Have you lost your enthusiasm for your job? Is it no longer ticking the boxes? Are you berating yourself for making bad career decisions for the position you now find yourself in, stuck in a career that is no longer working for you? Using my own story as an example here is an insight into what may be happening.
Thinking back to my priorities when I first started entering the world of work, the emphasis was about finding something I would enjoy and I could contemplate doing for a long period of time. This was in the early ’90s, riding on the back on the boom years, success was measured by how much you earned and how far up the ladder you could go. Moving companies was increasingly common but not necessarily changing careers. My mission was to find a profession I believed I would enjoy and getting my foot in the door.
After years of living on a student budget of restricting my shopping, and my social life, I began to enjoy having money and being able to make more extravagant purchases. Also, I was from a farming family, the first to go to university and was heavily praised for my success, which I relished. As stability and routine crept into my life so did the desire to earn more and to upgrade the car and get my foot on the property ladder. Recognition and money quickly became my new priorities in my career decision-making process. Moving sideways or working reduced hours and taking a pay cut were not options. I can remember setting myself targets I want to earn 50k before I am 30, I want to earn double my age.
With these bigger pay packets came increased responsibility. Initially, I wasn’t overly bothered about managing people, I ended up agreeing albeit reluctantly to take on a secondment for my first management role covering maternity leave. Because people believed in me I felt almost obliged to do it. I soon realised I enjoyed it, I liked being the boss, and while not everyone may agree I considered this to be a strength of mine. This was how my priorities changed from money to responsibility and status. I didn’t chase an ever-increasing salary I did want to be the best I could be and between you and me I wanted to be the best amongst my peers and so instead of changing companies to increase my earnings I ended up staying within the organisation and worked on my profile and credibility.
But the boredom began to set in and a new priority was moved up the list, which was the need to feel challenged and to have variety. Opportunities came up to move business areas, to support a new business which brought a different agenda and added to my portfolio of skills and experience. I then got the chance to work overseas which added a cultural dimension and the status of having an international career. Projects would continue to provide interest but then in my mid 30’s, I hit a wall and something needed to change, but I had no idea what.
What had once motivated me, money, status, people leadership, global employers were no longer ticking the boxes. What was happening, was I having a midlife crisis? Reflecting back it was more of the same, once I had reached a certain earning level offering me more wasn’t cutting it. You can only manage so many people and do a great job and as I moved up the organisation hierarchy I found myself being pulled increasingly into work that was no longer of interest and not aligned to my personal values.
It was back to the drawing board. It was time to go full circle and like when I first started working consider what I would enjoy. What was I enthusiastic about, what intrigued me and which of my skills did I get the most out of using? Doing something that was aligned to who I really was and what I got a buzz from became my new priority.
Perhaps you are wondering why I am sharing this with you, other than a piece of indulgent reminiscing! My story is a prime example of how our priorities change what once was important and were key motivators are replaced as our life and circumstance take on new dimensions. Often clients will think that they have made bad choices in the past, that they have chosen the wrong career. But it isn’t about bad decisions it about changing priorities, what was once important to them is taking a back seat. For example, if you are a parent your priorities may be about providing a stable family environment and therefore this has been reflected in your career, the need to earn a certain amount the need to work for a secure company to be an employee as opposed to self-employed. The need to be at home when the kids are home. But as your offsprings become more independent those needs lessen and instead, it may be about finding greater fulfilment in your work, you may have the space to follow a dream, or to retrain or to finally set that business up. What you want from your working life has changed. Your needs and priorities have shifted and to find fulfilment in your career it needs to also shift so it can meet these changes.
My message to you is this, you didn’t make bad decisions, your career history has served you well and given you what you needed at the time, but now is the next chapter, now is your time. What’s your next step?
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