To choose a career, you first need to answer the question 'What would I really like to do? Here's a conversation that I had recently which illustrates this ....
“I’ve just had the worst day of my life,' was the answer I got when I asked the upset young woman sitting across the aisle if she was okay. It was the last train from Belfast to Dublin and Mary was on her way to a job interview the next day. “I’ve just failed my driving test and got yet another no to a job application. Who waits until they’re 24 to take their driving test? 'she said, chastising herself. “I’m probably wasting my time going to Dublin for this interview.'
Mary is a Marketing Graduate who should know all about promoting herself in an increasingly competitive job market. This was more than ‘a bad day’. She was weary from all the rejections and disappointments and clearly in no frame of mind to impress an employer at an interview.
For Mary this was not an opportunity to display her talents, but rather another painful step in the process of trying to find a job. Financial pressures had forced her back home to live with her parents in Belfast, and Mary was desperate to get work.
It was when I asked her, “What would you really like to do?" that Mary looked up and her eyes engaged me properly for the first time. With a nervous half-smile, she told me that her ambition was to open a clothes shop for older women. Mary knew exactly what the shop would sell and where it would be located. We chatted about how she could do something now to start to make this a reality - find out what older women in that area really want, identify gaps in the market, assess the competition, identify potential designers and suppliers, and so on. Basic research and creating links were two priorities if Mary was ever going to make her dream a reality. Her marketing brain started to kick-in and she was buzzing.
It seems to me, there is little point in dreams and ambition if we never do anything to make them happen. What was she waiting for? Mary could continue to apply for jobs and re-sit her driving test- but now she had a project that needed some proper attention. Within a few minutes her whole attitude changed. She saw she could take control of her own situation. Rather than being a passive cog waiting for things to happen, Mary could see actions she could take to move her project forward.
The following morning I told this story to an enterprise specialist with responsibility for helping people to start their own business. When I mentioned how asking Mary, “What would you really like to do?" had provided such a spark, his expression changed. It was clear that no one had ever asked him the question either. His body language told me that whatever he wanted to do, it certainly wasn’t a government role, trying to encourage people into self employment. And he told me that like Mary, many of his clients felt forced into going it alone because the job market had dried up.‘Reluctant entrepreneurs’ is what he called them.
Our current world of work allows for only two options - sending out CVs in the hope of landing that illusive job, or starting your own business. Yes, there are courses to take and new qualifications to acquire, but that merely means being better qualified to compete in the same job market (and remember too, it is possible to be overqualified).
Now a third route is emerging that charts a different path. It’s called ‘Work it Out!’ and it involves developing different, discrete pieces of work and linking these together.
Before embarking on this path it is important to be able the answer the question, ‘What would I really like to do? This provides the key to the direction you should take. So step back from your current role, or situation, for a couple of minutes and ask yourself:
What would I really like to do?
Thinking about what you want to do is the first step. Exactly how to go about achieving this, building income, developing a collection of workpieces and creating a sustainable career is what Work it Out! is all about.