In your lifetime you will, on average, spend nearly 90,000 hours at work. Yes -NINETY thousand. That’s a huge part of your life. Doesn’t it therefore make sense to manage that career to make sure it’s a healthy and happy one, and that it nourishes you during your lifetime?
The 90,000 hours mentioned above does assume one thing – that you manage to maintain consistent employment throughout your working life. Unfortunately there are many career nasties that can get in the way of a healthy and happy career and gradually creep in to cause toxicity in your career. Here are two commonly found career nasties.
Growing unemployment fuelled by economic uncertainty and global factors such as: – service outsourcing; – technology making roles redundant; and – a trend towards greater casual positions mean job security is becoming a rarer beast than in days gone by. Many industries are going through a major shake-up. The IT sector is a case in point. In the last 20 years the IT industry expanded at a phenomenal rate and promised solid career progression and opportunities. Now, technology outsourcing is a major part of running an efficient and profitable business. The latest annual study by benchmarking and sourcing consultants ITNewcom interviewed 60 executives at top IT spenders in Australia about their outsourcing intentions. It found 75 per cent of organisations already outsource some of their applications, while 85 per cent outsource some of their infrastructure. That’s a good number of local jobs that will no longer exist. Similarly, the legal industry in Australia is experiencing radical changes due to outsourcing and rationalisation as more global firms join forces with Australian firms. It is more important than ever now that you remain ahead of the curve in your personal and professional development, and your career planning and decision-making. Just like you have to train and look after your body, you also have to be pro-active in looking after the health of your current and future career.
If the career uncertainty doesn’t get you, being in a job that doesn’t engage you, just might. The 2012 State of The American Workplace poll by Gallup found that: – Around 70% of employees surveyed are not engaged in what they do on a daily basis; – Around 20% are actively dis-engaged; – which means 50% just couldn’t really care one way or the other. Australia’s numbers would not be too dis-similar. Being engaged in what you do on a daily basis has been linked to higher rates of overall life satisfaction, and better mental and physical health. Simply speaking, it’s better for you, and better for everyone, if you are actively engaged in your work on a daily basis. Engagement is about more than being “satisfied” at work. It’s linked to a sense of emotional and intellectual commitment in a role, which results in a higher level of ownership and involvement. This leads to greater enthusiasm and you wanting to do whatever you can to better the organisation and ensure its customers and clients also benefit. You might think creating strong employee engagement is an organisational responsibility. I believe it’s also our individual responsibility to seek and create our own engagement. I point out some ways you van do that below.
The irony in all of this is that we also have many more choices than we ever had, as professional women in previous generations. Want to travel overseas? Join a major global company. Want ultimate flexibility in where and when you work? Join the growing number of work-from-anywhere aka “suitcase” entrepreneurs. Want to go back to University and change your career direction? Join the ranks of mature age career changers who refuse to settle for their current career choices. Relentless hours. Lack of job security. Dis-engagement. The pressure of choices. It all combines to create a potentially toxic environment in which your career must commence, continue and thrive.
I work with professional women every day who tell me they want relatively simple things from their career.
- Control over their own career destiny
- To feel energized, stimulated and to enjoy, most days, what they do
- To feel as though they are making some difference in the world, in our own way
While we can’t control all the potentially toxic ingredients that get mixed in with our career, we can help reverse the effects of them. Here are 3 ways you can detox your career and be the natural you, in your career.
1. Understand Yourself
Create a greater sense of engagement and wellbeing using the tips below.
Know what you love
Work out what makes you feel full of joy when you do it. This allows you to choose roles, projects, and opportunities from a place of knowing rather than hoping that it is something you will enjoy.
Know what motivates you
Understand what makes you tick and how you tend to behave at work and in life. This allows you to make better decisions – both on a day to day basis and in the longer term. It also provides a lens through which you can view your behaviour objectively and modify it to improve relationships and performance.
Know what your strengths are
There are few things more fulfilling in your career than knowing you are doing something brilliantly well. The correlation between loving what we do and using our strengths every day is massive. The Gallup poll I mentioned above found that employees who have the opportunity to use their strengths every day are more engaged than those who do not. Work out what your natural talents are and use them.
2. Build Your Influence
Job security will be less of a concern when you follow the tips below.
Market Your Own Brand
What do you want to be known best for in your market? What makes you unique and stand out from the crowd? What do people think when they meet you or hear your name mentioned? Creating and marketing your personal brand is essential for building the level of credibility and professional respect that makes you a sought after commodity in your field. For tips on how to do that read my earlier article.
Build and Nurture Your Network
Studies estimate that between 60-70% of roles are never advertised. That means they are filled internally or through employee referral networks. The face of recruitment and job search has changed. Your network is more important now than it has ever been. There are groups that cater for every style – intimate and personal to large and loud. And then there is the massive online professional network, Linkedin. With over 200 million users and it’s an incredible way to build your influence as well as build your networks.
Get In The Conversation
You will hear this time and time again as a professional woman – you MUST speak up. Investing in your communication skills is something you cannot afford to neglect. I tell my clients the story of a very successful partner of a professional services firm. After being “passed over” for partnership 3 years in a row, she went into her supervising partner’s office, ready to resign. When she had finished telling him how frustrated she was at continually missing out of promotion, he looked at her, in a rather confused way and said “You mean you are telling me you want to be a partner? We didn’t know that.” Focus on what you want to say, and how you want to say it. And get in the conversation.
3. Know Your Direction
Become your own career futurist and take control of your own destiny.
Plan – look backwards then forwards
Every successful business owner will tell you that planning is key to ongoing success. Take a leaf out of the business owners’ book and do the following: -Understand your position in the market. -Do a SWOT analysis – make sure you know where the opportunities AND the threats lie in relation to your career. – Test and measure – look to the past to see what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Be objective in your assessment and change your approach where necessary.
Fast-forward your career success by not being afraid to ask for help when you need it. Developing strong relationships with colleagues and others in your industry will be invaluable when you need extra guidance.
We all need a dream. Take time to get off the hamster wheel and assess your career in the context of your life. Are you living the life you really dream of? If not, why not? Find people who have followed their dreams and glean inspiration from them. Without dreams, our life becomes stagnant, and our career suffers. Know what you want out of life and go for it.
Recipe for Good Career Health
Like a healthy body, creating a healthy career is a matter of persistence, consistency and understanding what ingredients make up a great career for you. Take action today to work out where the toxic danger lies in your own career, and create a plan to eliminate it. Leave a comment on what action you’re going to take, and if you need a little more inspiration join me for my upcoming FREE online workshop. You can register by clicking here.