I love my work. Every moment of it. Really. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to do what I enjoy most and to juggle it successfully with the other facets of my life - kids, husband, household, family, friends, volunteer roles and wellbeing.
It has been a long road to get to this point and the road leads onwards - thankfully. Satisfying careers are a work in progress and from my experience there's a lot of adaptability required, particularly if you want to create a good mix of fulfilling career and happy family.
This is my story so far...
At 27 years old I was in a corporate management role. It was challenging but fun. I was learning a lot, making good friends in a new city, given plenty of responsibility, paid well and I had my own parking spot - a simple thrill when working in Sydney.
One day, apropos of nothing, I sat back, looked out of my office window and thought about the future. I tried to envision my life in five years' time. It was a fuzzy vision but one thing that I knew with complete clarity was that I wanted children. The next thought was, 'I don't want to be working in a corporate job and juggling that with kids.' I just knew that wasn't the right combination for me.
I decided that I had to forge a new path. I had to be proactive about my career and I had to shape it to accommodate my goals for the future. Shortly thereafter I enrolled in further study to get my full qualifications and registration as a psychologist. I didn't know what I was going to do as a psychologist. The traditional roles of counsellor and therapist didn't appeal at all, but I believed that I was heading down a path that would give me greater flexibility in the longer term.
Some time later, qualifications under my belt, I left corporate life to try my hand at a small consulting firm. I still wasn't sure where I was going, but I was prepared to try something new that I thought might give me the kind of experience and adaptability that I needed.
I kept my eyes and mind open, I researched the new and emerging fields in psychology. I sought out people doing work that I found interesting and invited them to coffee to pick their brain and I kept working hard, building my experience, networks and knowledge.
I was 29 when I ditched employment altogether and went out on my own. I still didn't know what I was doing. I really didn't know what I was doing, but I felt I'd learned enough about myself and my abilities and my strengths and my goals to give it a go - at least until I had to 'get a proper job.'
14 years later and I've successfully avoided that 'proper job.' I mostly work my own hours with people that I enjoy and I fit it in and around my kids and their needs. It's still a work in progress. My tasks, my goals, my clients, my projects and my finances shift and change with every day. I know that's not a scenario that suits everyone but it suits me.
Self awareness, regular reflection and envisioning my future has been integral to my journey. It has kept me on my path and reminded me that that path is mine alone.
If I was to sum up what I've learnt about shaping your career and loving what you do it's this:
- Imagine your future. Project yourself forward to five years' time. Imagine how you would like life to look. You might not see every detail - you probably won't - but you might see enough to make a difference to how you act today.
- Be prepared to change. Life shifts and moves. Circumstances and priorities change and opportunities arise, sometimes in unexpected places. Keep an open heart and mind. Be true to your bigger vision and adapt as you go along.
- Be brave. Someone asked me just this week what I would do differently if I was to do the last 14 years over again. There wouldn't be much I'd change but I would take more chances sooner. I've learnt that there's little to be lost by trying something new and often plenty to gain. Go on, do it!
- Know yourself. Reflect on what you're good at and what you most enjoy. Do more of what you're passionate about. Learn what brings you energy. Work according to your values and your strengths. Know who you are and believe in that. Create your path. Make it your journey.
If you're just starting your journey and you'd like to chat about it, let me know. I'd love to hear your story.
If you're still figuring out what's next for you you might like to join my mailing list for updates on the next release of Find Your Groove, and online course to help you, well, find your groove.