The ‘Uncut Series’ is a set of audio out-takes that I recorded on the fly based around the 7 Job Search Pillars. The audio contains comment and valuable insight – on how to be happy at work – derived from personal and professional experiences that have helped me and many others discover a career path towards their dream job.
In a moment I’m going to talk you through five things that you need to look at before you embark upon or make any changes in your career. This is especially for people who have been unhappy for years within their career. When I say years I mean you may have worked for five or ten years, or even 15 or 20 years, and be really unhappy in the choices that you’ve made so far. Just to say, these five things could have drastic implications not only on your life and the happiness that you have in life, but if you don’t make these changes yourself, they could have implications on the life and the actual happiness of others in your life as well. I mean your children and those closest to you.
There are very few plausible excuses for not being able to find a career path in which you are happy, especially these days. There are so many methods and means of finding career paths, finding jobs, finding people, finding networks to really hone in on what it is you’re looking for. I’d go as far to say that it’s probably easier than it was 40, 50, 60 years ago. In fact, I think it’s definitely easier now than it has been because of the emergence and the development and growth of communication through the internet.
It means we have more choices now than we ever have before. If we don’t get onto the path of our desire, or at least get close to the path of our desire, then we have to look at ourselves. Because there will be nobody else to blame. I know for certain in my own situation my mom and her friends and elders as well who worked in the 1970s and 1980s didn’t have the choices that we have today. They didn’t have the tools. They didn’t have the know-how in many circumstances to find what it was they were looking for. In fact, that probably wasn’t their objective. In fact, I know from my personal situation that that wasn’t my mom’s objective at all.
Her objective was to find work to sustain the family. That sometimes meant, and more often than not meant, that she was doing things that she didn’t want to do, she didn’t enjoy doing. She was working with people who she didn’t want to work with. Work in that generation was about putting food on the table, or at least in my experience it was. Growing up in that situation means that, or meant that, we perhaps picked up on bad habits passed on from that generation to my generation. The bad habits being looking for jobs to sustain the household as opposed to looking for jobs that gave pleasure and happiness.
What you find is, and what I saw in a situation where my mom and some of her friends who weren’t happy in the jobs that they were doing, they would come home and you could see obviously they were trying to put on a positive face, a positive impression, and give the children a positive impression, give myself a positive impression. But you could see the impact it was having upon their state of mind. It was just really an attritional phase that they went through. In fact, more than a phase. It was an attritional ten, 20 years where I saw the effect that working in jobs that she didn’t enjoy … my mom, I saw the effect it had upon her.
She went from job to job with the aim of getting work to sustain the family. Of course I admire my mom because she put us first. I think it’s important to put your family first. I’m doing the same for my family now. There are lots of good habits that I learnt from my mom in her day to day work. She worked hard. She wasn’t the kind of person to shirk her responsibilities. She didn’t take days off work sick. She arrived on time. She was punctual. She planned. All of those things I learnt. All of those positive things I learnt from my mom.
Inadvertently I learned some quite negative aspects as well. I’ve just mentioned a few of those aspects. Those negative aspects, so to speak, as I said, are things that have been passed on from generation to generation. There comes a point where if you’re in a situation where you’re in a job just to pay the bills, the chances are that may have been passed on from generations gone-by. Having said that, it’s my responsibility to change that, to make a change for future generations in my family, my children, my family, people who are closest to me, and to show and demonstrate not only can I bring the positive aspects of the things that my mom did and her friends did in terms of the hard work. I can also change and turn around those negative aspects and turn them into positive traits and positive aspects to pass onto the future generations.
Something else to consider as well is that, as I said upfront, it’s up to you to make those changes. The tools to make those changes are not going to fall into your life. Chances are that the university that you’ve gone to will give you the basics in terms of your job search, will give you the basics in terms of your CV. The university won’t tell you and won’t physically show you, in many cases, the right way to look for a job. Recruitment consultants are not going to look for a job on your behalf. I’ve discussed this in previous podcasts. Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you’re going to walk into a job. Again, I say it is up to you to make those changes to benefit your future generations and to benefit yourself as well, to find that happiness that you’re striving for and that you want in your life.
There are several things that you can look out for to determine that you’re just not happy with your career. This might sound obvious, but when you’re in a situation where you’re not happy in your job, you tend to go through the motions. You tend to wake up every morning and just go to work and come home, and go to work and come home, and not really question why you’re not happy or not really see for yourself all of the reasons why you’re not happy. Therefore you don’t make the changes necessary.
