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Career Sense Check – Are you heading in the right direction?
11 August 2015
From time to time it’s a good idea to sit back, reflect on life a little and figure out whether the career pathway we’re on still makes sense. Is it the right thing for us to be doing with our working day?
I’m not saying this is something we should do every week, or even every year. If that’s the case then the answer is pretty obvious and you should hit the eject button. No, I’m thinking it’s one of those things we should do every five years or so, or when the workplace changes through new management, restructuring or reorganisation.
Much has been written over the years about how lots of us spend more time at work than at home, so I’m not going there. What I will say is that it’s easy to slip into a career when we’re young and not really question whether it’s the best use of our talents or – wait for it – whether it makes us happy. Yep, I said it. Happy.
In the past I’ve been guilty of thinking more money means I’ll be happier, only to find that’s not the case. I was reminded of the folly of this thinking last week when I watched the 2006 Aussie movie Kenny. This mockumentary tells the tale of a humble Melbourne guy working in the, how do I say it, “waste management” industry. Kenny takes portable toilets to public events and deals with the contents of their patronage. Not the most glamorous of jobs, but Kenny has an amazing attitude towards his work and life in general despite being somewhat socially and financially disadvantaged. Underneath it all, he’s a happy guy.
We can all learn something from Kenny.
Our attitude towards work shouldn’t be based on how much money we earn, our job title, or trying to build some sense of self-worth in the eyes of others. After all how many times have we bought that new car only to find our eye wandering to the latest model six months later? Or taken a job thinking: “Wow, this is the pinnacle of all things awesome” then started scanning the job ads much sooner than we thought would happen.
I can hear a chorus of voices through the blogosphere saying: “That’s all well and good Pete, but in the real world there are bills to pay and kids to put through school so I can hardly ignore my responsibilities mate.” All true, so don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating everyone throws in their office job to become a basket weaver or a professional beachcomber for a living. What I am advocating is a sense check.
Take the time to step back and question what really matters to you and put things in perspective. Let’s not spend our lives chasing after the stuff that doesn’t, ultimately, make us happy.
If you do find yourself thinking about a career change, here are a few tips on how you might go about it:
1. Think before you act
These decisions are too important to be impulsive, especially if you have financial commitments and a lot invested into your current career. A healthy dose of reality is a good thing and stops us making stupid decisions.
2. Do your research
Look thoroughly into the industry you’re considering moving into. Is the grass actually greener over there? Perhaps take on some part time or project work in your new field to see whether it’s what you thought it would be.
3. Talk to your employer
If you feel your workplace is understanding and supportive of career changes, talk to them and see what might be available internally, or whether they can offer helpful advice.
4. Plan your move
If you need up-skilling or further education, consider doing that before you decide to move. Build a network and reach out to people who can help you transition, and most importantly involve your family and friends.
5. Do a risk assessment
The big question is whether the juice is worth the squeeze. Make sure it’s what you really want and the case to move on stacks up It takes a little courage but if you haven’t done a little reflecting on your career choice, try it. I think it’s healthy.