career change

Do you know what you want, and are you prepared to go and get it?

The headstone on Spike Milligan’s on his grave reads ‘I told you I was ill.’ Even after he was gone, he left a befitting legacy of his great comedic talent. In my view this is only surpassed by a famous blues singer in the USA whose headstone reads ‘Didn’t wake up this morning’ which is incredibly funny if you listen to the blues.

Not a cheerful way to start a blog, I know, but looking towards the end of our career may be a useful place to start to examine what choices we can make to ensure it has been the career, we would have wanted it to be.

I worked for Sir Chay Blyth CBE BEM for a number of years and one of his favourite stories was about imagining yourself lying on your death bed and looking at you toes and saying to yourself did I do it all? If the answer was NO, then you had BISHED it (a clean way of saying you had got it very wrong).

Quite simply put, had you made the right choices for you? Presumably not many of us are going to be lying on our deathbeds and be heard to say, ‘I wish I had worked harder.’ Notionally though, if you did, it probably means that you really did have the best career you could have had.  I am sure there are also many people who end their careers and ask themselves, what if?

I once asked a CEO, ‘What does your job mean to you, and how does it add value to your overall life goals? You can imagine my surprise when a month after our conversation I was summoned to the Board to explain why after our chat the CEO had resigned and was last seen wandering around Kenya in a loin cloth ‘finding himself.’ I was horrified by the summons but in the end, the Board agreed it was the best solution for both the individual and the company.

A couple attending a programme I ran at Henley Business School resigned from their city jobs and answered their calling to help children in Chad to have better access to clean water. Their actions were prompted by a workshop on personal values, which highlighted for them, that they were not doing what they really wanted to do with their lives.

So how do you make the right choices and have a fulfilling and productive career? First and foremost, do something you really enjoy and something that makes a difference. Second, work to your strengths so the job is compelling, and uses your natural talents, skills and knowledge. Get it right, and you will have endless energy and find it easy to excel.

If you work to your strengths and have purposeful work, you are likely to achieve what Maslow called Self Actualisation, the highest motivational state in his analysis of human needs. In other words, these are the people that reach the top of the motivational ladder on a daily basis by doing what they were put on the planet for. They have made the right choices for themselves and grabbed the career they wanted not accepted the career they were offered.

Let us continue that thought…. hands up all those who are doing the job that for them is the most stimulating and fulfilling job they could ever have imagined doing?

What is the changing world of work going to offer you in the immediate future?

  • Individual workloads are on the increase
  • Organisations are de-layering
  • More work is being outsourced, sometimes to different countries
  • Employees are working past the traditional retirement age
  • More people are working on flexible and short-term contracts
  • New skills are required

Managing your career has never been more important. Really think about what it is that is important to you. Work out how you can uniquely contribute and add value to whatever it is, you choose to do. Henry Ford said, ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t you’re right.’ It really is up to you to, so think hard about what you want to do, and then, go do it.

In the meantime, if you meet an incredibly happy chap in a loincloth in Kenya, ask him if it was worth it.

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