In our society, we see work as a significant part of our lives. What we do may not only define us, but it impacts our lives both financially and psychologically and in some instances, may impact others as well. For the majority of us, we initiate our career in a chosen field for a significant period of our lives. Depending on what stage of our career we find ourselves, we might be experiencing different levels of satisfaction and drive. That was the case for Laura.
Laura was a Project Manager in her late forties who had developed credibility in her field after successfully delivering two important projects for her firm. Despite her successes, she was somehow feeling disinterested and distracted. At first, she was disappointed to be feeling this way, but then realized she needed to do some thinking about her path and the course of her career.
As we are dynamic human beings facing many changes and transitions, managing your own career is an important step toward defining, reframing and adapting to life’s changes. This involves taking more ownership of our own careers, rather than believing it is our employer who will initiate any advancement or adaptation.
After a weekend outdoors, Laura had time to think about the areas of her job that she enjoyed the most and about what was missing. She discovered she had been feeling stuck and wanted to revamp her career. She scheduled a meeting with her manager and shared some ideas on how she could go about learning a new side of the business. Their meeting was very productive and ended with her manager offering the resources of an internal Career Coach to meet with Laura to identify career goals and a plan for the next 3 months.
The emotional commitments, the level of involvement and the role conflicts we experience in our work will vary according to our life stages. Much like managing your financial goals and retirement strategy, it is also important to reevaluate career goals from time to time, making sure we are on track and making adjustments when needed.
In the initial meeting with her Career Coach, Laura completed a self-assessment to identify her interests and motivations. They explored her values and need for contribution and drafted a development plan for the next stage in her career.
Toward mid-life, there is a tendency for individuals to feel inclined to develop more balance in their lives. There is a shift towards achieving more focus on values, contributions, integrity and wellbeing. When the current career is misaligned with these values and concepts, it may lead to reinventing oneself and exploring other interests.
Laura started taking action and joined a women’s network where she took on a leadership role to organize a fundraiser to help underserved children. She also applied to an internal job posting and was selected for a position as a Senior Project Manager in another division. She earned a certification in Change Management and became excited about familiarizing herself with another geographical region. Her first international trip was coming soon, and she was counting the days until she was able to meet her new staff.
Given that we spend most of our productive years working, continually managing your career is an important component for your ability to engage in work that is meaningful to you at every stage of your life. The key is being willing to manage your own career by taking a proactive approach, exploring your needs and implementing actions to keep it relevant.
Laura was able to turn her career challenges into opportunities for greater career and life satisfaction. When she identified her longings and discontents, she asked for help, developed an action plan and took bold actions to create more satisfaction in her life and career.
What challenges or dilemmas might you be facing in your career? Are you in need of retooling your skills, learning a new technology or changing your pace? What type of interests can enrich your life? Regardless of which career stage you might be, a qualified career coach is trained to assist you in identifying career challenges to transform them into opportunities for more a fulfilling career. What would you love?
Prepared by Mari J. Perez
Career Coach, Trainer and Speaker.