This week I had a stark reminder of just how short life is and the importance of making the most of life and doing work that you really enjoy when I got news that a former colleague of mine had passed away after being ill with cancer. We had both left employment at the same time in 2011 in order to pursue the things that we were really passionate about.
"The number of women that are doing unfulfilling jobs never ceases to amaze me"
The number of women that are doing unfulfilling jobs never ceases to amaze me. It is often when women get to their 40s and 50s and have spent years doing work that they are not happy with that they recognise the importance of doing work that is true to who they are and embark on a mid life career change.
Increasingly, I am also seeing women in their 30s that are getting tired of the rat race and are looking to do work that is fulfilling and allows them to be authentic.
In their research, as to why women choose to not aspire to the corporate executive suites, Lisa Maniero and Sherry Sullivan found that what women want from their career changes at different stages of their lives. In their early careers the prominent thing they seek is challenge, by mid career, balance takes predominance and by late career authenticity moves to the forefront.
"When considering a career move, one of the key factors to take into consideration is what is important for you.."
When considering a career move, one of the key factors to take into consideration is what is important for you at this stage in your life. What you wanted in your 20s is not necessarily what you want in your 30s, 40s, 50s or even 60s. But if you remain in the same line of work for a number of years you may find that what you do no longer serves what it is that you need.
If you are unsure about what it is that is most important to you, a good place to start is by looking at your values. You may find certain core values that remain with you throughout your life. I recently connected with an old school mate on Facebook who I have not seen for over 30 years. One of the things she said that she remembered about me was that I was always kind, caring and gentle to her.
This goes to the core of who I am and the work that I do now enables me to be this way. Many times over the years in my previous career, I tried to not fit this persona of who I am. Even at times trying to appear hard, cold and uncaring because I thought that was what was expected of me but deep down it was not me and it did not feel right.
"I began to recognise what was going on and that I was not being true to who I was."
Once I got to my early forties, I began to recognise what was going on and that I was not being true to who I was. That was probably the main factor when deciding that I was going to make a move from employment to self employment. As I entered my late career, I recognised that I wanted to be authentic and be true to who I am and work authentically too.
Part of my research on women going through mid life career change looked at women from the ages of 38-65 who were facing job loss and although these women were initially scared about the future, they realised that the work they had been doing or the organisation did not align with their values and who they were now. This enabled them to see that although there was uncertainty about the future, there was also hope. Hope that they could now do something that was true to who they were.
A client of mine who was unhappy at work, could not figure out why she was so unhappy. After examining her values she had a light bulb moment. Her values did not align with the organisation. With this realisation, she was then able to take the necessary steps and do something about it and pursue work that was more fulfilling.
"Does the work that you do align with your values?"
If you too feel unfulfilled, unhappy and no longer enjoy your work, stop and reflect. Does the work that you do align with your values? Do your values align with the organisation that you work with? Carrying out a values elicitation exercise will help you to find this out and will help you when thinking about what it is that you really want to do. If you are unsure how you can do this, you can download a values elicitation exercise at the end of the post here.
Once you have a clear idea about what your values are and what is important to you, you can then start to identify the kind of work that will enable you to do what really matters to you.
For some women who are unhappy at work, changing their jobs is not an option at the moment because of personal commitments. If this is you, you can find out how to love the job you are in here.
You can read further blog posts here