Too Narrow-visioned

Writing

For some of us, life revolves around a career, for others it’s family. But should life really have a sole focus? Is it wrong to lead an existence where we strive for one thing and neglect another? Benefit in one area of our life  to the detriment of another?

Need we only look at the rich lonely business with money to burn on himself but no partner or child to share it with. Or the family with 5 mouths to feed who are living off of rations. A dichotomous pair, with polarizing values. Are they both wrong? Should life be less about a ‘single’ goal and more about having a ‘range’of goals? Should life even be about having goals at all?

Personally, I’m annoyed at myself for having the blinkers on, and neglecting  certain areas of my life, life shouldn’t really be about one thing or the other. Truly, I believe it should be about balance.

And it has only  been through experiencing mistake after mistake via bad life decisions for me to realise this unfortunately. One example for me is infact career. I don’t know exactly where my obsession with gaining certain career goals originated, whether it was from the mouths of pale and stale teachers at school or from the rosy-pink lips of the celebs interviewed on TV. But either way, my obsessive drive to become ‘X’ as a career completely overruled any other aspect of my life as far back as my early teens.

At school I remember threats were frequent – ‘if you don’t do well at this subject then you won’t be employable. If you’re not employable then you won’t get a job, so you won’t earn money. SO you’ll die!’ This general spiel was a common go to for my college careers teacher. A spiel which struck me to my very core, instilling me with a fear and a drive to seek employment, to seek approval from others.

The beginning of a bad end was soon to commence in terms of ‘dream jobs’ for me. At this stage I think it’s best to announce my age, from the number of jobs I’ve had you’d think I was immortal but infact at 25 years old immortality is exchanged for a quarter-life crisis instead. What a trade-off!

Ofcourse I can’t just blame my teacher’s threats on being the reason I’ve experienced so many mishaps on the careers ladder, but it helps so I’ll just go with it (hehe).

Although I’m 25 years of age, I’ve had 8 jobs in 4 years (this should be a pub quiz question). No, each one didn’t last 6 months and yes, there were gaps of unemployment where I found myself crying in the corner of my room, the room I was soon to be kicked out of had I not have found a job to pay my rent. At one stage I kid you not I was down to my last £30 in my account.

But I guess the question isn’t – ‘how may jobs have I had’ but instead, ‘why have I had so many’? A question I do ponder over deeply at times. A short answer of which would be to simply say that I found each one of them boring. But the truth runs much deeper than this. Really, I think the tip of the iceberg is hinted at by a statement I mentioned earlier – ‘to seek the approval of others’. In my little brain I think at some moment in my life I had a eureka moment and I found contentment in knowing that if I obtained a ‘successful’ enough career in everybody else’s eyes then I myself would be happy. And with this mantra moulded into the neurons of my mind I set foot on getting a job in the music industry. Notorious for it’s glitz and glamour or so I thought. But shock horror hit when I actually found myself number-punching into Excel spreadsheets in an office where the perk of the day was getting a free biscuit with my luke-warm cup of tea. The moral of the story was the music industry I experienced wasn’t the music industry I had envisaged myself experiencing. And from this a trend of falling in and out of a jobs list as long as your arm commenced. At one stage I thought I’ll take any job just to pay my extortionate rent as I figure out what way I want to maneuver myself within the music industry. Which sounds good on paper but when you have a 12 hour shift as a host in a restaurant where you can’t sit down and get groped every 5 minutes by one of the bussboys then you suddenly start thinking that the luke-warm tea back at the office didn’t actually taste that bad afterall. Over the last 4 years that I’ve been in London, my job titles have changed, my salary has changed, my career goals may have even changed but one thing which has not changed is my exasperating attempts to achieve some sort of career pinnacle. Some role which will make my parents proud of me, make me enough money that I won’t have to continuously set things back at the checkout, a role which will make my friends say wow, and make me feel genuinely happy. But here comes the irony. That doesn’t exist. And why not?

Because there’s an imbalance, just as I’ve been stressing over obtaining a career everyone can give a thumbs up too, other areas of my life have been neglected. It’s all well and good landing work experience with a big-name company, but as you’re stapling their meeting packs together the thought of ‘I haven’t seen my friends in a while’ might just start to sink in. Or ‘when’s the last time I’ve been to the gym, or ate correctly, or been on a trip?’.

