Love or loathe St Valentine’s Day, no-one questions the importance of positive personal relationships and how they make us feel happy, secure and more able to cope with day-to-day challenges.
But what about that other vital relationship most of us have? That with our careers? Just like a personal relationship, you can find your career exciting or disappointing, happy or boring and while jobs can be short-lived, your career tends to span many years. Any long-term relationship requires effort, some compromise and is based on values and a sense of purpose. They also require effort and an ability to ride out the highs and lows that inevitably happen over time. Whatever stage of your career you’re at and whether you’re at a low or high point, you can take steps to develop it to make sure that you reach your potential and feel happy at work.
Sometimes, your career path is right but the role you currently have isn’t a good fit. When thinking about careers, it’s often helpful to do a quick heat check to see how you feel about your current job. Try the light-hearted quiz below to see how hot you think your current job is!
1. It’s Tuesday 14 February and you’re off to work. Do you feel:
a) happy – if you could send your job a Valentine’s card, you would
b) indifferent – not sure what all the fuss is about
c) depressed – no idea how people going into work can look happy.
2. You get home from work and are telling your partner/friend/pet about your day. Do you usually:
b) say it was ok, nothing really interesting happened. Now, how was your day?
c) reach for the first bottle of wine and offload for the next 3 hours about your awful day, week, job – and if there’s enough time/wine – life!
a) annoy partner/friend/pet with a breathless monologue about just how fantastic your day was.
3. You’re at work and the boss asks to see you. Do you think:
c) now what have I done wrong?
a) oh good. Time for a bonus/promotion/exciting new project!
b) wonder what’s going on this time – another mess to solve or dreadful team-building session with the losers down the corridor.
4. You’re asked to represent the company you work for at a conference. Do you feel:
c) thoroughly annoyed – spending all day with no lunch break, pretending to be cheerful will be hell
b) think it’s a good way of not working for a day while still being paid
a) delighted to have been chosen to represent your organisation.
5. Would you recommend your job to a really good friend (and there’s no incentive involved)
If you scored mainly a’s
Lucky you. Your relationship is hot. Perhaps you have just had a promotion or started a new job and are feeling the excitement of a new relationship. Or you have found the perfect role. You feel positive about the future and your career is contributing to your overall happiness and well-being. Now you have the mental space and energy to think about how you would like your career to develop and plan what you can do to make this happen. (link to career development info and Working Career website section on career development).
If you scored mainly b’s
You may have been in your current job a long time. Or you simply haven’t been able to identify a job or career opportunity which will give you the chance to achieve your full potential. It’s time to take action. (what should you do – jot down where you would like to be in x years time/ update cv and LinkedIn to reflect your skills and competencies and also the sort of role you would like next). Links to relevant articles.
If you scored mainly c’s
The Arctic is warmer than your current relationship with your career. But don’t worry. You’re not alone! Many have been in this situation. You really do need to move on. But how? The first step is to identify where the problem lies- simply with the role itself, perhaps it’s a poor fit for your skills; or the organisation’s culture is a poor fit for you; or maybe the change needed is more fundamental and that you need to look at what makes you happy and see if this career is the right choice for you. (links to help).
Most of us spend a huge proportion of our lives at work and yet we spend relatively little time nurturing our careers. You can take control of your career and its development. Tying your career to your personal life objectives can help you fulfil your potential and improve your wellbeing. Set yourself a task for today – to start to identify your life and career goals. Set yourself a challenge – to be in a job (and career) that makes you happy by next Valentine’s Day.