Planning your career? Look at your level of work

2012-01-05 10.51.50I first thought seriously about “career development” when working in a big company overseas. At the time I was “in a period of personal growth” (i.e. stressed, confused, anxious) – wondering whether I was on the right path at work, why some things I was doing left me feeling completely unsatisfied and others energised me – despite the fact that the work I was doing all seemed the same. I was working in a very specialised field on some interesting things but was struggling with a question we all have in our careers: what’s my future?* Where should I be heading and – without writing anything in stone – what should I be doing now to get there?

From the outside, everything looked like success. I had a law degree, practiced law for a while in Sydney and Canberra, worked for the government on interesting cutting-edge policy and legislation to do with telecoms, privacy, social media and law enforcement. My credibility among other people, my family and friends, was pretty high. But my instincts told me something was wrong. I needed to find some answers about myself that were different and challenging to what I already knew. I knew I didn’t want to be doing this forever, but what else could I do? So I began a process to explore the individual career development market in order to find models and techniques that might give me some clues on where I could head.

I tried (and spent!) my way through a range of things and at one point felt as if I’d never have the answer I needed. 

I needed to ask the right question.  

The question I started out asking was, what is the perfect role for me? What industry am I best suited to that is a good match for my skills and experience? In fact, the question I should have asked was: What *type* or *level* of work do I find most satisfying now? And when I say ‘level’, I’m talking about complexity – the number of variables, the timeline to completion, how ‘big’ or ‘small’ the problems are. And of course, what type of work is going to satisfy me in the future.

What I realised were these 3 key lessons about myself and my career:

There is no ‘right’ industry for me.

There is a type (level of complexity) of work that I feel comfortable with and energised by right now.

There is a level of work I should be aiming at in the future in order to be satisfied by my work over the course of my career.

I will be forever grateful that these lessons were revealed to me at a relatively early stage in my career. And I’m now lucky enough to help others based on where and how they feel most energised. And that’s the great value of our work – what we do is to open up people’s eyes to the possibilities of looking beyond the nuts and bolts of “their” industry and their current role to what they can achieve in the future.

Now let us be straight with you. Talentfinder is not an easy ‘tick and flick’ exercise or online test. It’s not warm and fuzzy either. It’s a conversation about how you think and act. It’s all about how you make sense of complexity and trust me, while we do apply some pressure, you will find it interesting and very helpful. But the most important part of the whole process is the conversation we have afterwards, those moments that we hope to flick a switch and open you up to possibilities you didn’t think were possible. I am still finding value in my Talentfinder profile – and that was years ago!

So if you are curious about what we do, steel yourself and get in touch. You’ll be glad you did.

*Systems Leadership: Creating Positive Organisations tells us that there are 3 questions we all have about our work – What am I expected to do and why? How am I going? What’s my future?