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Starting / Choosing a career

Do you want a job or a career

Far too often we get a case of envies when we look at the careers of others. More often than not we do this without actually asking ourselves if they are really the lives that we actually want and whether we are prepared to put in the work (and inevitable sacrifices) to get there.

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So, what sort of career DO you want?  And what are you prepared to give to achieve it?

A career that you want and are truly proud of might take some time to create. And it might take some planning for.  Whilst for some a career appears a truly magical thing that “just happens”, for most of us, it needs a bit more thought and planning (and yes, work).

There is a lot of doom and gloom around work these days, as the impact of the economic downturn makes it itself known and jobs seemingly become more precious.  It can be a time of anxiety or even stress for some, either that they are worrying that they might lose their job or that they have to stay in a job that they hate for fear of not being able to find another.

But to my mind, this is a time of great opportunity. It is a time to reflect on the career you have versus the career you want.  Times of stress and change can create amazing lenses through which to see new opportunities.  And the amazing thing about the world that we live in is that we have the power to create what we want (with some hard work and the occasional bit of good luck along the way).

So assuming that circumstances dictate that you have a choice, do you want a job or a career?

What’s the difference? Usually, a “job” is somewhat transactional. You trade your time for money so that you can enable other aspects of your life.  A career is more holistic, more than the sum of a singular job, and more a tale of a series of jobs that looked at in the whole tell a story of your path to somewhere.

Do you want a job? Do you want money so that you can use it to enable other aspects of your life? Do you mind (within reason) what this job is, so long as it fulfils whatever criteria you put on it (ie – location, hours etc.)?  This is a relatively simple equation to find out what means the most to you.

Or do you want a career? And is it one that you are currently in or is it something completely different?

If you want a career, firstly take a moment to find your “why”. Why is this career important to you? What does it give you? What does it fulfil in you? This is important, because often by looking at the why, we can see that there are lots of other paths to fulfil the same end goal. If we start with “what” we self limit the path we are on.

Once you know your why – you can set about taking a good look at how you can create a path to get what you want.  It is also important because it can help you see how a career is only one part of your life and having a career and life to be proud of is about knowing how much of your life you want your career to be about.  It also means you can be flexible and pivot when opportunities present.

Life is rarely completely linear – there are steps sideways (and backwards) along the way.  It is all about finding what suits you.

This article first appeared in workher

Tammy Tansley

is the Principal of Tammy Tansley Consulting and the author of Do What You Say You'll Do, a book for new leaders and those reinventing their leadership style. She is co owner of Help Me HR.

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