5 fundamentals to choosing a sensational career you love

I love my career...

February. Officially the most depressing month of the year.

The New Year’s Resolutions are out of the window, the credit card is still bloated, and the cold, grey winter is stretching ahead…

This is a common time to think of CHANGE: what change can you achieve to make things better?

What about in your career? We spend most of our lives at work - if those hours are miserable, our life is miserable.

But what change should it be?

I made a massive career change a few years ago: from a Central Government Civil Servant to being an executive coach.

I started my training when my daughter started school.

And I spent about a year thinking about what I wanted my new career to be.

So what should you be thinking about when re-defining your career goals?

Here are five fundamentals you need to consider.

1. What do you want from life?

Starting with the big one…

Your career is just a sub-set (albeit an important one) of your whole life.

Ideally, it should fit into your wider goals, not the other way around.

So before considering what career change to make, you need to work out your personal non-negotiables: the values that drive you.

This is a huge area, worthy of a blog post in itself (to come) - but for now, start with the following questions:

  • What are the most important things in my life? (Love, family, money, security, success...)

  • On my death-bed, what will I consider a “life well-lived”?

These are questions you could ponder for hours, days, months, years - and the answers will change during the course of your life.

But if you want to make change in your life, you have to pin yourself down: answer the questions the best you can, NOW.

I decided that being there for my family was my priority.

I’d had ten good years of being career-driven at the cost of my social and emotional life (nearly getting burnt out in the process). I was lucky to be married to a wonderful man with a fantastic young daughter, and a lovely extended family locally - I wanted that to be at the centre of my life, not my career.

All decisions had to be made around how they impacted on that value.

2. What are your financial goals?

Yes, work can a source of deep emotional and psychological satisfaction - but for most of us, it is crucial to pay the bills.

According to Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs, the fundamental need for us all is food, water, and shelter - for which we need money.

But “food and water” can range from shopping in Aldi to eating in 3 star Michelin restaurants. (I do both.)

So where do you fit on this scale?

You have to tailor your ambition to your financial goals. There is no point becoming a yoga teacher if you want to holiday in 5 star hotels - the one is unlikely to lead to the other.

Think realistically about what a good standard of living means to you.

I am very lucky in that my husband can support me - this allowed me to stay at home, not working, while my daughter was small.

But when she started school, and didn't need me so much, I wanted to work again: I spent my adult life financially independent, and it is important to me to make a financial contribution to my family.

And I think it’s important to set a good example to my daughter. (“We can do it!” as Rosie the Riveter said.)

3. What daily routine do you want?

Fundamentally, life is made up of the small stuff, repeated:

  • waking up in the morning

  • getting to work

  • getting home again

  • eating

  • bed.

This is what can either grind us down (a two-hourly commute each way); or lift us up (being there to collect the kids from school).