The workplace can often just feel like one long game with lots of rules. For many people following these rules requires changing perhaps to the point of doing things that you don’t really want to do.
So, how much should you change for the sake of career progression?
If you feel like you have to become someone else or play up to the idea of who people think that you should be to have the career you want, you probably won’t be happy when you get it.
Some people understand the game and are willing to play it whilst others find the cheat codes and figure out how to work things their favour. Then there are the ones who understand the game but aren’t willing to play it and lastly the ones that have no awareness of the game whatsoever.
I have a lot of beliefs about work and the kind of career I want.
In a past experience, after discovering the game and attempting to play it, I realised that I didn’t want to.
If you have to change to progress in your career it’ll only be worth it if you like the person you’re becoming. Playing the game can be fun but it can also be exhausting. It might be for some people but others are better off stopping and finding a place to work with a game they enjoy playing or better yet no game at all.
When it comes to mentors, managers and the people that help support us throughout our careers, we often don’t know what we need.
If you’re like me, the kind of person that needs a push, you’re progress will be hindered by someone that mollycoddles you. Perhaps you need someone that is kind yet stern who will support you but won’t allow you to hide.
Given the choice you would perhaps run from someone that you felt was stern and run towards someone who you felt was ‘nice’ and ‘kind’. Of course those 2 qualities are great but you might need a little more than that.
When it comes to your career, you’ll always have to push yourself to achieve what you want. However, the case may be that the best person to support to along that journey is the person you least expected.
I think that this matters and I think I think that this is important.
If you had a conversation with a lot of companies, particularly since this covid pandemic, they would have something to say about the importance of wellbeing.
We’re all aware that peoples mental health and general wellbeing has been impacted by the pandemic for various reasons. It could be a lack of social interaction, feeling lonely, the change in routine, fear of getting sick, job security, financial issues and more.
But it might not be the pandemic that is the issue. What about if you go to work and you’re treated poorly, ignored, lied to, there’s a lack of trust, you feel stifled, you’re constantly overlooked, people don’t listen to you and you don’t feel respected, you might not even be aware of the impact it can have or is having on you.
Those things can have a significant impact on a persons wellbeing, particularly when they’re happening regularly.
And sometimes in the workplace these things are very covert. When you speak up you get generic responses that lack sincerity but are somehow just enough. Just enough for you to feel like you were overreacting, that maybe you’re not trying hard enough and that things will be better in the future.
However, if you’ve given things a chance to get better and things haven’t improved then you need to decide if the job is actually worth it.
Are you willing to sacrifice your wellbeing for the sake of a job?
I think sometimes the fear we have of making the wrong choice is really just a sign that our mind is not clear. On the flipside, when you’re mind is not clouded over with stuff you’re able to be more spontaneous and quick thinking with your choices.
More often than we realise we know exactly what to do. However, we allow our thoughts to get carried away and we engage them even when we know it’s not helpful.
Maybe you want to pursue your love of baking but then you let your mind wonder. You start to think about money, what your friends will think, your parents being disappointed, people not getting it, worrying you’ll regret leaving your stressful well paying job, you tell yourself maybe baking is just a hobby or a fantasy career and you wonder if you’re good enough. The thoughts go on until you’ve talked yourself out of making a decision.
You now spend the coming months or even years trying to decide what to do. The truth is you’re just putting off doing exactly what you know you want to do.
Outside of all the things you’re obligated or committed to do, how much time do you spend on your interests?
It’s easy to be dedicated to your career because doing so often comes with rewards like praise, promotions and a pay rise. It’s easy to spend time on your ‘side hustle’ because doing so will hopefully bring it closer to being your main hustle.
But when it comes to your interests like neoplasticism, poetry and hand embroidery sometimes it can feel difficult to make the time when you don’t directly get anything back from it.
As much as your interests bring you great joy, they don’t don’t always come with specific tanigble rewards. And so if you find that you’re not making time for them, you may need to remind yourself why were interested in them the first place.
