Which career? No idea! (revisited)
As I work towards the launch of my own business, I can see from the outside, how I might appear to be someone who is in control. Someone who has their sh*t together. I’m not, and today especially I believe there are very few people who could say that of themselves. It’s called being realistic. If there is one lesson that I’ve learnt in the last few months whilst I’ve seemingly been in hibernation it is this: There is no right choice - only good choosing. And let’s be honest, often the bad choices teach us something, provided that we learn from them. It’s this new found appreciation for my own choices that’s opened my eyes to the concept of design thinking, and its application to building the perfect career, step by step. Inspired by the New York Times #1 bestseller ‘Designing Your Life’ by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, I’ve refreshed an article I published on LinkedIn in 2014 to share some key insights into, and the development of my own story from ‘Which Career? No Idea’ to entrepreneur.
Step 1: Hatching a plan
The time I’ve spent over the summer resting, reflecting and eventually realising that a) I’m not wealthy enough to live without working, yet and b) I was getting bored and not having a project to focus on has helped me to reframe - to focus on working on the right problems and ultimately helped me to open up new solution spaces. Much of what I discovered about myself turned out to be a set of dysfunctional beliefs that until I found my most recent career at EY had been holding me back, and from becoming the best version of myself. I decided it was time to hatch a plan…
Step 2: Dropping a pin on the map
I’m not the most spontaneous of people. A creature of comfort at times. But I’m getting better at embracing ambiguity. For myself, and because honestly we all have to in the world in which we live which is becoming increasingly unpredictable. However, that doesn’t negate the need for a plan, something I’ve not really had for most of my adult life (perhaps I’m more spontaneous than I think…?) Until I stumbled upon my career at EY back in 2010, I was drifting, and happily doing so. But that had always been the case since I was 14 years old. I’d never been challenged on where I was going. A few opinions shared here and there, but nothing more. Despite this, I’ve somehow felt confident that in not always knowing where I’m going, that I’ve been going in the right direction. I’m not a terribly religious person but in this I do have faith. It’s what has driven me this far, and what has helped me to stop, take stock, celebrate and plan the rest of my journey.
Step 3: Finding my way
It’s often said that you’ll know when you’ve found your calling as work will no longer feel like work. I’d beg to differ. It’s also been important to me that work feels like work. Good work. Work that provides positive stretch, offers opportunities to learn and develop, and from which you are able to switch off from to enable you to focus on pursuing those interests you are not paid for (which are equally as important). I’ve always enjoyed the work that I’ve done and this has proven to be a helpful guide to finding the right work for me. However, there have been more times than I’d like to admit where it has solely steered the direction in which I’ve travelled. It was how I selected all of my GCSE subjects, A-Levels, my university degree and ultimately led to my first career teaching Geography on the Teach First programme. It was the easiest way for me to navigate the world, without much effort. But as with most things, its the effort, the extra mile where the best things usually happen, so I’ve spent time listing. Going crazy with Post-It notes. Journalling to re-connect with what else I enjoy both professionally and personally.
Step 4: Creating a life by design
Whilst I realise that the steps I’ve taken this year have been afforded by the luxury of time, they have been an investment I would recommend to anyone. Choosing to designing a life that works for me hasn’t been an easy task. It’s involved taking risks. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. But it’s given me the additional bandwidth I’ve needed for a long time.
Remember, it’s never too late to design a life you love either.
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