07 January 2021 at 15:22
New Year New Career
If 2020 has left your career feeling a bit flat, you’re not alone! Maybe your job disappeared, maybe you were stuck at home on furlough while the days passed you by with little direction, or maybe you were thrown into a whirlwind of activity and new procedures which was hard to keep up with.
A good job isn’t just about salary – a happy and fulfilling working life has huge implications for mental and physical health. Research has shown that happiness can reduce stress, balance hormones, lower blood pressure and boost the immune system. A negative work environment also plays havoc with your sleep and feelings of self-worth, and can lead to comfort eating or over-reliance on unhealthy convenience foods. Weight gain, skin problems and depression may follow.
Many of us start employment out of a necessity to work - but even if you rate your job as 'fine' – just think of the impact on your wellbeing if you could find something you are truly thrilled to be paid for. It might already be the case for a lucky few – but for others this might mean re-training or working for yourself.
Make 2021 the year for a fresh start!
The health benefits
Feeling stuck in a rut, under-appreciated, or pressured at work has mental and physical consequences. Not being busy can be just as difficult mentally as having too much to do, and can lead to apathy and lack of motivation. There is great satisfaction to be had from challenging the brain, gently stretching into new and undiscovered areas can blow away the cobwebs from a familiar and predictable daily routine. Doing a job you love gives purpose and satisfaction to life – it lifts the spirits and motivates you. It keeps you healthful and boosts wellbeing. The time to start is now.
It’s never too late!
No matter where you are in your career, it’s never too late to re-train, upskill or take a different direction. Now more than ever we have access to a wealth of interesting courses and training programmes online; anything from healing therapies to life coaching, counselling, sound engineering, computer programming, animal welfare... If these sound like drastic changes from your current 9 to 5, you might be surprised at how many transferable skills you already have. Check out adult education programmes and vocational courses at your local college as well as courses on offer from independent online colleges. Study is often available on a flexible and part time basis, and you could be less than a year away from a whole new life.
So how do we get there? Follow the 4 step plan to finding a new direction:
- First you need to work out what you enjoy. What you REALLY enjoy. Something you love so much you would happily do it in your leisure time. Maybe it’s singing, dancing, giving advice, writing, helping others, creating artwork, talking on the phone, DIY, having a good listening ear, or even cleaning! However insignificant or unlikely it seems as a career – make a list of at least 10 to 20 things you love to do or would like to do more of.
- Now think about all the skills you have. If you find this step hard think about how friends and family members would describe you. What would they say are your qualities? Include things like listening, giving advice, being calm and patient, being the life and soul of the party, attention to detail, solving problems, taking risks..
- Now list all the things you have ever been asked to do, by others. Some might be work related such as designing a flyer for an event, or adding text to a company website. Others might be favours from friends and family - Can you check the spelling in my homework? Can you have a look over my tax form? Can you help me format this document for print? Can you help give me advice with my relationship? Can you show me how to bake that recipe? Can you help me choose a new colour paint for the lounge? Think about those occasions – where did you enjoy giving your help?
- Finally, it’s time to engage your creative mind, as somewhere in those three lists there will emerge an idea for your new direction. Look at the lists, read them out loud, reorder them or highlight favourites in different colours. Do any themes appear? Perhaps you seem to prefer being outdoors; perhaps you prefer talking to writing; perhaps you prefer working in a team or are happier working under your own initiative at home? If nothing comes to you put it aside and have another look later.
Think with your heart not with your head and eventually the ideas will come to you.
Can I make money from it?
One thing that 2020 has taught us is that life is unpredictable, so there’s nothing better than having something you love to fall back on financially. Everyone has something to offer, and people pay others for things they either can’t or don’t have time to do themselves. Whether you have an idea for something you can sell online on sites like eBay or Etsy, or are able to offer a service on freelance sites like People Per Hour and Fiverr – with a little thought and effort it’s very possible to get a few pounds rolling in.
If your dream is not something that’s easy to come by, you may need to retrain and consider working for yourself – if this is the case then don’t underestimate the value of a business and marketing course in order to find and keep customers, and maximise your success. Alternatively you may have come up with a something you can be employed for by a larger company, in which case start researching and make a list of companies who might have the kind of job that you will love. With the new normal looking set to be flexible working from home, companies that previously might have been out of bounds due to geography may now be within your reach!
For most of us being ‘successful’ does not mean money comes first. Being respected, helping others, maintaining our wellbeing, making time for family and friends, enjoying what you do and feeling valued are some of the things people choose above money. It’s all about finding a good work-life balance and having the confidence to follow your dreams.
Maybe you love your existing job but find it takes over your life and you have little time left for other pursuits. You might be able to tweak this by looking at aspects of your job you enjoy most, to see if there are any opportunities to do more of them. If you are working long hours it might be a good time to go over your finances and work out if you can afford to reduce your hours, or look for potential new working patterns – perhaps more flexible hours or tasks that can be done from home which would allow you to spend more time each day in natural daylight and fresh air.
Whether or not you have landed your dream job, remember to schedule time each week to spend time with people who make you feel good and to pursue the things that you love. Even if you work a set office job from 9 to 5 there might be opportunities to freshen things up by making new connections, volunteering for different projects, organising team social events or job-swapping/shadowing people from other teams and departments.
Feeling satisfaction in your work is a major factor in enjoying life, and even if you are not brave enough to make radical changes - even small improvements can give a much needed boost to your health and happiness.