For me a big thing is being too hard on myself, like, I would never reward myself for any wins be them large of small. It was always on to the next goal without hesitance. Whereas if I made a mistake along the way to achieving a goal it would be in the back of my head for weeks at a time. This stick over carrot mentality coupled with my blinkered attitude towards career alone meant that my dearest relationships became frayed. On ths desperate hunt for career success I no longer saw my friends, I wasn’t interested in romantic relationships, all because I had this hardcore belief that I had no time for ‘distractions’, that I needed to focus on achieving my career ambitions. Meanwhile, had I stopped for a second and realised that the areas of life such as relationships, self-love and health hold equal importance to a career if not more. I was blind-sighted by my own obsession to seek the approval of everyone else around me all while I was slowly losing any care I had for myself.  

If you don’t take care of yourself this can manifest into snapping at those who you do care about the most – your family and close friends. For a while I felt so pressured to become something so specific, I put deadlines on every objective I had, most of the time unrealistic ones which meant I was always in a stressed-out mood. Consequently relationships with certain family members became strained. And this was the wake up call I needed to realise that I had gotten myself into a  heightened-state of disillusionment and pressure. If trying to get a high-flying career comes with the cost of losing touch with my family then I don’t want the career. Better yet, what I’ve came to realise is that having a good career in itself isn’t the key to happiness nor is it the key to sadness, the true takeaway point is having a good balance between numerous elements in life: social life, looking after your health, hobbies and job.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim to become ‘X’ but what I will stress is don’t become ‘X’ at the cost of everything else in your life! Trust me, balance is more important that you may think. x

Career change - best books to read 2018 wordpress blog

Career Change?: 7 Books You Need To Read

Writing

The 7 best books to inspire and guide you through career change

Making the decision to change career paths is no walk in the park. I myself have found structure and strategy  in making career decisions through a range of literary sources. Below are 7 books I would best recommend to anyone who, like myself at a stage, may be confused, cautious or just curious the bringing the steps to a career change  into fruition.

  1. How To Find The Work You Love – Laurence G. Boldt

It is estimated that the average person will rack up 90,000 hours  of their life in a job so is it really that wrong to like what you do? No. Infact, I believe you should love what you do. Boldt addresses the need for courage to start the search for a new career, and offers strategic advice on how to tap into our own resources to figure out what we are good at and what we would really like to do. This is an incredibly important point as I feel so many of us just rush life and get lost in the hustle of the day, the demands of the world around us and don’t really take the time that’s necessary to think of what’s best for us as individuals. Surely we owe it to ourselves to put research into something which takes up approx. 1/3 of our lives?

  1. Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers

Perhaps you  already know what career you would like to pursue, step 1 in the list is ticked off, but even with a passion for a role you may be still tentative to make the change. Will you enjoy the new role? Will your friends and family approve? What if the new role isn’t actually right for you, will you be trapped? Susan Jeffers perfectly uncovers the inner workings of our minds and why making decisions especially life changing ones such as a change in career can prove so challenging. She then flips this mindset on its head by offering  a ‘no-lose’ model to make the process of decision making a win-win regardless of whichever choice you make. Sounds too good to be true? Give it a read.  Jeffers shares additional food for thought on fear across a range of areas in our lives.  She touches on the destigmatization of positive thinking, how it isn’t as unrealistic as society would have us belief. How simply changing a few words in your self-talk can transform you from victim to a place of power. And so it can be agreed that this  book is not only relevant to our working life but every aspect of life which requires us to face fear.

  1. Black Box Thinking: The surprising Truth About Success – Matthew Syed

Although this book is not career based at its core, the extremely effective method of intertwining real life examples of when humans have screwed up  with core principles of psychology make for a book I just couldn’t put down. So how does failure link to a career change? It’s exactly that, will I fail at even finding a job, will I fail at the job itself? These questions are daunting and Syed couldn’t explain any better in his book on why failure is essential in life. Even if it means you get fired, this is still a poignant moment for you to learn and persevere.  His go to reference throughout the book is the  comparison between the attitude of the aviation industry vs that of the health care industry in facing failure. With the former facing it head on and with honesty resulting in one of the lowest mortality rates of any industry, the latter in contrast, focuses on hierarchy – a surgeon’s pride compromising honesty when operations go wrong, nurses feeling inadequate to speak  up against doctors. Syed’s core take home message is that in order to learn and grow we must fail. And that by trying to avoid failure you are infact worse off than if failing in the first place. This book can be applied to how you may feel when facing rejection letters, fear of interviews and fear of disappointing those around you. It definitely changed my attitude towards failure. Infact I look forward to failing (ok maybe I’m a bit carried away).

