Many people live their careers by accident, without a lot of strategy.

Remember back to the day when you were preparing to leave school, and the most common question you were asked was ‘what do you want to do’?

This question can bring with it anxiety for some people who actually have no idea.

I often reflect on this moment, and now with 20+ years of work under my belt, I write about the things that I wish I’d have known then.


You don’t have to pick one career that will last you a lifetime

Gone are the days when we studied once and then worked in that profession for 40 years. Did you know these days, it’s common to have on average 5-7 different career changes in your lifetime?

One of the best things about schooling is being able to try a variety of subjects and develop many different interests. For some people, their career path is clear and they specialize in one particular field. For others, they like a variety of subjects and have many options for pathways and careers, yet are often encouraged to narrow it down to one.

To remain competitive in the job market and to explore your range of interests, it is common for people to return to study at various times in their life. It is perfectly fine to commit to a life of learning and pursue a new career path many times throughout your life cycle if this is what will bring you satisfaction.


Work should complement your life – not be your life

There are times in your career when your work / life balance is out of whack and you feel that all you are doing is living through your work. This has become even harder to get the balance right in recent times when so many people have been working from home. Remember that it is important to find a balance between your work / life to support both your physical and mental health.

Work should not be your identity, your family, your entire life, your worth, your self-confidence or your happiness.

Remember, your work can change in the blink of an eye (hello COVID), so you don’t want to rely on your work for your happiness. Find a balance of things that you enjoy doing outside of work, so that your true worth does not rely solely on your occupation.


It’s not all about the $$$

To gain true satisfaction in a work role, some of the most important aspects are; if you have a value alignment and are a good culture fit for the organisation. It’s all very well that you may have work tasks that you enjoy doing and get paid well to do, but if you do not find a true alignment to the organisation, then the likelihood of you staying for a long period of time is unlikely.


Overworking and Burnout is not glamorous

Overworking is not something that you should aspire to. Working at a pace that is impossible to sustain is how to burnout before reaching your goal. We need to stop glamourising the grind and start glamourising 7 hours of sleep, having healthy relationships, working hard when you’re at work, setting boundaries and self-care.

No one is productive when they are burnt out. Set boundaries and take the rest you need. Find something outside of work that is challenging, engaging and really gets you going. Something that does not involve your career development. Dedicate a time each week that is purely for relaxing; unplug devices, go for a walk, read a book or sit in silence. Time just for you.


If you don’t enjoy your job, you have choices

I hear all too often people dreading Sunday afternoons, knowing that the work week is about to start and they are about to launch into unsatisfying work for another week.

We spend approx. 90,000 hours of our life at work and we only have one life to live. Why spend that much of your life doing something you don’t enjoy?

If you don’t enjoy your work, assess your interests and skills, consider a new job in the same industry, upgrade your skills or retrain in a new industry to find a career you enjoy.


You don’t have to follow in others’ footsteps

Create your own story. Just because your parents or friends have selected a particular occupation does not mean you have to follow that; you are running your own race and can make choices that are most suited to you.

‘Life itself isn’t a race. It can’t be, because with a race everyone runs the same course. You’re on your own path. Your path is unique to you. No one is winning. No one is ahead. Being behind doesn’t exist because no one is going in the same direction you’re going in.’

Find a job that truly gives you satisfaction and happiness, and don’t get distracted by what others are doing.



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

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