We often hear the phrase “work to live, don’t live to work”, but it is not always that simple. According to recruitment expert and career advisor Christine Khor, a thriving career is paramount to a fulfilled, satisfied life.
“Your career not only pays your bills, but it creates your sense of purpose, your sense of self-worth, your ability to add value to the community and more.”
No matter your job, in order to progress in work (and life), there comes a time when change is necessary. This could be within the same industry or the brave may take on something completely different in a bid to shake up their world and truly go after their dreams. Reasons for seeking change are many and varied, seeking growth and challenge is a major factor, as is seeking greater responsibility and, of course, remuneration. Personal grievances can also create the desire to move on, especially when they are with management or close colleagues, and issues within the culture of the organisation or job insecurities can get many people thinking about how they spend their workdays.
However, changing jobs or careers can be daunting, and despite the positives for seeking a shift, many people simply choose to stay safe and maintain the status quo.
“When wanting to make a significant change such as changing industry or job function, the first thing people will need to get used to is rejection. Making big changes is not always easy and takes effort,” Christine said.
“Unfortunately, although organisations like to talk the talk around innovation, taking risk, creative thought etc, A lot of the time when they are looking to hire someone for a role, they often end up hiring the person “who has done it before”, not the person who wants to do it, could potentially do it, or would like to do it.”
Significant change may also require sacrifice from the individual. This may mean a sacrifice in title, perceived position or remuneration. “If you really want the change, what are you willing to sacrifice?” is a question Christine often asks.
“When moving to a different industry, the reality is that you may not actually have the skills. In your current role, you deserve the seniority and pay due to your experience and skills, but in a new industry or job function, you are going to be slower and they will need to teach you”.
“However, I often find that when someone takes a step back for their dream role, they can often move forward more quickly. This is because they already have the years of experience in aspects such as management, negotiation and influencing skills, as well as a wealth of life experience to add to the mix.”
If money is an issue, it is crucial to evaluate honestly how important the pay is to you and whether you can live off a reduced wage in order to move forward. Some may be discouraged to take a step back because of ego, but Christine encourages people in this situation to think carefully about what their personal ‘success’ is and what is more important – purpose, culture, learning, challenge and opportunity, for example, versus money for rewards rather than fulfillment.
“If you are staying in a role, or with an organisation you are not passionate about, but you are staying because of the money, aren’t you going backwards in your life, just so you don’t go backwards in your pay?”
As a coach, Christine advises anyone who is looking for a job or career change to resist reacting out of fear, take the emotion out of the decision and look at the hard facts. It is important to understand the reasons you are seeking change.
“I always ask people, are they running from something, or are they running to something. Are they seeking a change because they are running away from the existing, or is everything great but they need a new beginning? What’s really important when you are making any of these changes is understanding your motivations and not too quickly jumping to a conclusion that, for example, it’s my boss’ fault and if I go to a new place, I’m going to get a great boss. The reality is, that may not happen,” says Christine.
“I really encourage people to think broadly when it comes to a job or career change. Many people think the only way is up, whereas really you can go many places within an organisation.”
A sideways or horizontal move, rather than leaving an organisation, can be an effective way to enhance your career and provide yourself with a new challenge and learn new skills. This is a great option if your motivations are around personal development or avoiding becoming staid in your current role. For those aiming for leadership roles or perhaps starting their own company, learning each different area of a business is very beneficial in the long run as you can gain important insights into each facet of business, such as sales, marketing, manufacturing or HR.
At the end of the day a fulfilling career does not happen by accident – it takes planning, commitment, bravery, self-awareness, constant learning, risk and sacrifice. If you are yet to find that job or career that suits your values, needs and goals, research what you need to do and then create a plan to get there.
“I’m in my third career, so I’m a big advocate to it, but it needs to be something you are drawn to and not changing because you are running from something,” she says.
“I’m a big believer that anything is possible, but it depends on what level of sacrifice you are willing to make to get there, such as time you are willing to put into that industry or extra study, are you willing to take a pay cut or are you willing to volunteer to get extra experience? If you are passionate about trying something new, these are the key things that will get you there.”
To help answer these questions, Christine recommends you spend up to an hour each month thinking about your career and take it seriously. Jot down how you are feeling about your work, where you would like to be, what barriers to change you are facing and what steps you are taking to get you closer to your goals.
In fact, this is the reason Christine and her team started www.peeplcoach.com – on demand career coaching. Many of us often turn to family and friends for advice but this is usually not without emotion and background. Talking to an independent coach can really help if you are stuck in limbo and unsure of where or how you can change you career for the better.
“Be true to yourself. Sift through all of the opinions and advice and work out what works best for you. Pick and choose what suits you.”
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