I spend a lot of time talking to people about their careers. How did they get into what they do? What do they want to do next? What makes them excited and gets them up in the morning?
I often hear people say they ‘fell into their careers’ and I wonder to what extent that creates a sense of professional dissatisfaction – asking yourself “am I on the most interesting, relevant path for me?”.
These are good questions to ask yourself and the answer can have multiple implications for both your professional and personal life. I recently turned these questions on myself and this is what I’m learning.
From the frying pan to the fire
My partner is a restaurant owner. He left a stable, well-paid Executive Chef job three years ago to pursue his dream of owning his own restaurant. Along with his business partner, he poured significant amounts of time, money, and energy into creating a successful restaurant in an incredibly competitive market.
Witnessing this made me turn those questions I mentioned onto myself. Why do I do what I do? What’s my dream? What’s my why?
I realised that professional success and ongoing development is my key driver – it’s important that the work I do challenges me and offers variety. More specifically, I wanted to work in a role that would help to support my long-term career goal of becoming an Organisational Psychologist.
Gamble or measured risk?
When I told friends and colleagues I was going to join Sprout I got a lot of questions – what does Sprout do? Is this the right move? Have I thought about the risks involved in joining a start-up at such an early stage?
My answer was a confident “yes” and once I explained Sprout’s consultancy model combining HR, business management and recruitment, this felt like more of a measured risk than a gamble.
To a certain extent, there is risk, but I’ve proactively looked for this to challenge myself and work towards my goal. It’s also about taking the destiny of your career back into your own hands, and frankly, I believe in what Sprout is delivering as a business.
Joining Sprout was a risk - we’re a start-up, just over 12 months in, but I weighed up the pros and cons and I’m confident I’ve made the right call. Of course, my decision wasn’t easy, but I had a couple of pretty big influencing factors.
Now in my early 30s and with a certain degree of financial stability, I felt it was time to make career decisions that put me out of my comfort zone. Also, to achieve my long-term goal of becoming an Organisational Psychologist, I believe the work I do at Sprout will complement this and set me in the right direction.
Your destiny. Your why.
So what’s my why? Life can be hard and taking risks in a society where we’re largely encouraged to strive for stability feels scary!
Sometimes you roll, make a loss and you need to reset and start again. However, without sounding glib, life really does work on a nothing ventured nothing gained track (although your risk should always be well considered).
Never forget, your life is your destiny and for you to decide. My advice next time you’re thinking about your next career move is to ask yourself - are you in control of your destiny or have you rolled over and accepted the career you’ve ‘fallen into’?
The one question you don’t want to be asking yourself later in your working life is, “what if…”.