If you’re at odds with your colleagues for example, if you don’t necessarily agree with the way that they work, and if that way of work is widespread throughout your situation, the place that you work, then that might be something that is making you unhappy. If you’re bored with your day to day tasks … there’s always going to be jobs in which there’s an element of work where we’re not quite engaged with that particular item of work. We can’t enjoy absolutely everything that we do. But if your situation is that you’re bored with most of what you do, than that’s another sign and another reason to be unhappy with work.
If you really disengage with the business, if you do things and you don’t really care about the end result or the impact it’s going to have on the business, and just have an attitude where you just really don’t care about what the business does, or don’t really feel as though you’re tuned in and want to really help take the business forward, then that’s another sign. How could you turn this around? It’s not going to be easy, but then nothing in life worth striving for is always going to be easy, or is ever easy.
Here are a few things that you can look out for and try to do to change things in your favor. The first thing you can do is to really understand the things that you enjoy doing, the skills. When I’m talking about things I mean the skills that you enjoy using. For example, I enjoy talking to people to understand their problems in their career, in their work, and helping them to find solutions so that they can be happier in their next role. You might enjoy typing. You might enjoy analysis. You might enjoy reading. You might enjoy programming. You might enjoy managing people. But it’s up to you to understand what it is that you enjoy, what skills you enjoy using.
Another thing you can do is really think about the experiences that you’ve had that are really lasting experiences. Those experiences can be either professional experiences or things that you’ve experienced outside of work. For me for example, one of the things that really sits with me and really had a resounding effect on my life and my career was when I got to travel abroad. I went to Germany. I went to Spain. I went to America for my career. I really, really enjoyed it. In my next role I might look for a job that is either abroad or a job that gives me the opportunity to travel abroad. Ask yourself what experiences that you’ve done either inside your current role or in previous roles, or outside of work, do you enjoy doing.
Another thing to really ask yourself is what are you really, really interested in. Something that can really give you a clue about your key interests is if, for example, you enjoy reading, have a look on your bookshelf to see the genre of books that you have. That can give you an indication, a small indication, of things that you like to do. Imagine for one minute that you are stranded on a desert island or about to be shipped off to a desert island, and you can only take one activity to do for a period of a month. What activity would that be, and can that activity translate itself to a professional role?
These are ways in which you can visualize and try to understand what it is you’re really interested in, to then combine that with the skills that I just mentioned and the experiences I just mentioned as well. Then there are your values. Don’t underestimate the power and the importance of values in making decisions in your career. Values are things that you believe are important in the way that you live and work. See if you can find people and businesses that have similar personal and professional values as yours. Then this will really help us to find the happiness that you’re looking for.
If you’re working for a business that doesn’t value family, for example, and you’re a mother or a father who really looks out for their children and really wants to be there for their children, then it’s probably not going to suit you to be working in a business that you have to work 40, 50, 60 hours per week. It may be time for you to find a business that has a similar value set to you where family is concerned. People you work with can also have an impact on the happiness that you experience in work, or the lack of happiness you experience in work. Because if you work with people who have a similar outlook to you, who have the similar way of work to you, who have similar interests to yours, then chances are you’re going to have a much more enjoyable experience with those people and you’re going to have a much more authentic relationship with those people, and outwardly yourself you’ll be a lot more authentic as well. It’s amazing how many people don’t have an authentic approach to the way that they work. They’re almost disguising their traits. They’re almost disguising what they like and what they don’t like. If you’re with similar people, then this shouldn’t not be the case or wouldn’t be the case.
Then finally, there’s remuneration. I know that money isn’t everything, and one of the things that I used to strive for when I was younger, I was in my early 20s, was just to earn as much money as I possibly could. I found that in time that hasn’t necessarily been the top of my list to make me happy. Yes, I want to make enough money, as much money as I possibly can, to keep my family and to put my children through university if they wanted to do that, or be able to take them out when I want to take them out. I think those are the ways in which money could make me happy or does make me happy, but it’s not my top priority in terms of earning as much money as I possibly can. Because I believe that if I get those other things right that I mentioned, so skills, the experiences, the interests, the values and the people, then the money will come. Because then I’ll have found my niche. I’ll have found an area where I can exercise my expertise, and I’ll become a lot more valuable to the people that I work with on a day to day basis. Therefore the money will come after that, but it’s not at the top of my agenda.
The ultimate for you is to actually look at those things that I just mentioned just now, those five or six things that I’ve just mentioned, and really sit down and think to yourself long and hard how you can begin to integrate them into your career. Because, as I said, it’s up to you to make that change. Nobody’s going to do it for you. If you don’t make that change, then you need to think about the impact it’s going to have on you, on your psyche, and, if you have a family, on the family that you have and the generations to come. Because any bad habits are much easier for them to pick up than the good habits. Work towards the good habits and teach your children, teach your peers, teach your friends the good habits, so that from generation to generation those good habits reciprocate.