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Is Your Career by Default Or Design?

Do you love your work? Does it fulfil your needs for professional growth and personal connection? Do you wake up each morning and leap out of bed with a feeling of excited expectation when you think about your schedule for the day? Does it bring meaning to your life and a sense of pride for the contribution that you make?

Or perhaps you dread the sound of your alarm clock as it signals another day at the salt mines, leaving you wondering how it is you have ended up in a role that leaves you depleted, unfulfilled and uninspired.

If this sounds more like you… you are not alone.

As women, what we really want from our career is to be engaged in work that has real meaning, where we make a difference and that provides a platform to inspire.  We want our work to allow us space for personal and professional growth and we want to be seen, heard and valued.

For many women I speak to, their current role barely ticks any of these boxes and experiencing simple enjoyment from their career has eluded them in recent years.

They tell me that they started out with a clear plan mapped out ahead of them. It was exciting and the positions they held brought them daily challenges, recognition and career progression. Their career pretty much followed the plan for the first 10 years or so, with promotions, pay rises and great opportunities coming their way.

But then their luck dried up.

Yes… some put their career “success” down to “luck”, being in the right place at the right time. I don’t believe in pure luck. We create the opportunities that come our way by doing great work, letting people see what we are capable of and taking the odd risk or leap of faith to say yes to challenging projects.

Sarah is a classic example. She had worked at one of the big professional services firms since she was a new graduate. She worked her way up the corporate ladder, being well paid and recognised for her capabilities and achievements. Every couple of years she was “tapped on the shoulder” and offered a new position or greater responsibility.

Then one day she took a look around and noticed that she no longer loved what she was doing and wondered how she had ended up on a treadmill of late nights, interstate travel and purely going through the motions.

She had fallen into the trap of career by default rather than design.

Can you relate? Is your career by default or design?

Careers by default can work… for a time. But the vast majority will eventually lead nowhere special.

Given that our work takes up much of our waking time, it would make sense that we would make it a priority to shape our career to be the one we want. But so many of us don’t. We put more energy into planning our holidays than we do designing a career that is meaningful or fulfilling… let alone enjoyable.

It is time to make a choice; the choice to settle on another year of leaving your career up to chance or to decide that it is time for you to truly do what it takes to create a career that inspires and excites you.

Perhaps it is time to press pause on your busy schedule and take some time out to reflect.  

Here are some key questions to ask yourself as you begin creating a career by design.

  • What is it that you really want to be doing?
  • What aspects of your job do you love to do, and can you be doing more of that?
  • Does your current position tap into your greatest strengths and passions or are you working against your “natural flow”?
  • Ideally, what would you like your working day to look like? (ie: start time and finish time, does it include travel or not, does it include more flexible arrangements).
  • What are the roadblocks that are standing in your way?
  • How have your actions, behaviours and decisions contributed to your current level of career satisfaction or lack thereof?
  • How long have you allowed the status quo to prevail?

These questions are designed to be mulled over and to stimulate your thinking. Nothing will change unless you make it happen!

The final question to ask yourself is: How will it be if nothing has changed one year from now?

Next Steps

If you’ve realised that your career is more by default than design then let’s have a conversation about creating a plan for your fulfilling career. Book a Leadership Support Session with me here.

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