down in moaning about another bad day at the office, clear your mind of the worries your current job gives you and consider what you would rather be doing….the options will drive you to a more rewarding life.