Working Transitions

Dear Career Santa...

Dear “Career Santa”….


As a child, I never actually wrote a letter to Santa. All through December I would lie in bed and imagine all the things that I wanted to find at the end of my bed on Christmas morning, always hoping that he could read my mind and he’d get the message. After all, Santa has magic powers doesn’t he? Amazingly, on Christmas morning, I always discovered that my wish list had appeared in reality. (Thank you Mum and Dad).

At this time of year, many people adopt a similar approach to career planning. They vow that next year, life at work will be so much better. They have a great wish list – more money, better prospects, nicer colleagues, less travel, more interesting work, better boss – but, usually, no real plan to turn these career wishes into reality.  Maybe they are relying on the career equivalent of Santa?

Achieving happiness and satisfaction at work can sometimes happen by chance, but, more often than not, it happens through careful thought and planning.

For all those wishing, hoping and praying that this time next year will bring happiness and fulfilment at work, here’s some of the things you could ask “Career Santa” for to make it come true in 2019.

Raised Self awareness

Very few of us are truly self aware. We are shaped by many things - our experience, our views, our fears - and it’s difficult to see yourself as others see you. From a career perspective, being self aware means understanding your real (not your self- perceived) strengths and what you have to offer in the workplace. It also means being honest with yourself about what truly makes you happy at work. For example, pushing yourself to achieve a senior level role, when you know that many of the tasks and responsibilities of that job have little appeal to you, is only going to make you unhappy and stressed.

Similarly, taking on a level of financial responsibility that requires you to do a job you hate just to earn the money you need,  sets you off on a path of misery for a large part of your life. Consider also that, if you are a free spirit, the benefits and possibilities of working within a large corporate organisation may well be offset by how constrained you will feel when your life at work means following a rigid set of rules and processes.

Of course, it can be hard to be honest with ourselves, but in the context of career planning it can be life changing. Really knowing yourself and what makes you happy is the foundation of making a great career plan and to getting your life and work in balance.

Increased Resilience

The need for increased resilience is more important than ever in the modern workplace of today. It’s usually described as the ability to quickly bounce back from adversity. In most people’s career there will come a time when something doesn’t work out as planned.  Maybe your organisation has gone through changes that have left your career path in tatters, or worse, you lost your job in 2018. Perhaps you didn’t get that promotion or pay rise that you felt you deserved.

If you are ending 2018 on a career low, it can feel very demotivating and sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do next. With a resilient mind-set and a positive approach, what you learn from these moments of career lows can provide the impetus to understand what you need to do to move forward positively in a new direction. Becoming more resilient is about understanding what is in your control. In tough times at work, it’s easy to feel that you are being “done unto” but there is very rarely a situation where you can’t make some personal choices that help you to take control.

You might not be able to prevent the change that could lead to the loss of your job, or change the boss that you don’t enjoy working with, but you can equip yourself to succeed in finding a new role next year by ensuring that you have a CV and Linked In profile that really sells you. You can make sure that you have re-connected with your network to let them know that you are interested in exploring opportunities. It’s all a matter of taking ownership of the things that are in your control.

If you want to make a positive change in your career, then the Christmas break is the perfect time to lay the foundations of success.

More Adaptability

Adaptability is closely linked to resilience. If you are resilient enough to get yourself out of your trough of despair, the learns from your experience can help you to shape what you do next.

Being more adaptable can really expand your career horizons. For example, finding yourself made redundant after lengthy service in one industry may seem like a disaster at first.  However, these extreme situations can often prove the catalyst that forces you to look at roles and industries you would never have considered before and suddenly a whole new world of possibilities starts to open up.

If you think about the skills and achievements you have as assets that you can transfer to a range of other role types, then your career plan takes a whole new route that you may never have thought possible before. Understanding your transferable skills and being able to articulate this clearly to prospective employers, shapes a new career plan that you can continue to adapt as you progress.

Think also about different working patterns. You may have worked standard office hours until now but if you are hankering after more freedom, what alternatives have you considered? You may feel financially bound to continue but have you thought about whether you could earn at least the same money by working differently? Working patterns are more flexible than ever before and employers are increasingly open to variety so it’s worth considering whether working more flexibly would make you happier, or open up other opportunities for you.

There may be many more things on your own list for the Career Santa but whatever your hopes and wishes for your career in 2019 at least give yourself a fighting chance and make a plan. Instead of just hoping that things will be better next year, grab a mince pie and  a glass of something bubbly ( just one!), settle down with a notebook or in front of a screen and start creating the career plan that will see you make progress in achieving your career goals next year. Maybe you could even post it to Santa – you never know what could happen……..

 

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Author
Working Transitions
Date
13 December 2018
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