  1. Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance

A man of the moment, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk knows a thing or two about changing career paths. A ‘.com’ businessman during his entrepreneurial infancy, which in the tech company’s  selling could’ve left Musk with a fat cheque and enough snorkelling holidays to leave him permanently pruned.  But oh no, for he’s the ultimate risk taker. Investing millions and pushing it into fields he wasn’t initially experienced in – aerospace, renewable energy and car industries. Through Vance’s eyes, Musk’s ballsy go hard or go home approach in pursuing passions and making change on scales much bigger than himself makes for an interesting read to say the least. Surely sending off your application on Indeed.com takes a little less effort then trying to get humankind colonizing the red planet, no?

  1. Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl

Everything can be taken away from us except the ability to choose our attitude in any given circumstance. This is the core message Frankl emphasizes in this truly thought-provoking read – a Viennese psychiatrist who was held captive in both Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps. The relation I make between his book and in changing a career is that so many times we base decisions off of the opinions of others or rely too heavily on external situations. Will my family approve, will they fire me? If your family don’t approve but from your perspective you love the job then that should just be accepted. If you get fired from the job you will learn skills on how to find another route into the career of your choosing. One’s own perspective on a situation can leave them feeling the victim or the power holder. And in no truer a situation than in the one of pursuing your career can this mindset be incorporated to bring the outcome of most optimal success.

  1. Get a Life, Not a Job: Do What You Love and Let Your Talents Work For You – Paula Caligiuri

With the message that ‘ employers no longer show any loyalty to their employees, it’s up to you to take control of your own destiny’, Caligiuri provides a very hands on and intensive approach to gaining the career of your desires. Practical steps including exercises and questionnaires in the book help dismantle the stigmatized airy fairy idea of ‘following your dreams’ and instead cements dream chasing as it as an achievable goal so long as effort is put in. For anyone who doesn’t want to be just a passive listener, this book should kick start you into action.

  1. Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type – Paul D Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger

Built around the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (MBPI), this book plays matchmaker between personality type and job fit. So chances are if you’re of a nervous disposition then maybe bounty hunting isn’t for you, in contrast if you like using tax payers money to buy new sinks plugs and paperweights at the cost of a small family car  then perhaps take up politics. Either way the authors aim to take it to a personal level so you can show the world your true talents in your ideal role.

 

So there you have it, 7 and not 8 books which will get you in that dream job by Christmas (potentially). As you’ve came to the end of the article you may be thinking that several of the books chosen here aren’t strictly career focussed and that I’m taking you on some monk-like journey of self-discovery. To me, I see a career  as such a big part of my life that the intertwinement of self-discovery and career cannot be divided. So if you don’t like my cushy self-help books then stay in your miserable job!!!!! (joke(not)). In all seriousness, I know job-hunting isn’t easy, I got fired from my very first job at 21, so I can empathize. So I wish you all the best in your career endeavours, you can do it.

Insecure

Writing

Insecure

I get insecure. Sometimes.

I don’t know how to look you in the eye.

Days go by where I just want to lie in my bed and hide.

Tell me,

Are we all just suffering inside?

 

Please let me know I’m not alone in my struggles.

I get nervous, I get anxious.

But around me, everyone else seems so normal.

 

I get frustrated with myself,

That I don’t know how to relax.

I feel constantly on edge, as if someone’s ready to attack.

When really the only attacker is me.

 

My guard is up way too much, my arsenal is at the ready.

Say the wrong words to me and it’s venom spitted at you strong and heavy.

I’m not proud.

I wish I wasn’t so defensive.

I wish I wasn’t so offensive.

I wish insecurities where just a thing of the imagination.

Maybe the line above is our biggest lesson.