The career advice on this page is written for two groups. Those starting out on their career path and those considering a career change. The career advice might sometimes apply to one or other group, but regardless of the group you are in, you may find this advice useful anyway.
Decision making with regard to careers can be a tricky business. At any point in time you make decisions with the information you have to hand. So when people choose a particular job, at the time of choosing, there was something about that particular job that resonated with them. There was something that appealed and was enticing enough to get them into that position.
It used to be that when people settled into a job like this, it tended to be for life. So the career advice at the time was to get the right job with lots of benefits with a good retirement plan. Nowadays this is not so typical for several reasons.
There's a tendency to change career, not just job, three or four times in a lifetime. And because of the nature of our changing marketplace, there are actually very few 'secure' jobs. Even the various banks, the ultimate in 'secure jobs', are letting people go as technology takes over more and more of the routine tasks.
While these two things are obviously interrelated, there is also a move away from the drive to earn more and more money. People are beginning to put more importance on family and children than on work and money. It's becoming more important for them to have some kind of employment that allows them to have a personal life, some kind of work-life balance.
Much of the career advice given to children leaving school is to choose the subjects they are good at and take it forward from there. Nothing wrong with that.
However, what they actually love may not be taken into consideration. It may be something that is not on the school curriculum. There may be no jobs advertised in this particular domain. And even when the child is obviously gifted in a particular area, it is often still recommended that they go to college and get a degree (or even get an online college degree) in a subject that may have nothing at all to do with their passion. Or what it is that lets them live their own life.
To a large extent it is built into our education system. The whole of the education system is organized in very particular ways. We take instructions from the boss and learn to do as we are told. There are lunch breaks, rest room breaks, and other breaks as determined by the teachers. The teacher also determines what occurs in the classroom and when it occurs.
The perfect training ground for corporate life!
We learn in school that our own hopes and dreams, our own wishes and desires are not as important as those of the person in charge. None of this, of course, may be verbalized or explicitly taught. It is the underlying basis for everything that occurs in the education system. So not only is it not questioned, we learn by example and my living it, that it is true. Any career advice given from within the system is designed to maintain the system.
It's no wonder that it is so difficult and challenging for most people to step outside of the norm and make their own career choice. And yet it is what many people want most.
Well, if you want career change assistance in terms of the actual 'how to', the first thing is to know the 'You' that is making these decisions. If you're not sure what you should be doing, the question is do you have a strong sense of who you really are?
That may seem like a strange question but many people's sense of themselves is tied up with external stuff. The house they live in, the job they do, their friends, their family, the stuff they have. People often depend on these things to let them know that their life is stable. Take away somebody's car or mobile phone, for example, and a common expression is that they are 'lost without it'.
For most people, to lose a job they like is devastating. Why? Because doing this job on a regular basis is comfortable and stable and is used to let them know who they are. I am a postman. I am a policeman. I am an accountant. When people use this kind of language it indicates that they are mixing up who they are with what they do.
So it's not just useful, it's very important to have a strong internal sense of who you are. By this I mean there are strong internal signals and sensations that you are aware of, and that you can even generate when you need to, so that you know that you exist, that you're okay. You have a sense of the blood flowing in your veins. You feel your muscles relaxing and contracting.
And all this is completely independent of the outside world. So that regardless of where you are, or who you are with, or what's going on around you, you know who you are.
Now you're in a very strong position. A position of immense personal power.
Like this you can engage a powerful decision making model to make decisions about what you want to be doing. You have a sense of the things that are aligned with who you are. You know those things that will allow you to continue to be this way.
You know in your bones and muscles.
There's a lot of career advice about finding your passion, finding that one thing that will fulfil your life. Finding that thing around which you organise your life so that you can be happy and satisfied.
What if you're doing some of that already?
Because there's a particular thing that you do that you are brilliant at. In fact, you're so good at this, that you don't even think of it. It may even take somebody close to you to point it out to you. This would be the best career advice you could get!
It may be a hobby you have. It may be something you do every now and then. It may be an activity you love doing, but only do when you have the time.
It may be something you do incredibly well, but you don't think that you could make a living from it, so you dismiss it. Or other people, when they give you career advice, tell you it would be crazy to do this.
Joseph Campbell, Mythologist, philosopher and thinker of the last century puts it this way:
The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you really are happy -- not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what I call "following your bliss."