There’s a choice to be made that sometimes ends up being a sacrifice.
It’s possible to have security and happiness but people often make choices that prioritise one over the other.
They do this for reasons such as fear, a lack of self belief or because they have people relying on them.
It becomes difficult to choose to pursue something creative where you know you’ll go through a period of low finances and you have people to support. In cases like the choice is security because if you pick happiness the people that need you are now at risk.
Sometimes in life you do have to do things you might not want to do but it’s important that you do it for the right reasons. Choosing a path based on security because you have children to care for is very different from choosing security because you’re trying to appease your parents or impress other people.
I think that what we do for a living matters. When you have to wake up everyday and do something that you don’t enjoy, interact with people you don’t agree with, work late to meet deadlines and give your time and energy to work that you don’t care about, maybe you should be doing something else.
I think we’re lucky that we’re liberated enough to have some choice about what we do. We have options. We have the opportunity to change our lives if we’re not happy with where we’re at.
And so here are some reasons to quit your job and move on to something better:
- You no longer enjoy it
- It requires more than you’re willing to give
- You could get paid more at another company
- You’re constantly saying you want to quit
- You want to change careers
When you go to work, you want to feel like you’re of value. Perhaps not to the point where the whole place would fall apart without you but at least like what you contribute each day matters.
When a person wakes up, gets ready and goes to work, if they feel like they don’t need to be there or as though everything would seamlessly continue if they walked out, the person won’t take much care in the work they do.
And deep down or perhaps just beneath the surface we all know that often the care comes before the feeling of significance. It tends to start with taking pride in what you do and then the feeling of value or making a worthy contribution comes after.
But what if you’re doing your best and that feeling still never comes?
I think a big part of feeling of value in your job can come from external validation. This isn’t about knowing that you’re working hard and doing a great job but your manager or boss is undervaluing you. This is about how you feel about yourself and the role you play.
I think when a person doesn’t feel like they make a valuable contribution at work, they also start to feel a loss of interest in their work. When it seems like what you do doesn’t matter, what’s the point in caring?
If you don’t see the value in what you do and you’re not interested in it anymore then chances are you’re not happy either. And so the next step is to think about whether or not it’s time to move on to something new or to find a way to make things work.
When you think of a fresh start, what comes to mind?
A new city, a new stage in education, a new country, a new relationship, a new job, a promotion or a new home.
As much as those things are the beginning of new chapters in our lives, they don’t necessarily mark a fresh start. I think what matters so much more is the mindset. Sometimes people find that they move to a new city and get a new job but everything they wanted to escape from stays with them. They find themselves in a new city with the same old problems.
It’s possible to change your mindset, stay in the exact same place and still get the effects of a fresh start. Things like moving to a new city, changing your hair or getting a new job all serves as visual signifiers for ourselves and also to the outside world that something has changed.
Who you are does not have to be so rigid that you force yourself to be defined by ticking several boxes and sticking to them. You can be one thing today and another thing next week.
So often we go through life trying to find ourselves and figure out who we are so that we can settle into ourselves. Yet in doing so we end up limiting ourselves because maybe who you thought you were or wanted to be at 20 will be very different to who you evolve into in your 30s.
We focus on things like having a career that we work towards from our teen or even pre-teen years. We assume that the plans we made 10+ years ago won’t change. And even when they have changed we struggle to let go because it opens us up to changing and exploring ourselves once more. We aren’t always ready for that because there is societal pressure to figure yourself out and settle down.
You’re told that you need to have your life together by a certain age which sometimes leads to you making choices to do things that you don’t even really want to do. And if you get to 30 or 40 and you’re still exploring you’re considered somewhat fringe, unconventional and even looked down on.
But maybe you don’t value the things that other people value. Perhaps you’re very aware of the life that you could or could have lived but you’ve chosen another path that has lead to a deeper exploration of life and self. Something you’d have never had the option to do if you had chosen to give in to expectations of the way that life should be.