4 PRINCIPLES FOR YOUR CAREER JOURNEY
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs
Choosing a career is an important decision – work will fill up 90 000 hours of your lifetime. The decision of choosing your career is one we all have to make. I love this quote by Steve Jobs about finding your career as it emphasises the importance of career satisfaction and fulfilment. This quote also reinforces that it is not always easy to find, but finding a satisfying career is worth pursuing.
I have had the pleasure of working with adolescents who are planning their careers, university students who are expanding their knowledge and skills to prepare for careers, young adults who are building their careers, established adults who want to change their careers, and retired professionals bidding farewell to careers and finding something new to pursue. Here are my 4 principles for career development, no matter where you are on your career journey.
1. Choosing your career is not a once-off decision
We need to stop thinking about our career decision-making as a singular process. Your career path needs to allow opportunities for growth and flexibility. I think it is unwise to think about choosing a career as a decision we make once in our lives. I also think it is unhelpful to assume that what you love to do will always stay the same. It’s ok not to know what you want to do, it’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to change your mind.
2. The world is always changing
Just as we can change, so does our world. The interaction of psychological, economic and socio-political variables in our world can either perpetuate or challenge the status quo. We need to prepare for the reality of a rapidly changing social world and work contexts. Furthermore, the structure of our circumstances, as well as our responsibilities to significant others, also changes. These external factors mean we are not free to make any career decision at any time. The decisions we make are mutually influenced by our sense of self and our circumstances.
3. Your career is personal
While contextual factors can open up or limit certain career decisions, you are your own person. You are the expert of your own life and you have the the skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments, and abilities to find a satisfying career. Your career can be more than your job, work or occupation. Your career can be the space where you continually learn, where you transform learning into knowledge, and where you add value to the world.
4. Embrace chance encounters and opportunities
Your career is a pattern of influences that co-exist in your life over time and some of those influences are seemingly random. Life is not always planned, predictable or logical. Neither are our careers. Allow yourself to experience the encounters and opportunities that may be outside your ideas of what your career should be.