OK - So I said I would follow my last post with a 'vision check' for you all...
Well - here you go.
I was just talking with a friend. They came to me for some career advice. They are a teacher, happy in their job, fulfilled, and with a good package. The school provides accommodation for them, which means they have some spare cash to use to invest and to travel. All in all, a pretty good package for a teacher.
They have just seen a 'Head of Department' position advertised in a nearby school. This would be a 'promotion' and they wanted to know if I thought they should go for it.
I started by asking a simple question:
"Do you want to be a Head of Department?"
The answer they gave was interesting (although not altogether surprising to me):
"Well, it is the next step." - they said.
We then entered a discussion about this 'next step'.
You see, too many people are on a conveyor belt. It is as though once they start their careers, they move on in a pre-fixed route unable to get off and see that there are other ways of doing things.
It is like being stuck on a travelator at an airport which is taking you far away from the location you really want to go; but to make it even worse, you are not even aware that this is happening.
And THIS is why we have the problem:
We are trained to plan our careers - and then fit our lives around them. This means that we get onto a fixed path where we end up giving our lives (all that matters) to a career and leaving no time at all to do the things that actually interest us. We end up taking that pre-fixed and expected next step - and that next step is the one that society pressures us into.
My advice is to do things the other way up.
Plan your life - and then find a career path that will support it.
Instead of assuming that a certain 'promotion' as the right thing to do because it is the 'next step' - you need to ask yourself if such a promotion will actually serve your life. Will it provide more time freedom? Will it enable you to do more of the things you love doing? Will it free you from mundane tasks which suck the enjoyment out of work? Or will it be an anchor, which weighs heavily with responsibility and which sucks all spare time away?
Promotions and next steps like this do come with more money - but in traditional jobs, they always trade your time for money. This means that you are giving away your most precious resource. It is the one thing you will never have enough of and can never get back once it is gone.
You need to plan so that your money works for you - not so that you work for your money.
My friend then said something interesting:
"I do love it here - but I am worried that if I don't move soon I will be stuck."
Of course, what they were saying is that the modern way is to bounce around from one position to another and 'staying put' looks bad on a CV/Resume. However - I return to the start of the statement they made ... 'I do love it here'.
If you love something - why do you need to change it? It is the very definition of crazy to give up something you love simply because of what 'other' people expect of you.
My advice is always to think outside the box. Plan your life. Then fit your career choices around that life. Any other way will lead only to being stuck in a position which sucks all your time and does not allow you to do the very things you are working to achieve. Let's face it - we work to unlock other freedoms - not to work for its own sake.
So - what does your life look like? Is your career supporting it or is it forcing your life to be a way you do not want it to be? Are you in danger of simply 'taking the next step' because it is expected? Is it time you had a redesign?
It is time to take off the world's glasses and take another look. You do not have to fit the standard pattern.
Be daring - cut your own path. I promise it will be worth it!
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