Sometimes Following a Leap into Something New We Realise Our Original Choice Was a Better One but We Then Struggle to Get Back to That
When people come to me saying they’re unhappy in their work and want to find something that has more meaning to them and is inspiring in a way that gets them out of bed in the morning and keeps them sustained throughout the day — from the here and now into the future.
I always say that as we go through the process and we consider, evaluate, and reality check a number of options, they may discover that the job they’re in is not so bad after all or perhaps the new WorkLife they choose will take a little time and planning and in the short-term, they may have to stay put, but they will need to effect some changes to improve their current circumstances. Now that’s not what people want to hear, but it is better to know before jumping ship that the grass is not always greener.
The Greener Grass syndrome is probably something we all know of or have experienced. Sometimes when a client comes to me, it’s because they made a leap into something new, and they’ve come to realise that actually, their original WorkLife was a better choice for them, but they’re finding it a challenge to get back in.
Let’s take Arjun’s story as an example:
Arjun began his WorkLife in Human Rights law, which he really enjoyed. He was involved in some high profile cases, which drew attention to him and his talent. As a result, he was head-hunted into the arena of Commercial law and supported in his re-training. A completely different world which he may have enjoyed for a time but soon grew tired of and, as a result, considered law might not actually be for him.
And so he took a sabbatical, during which time he set up a juice bar which took off overnight and became a huge success, but then the recession hit and his business was affected, and he had to let his staff go, and he was running a one-man show and working all the hours under the sun. This took a toll on his health, and he became seriously ill and had to sell his business. During the long road to recovery, he had plenty of time for reflection, and he came to realise that law was his passion, not Commercial law but Human Rights law, and so he set about getting back into doing this.
This is where he began to encounter obstacles. Having been away from this area of law for over three years, his CV wasn’t getting past 1st base with recruitment consultants or job boards, and so he began to work with a WorkLife Coach.
It’s important to have the bases of recruitment consultants and job boards covered, but in this current competitive environment, you can only be proactive about connecting with consultants and applying for jobs, but then you’re reactive because you’re waiting for an opportunity to come through. So you need to be proactive with moving your job search on to speculative approaches and networking.
Arjun and his coach both knew that once he got in front of an employer, he’d get the job. This was because he made a great first impression, he was passionate about his work, and he would get the opportunity to explain why he left this particular area and why he wanted to return.
But he was still facing a brick wall. He could not get past 1st base of being invited along for an interview. And, so he had to consider what else could be done.
I’m a firm believer of ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will come’ or an opportunity will arise and out of no way will come a way. This is exactly what happened. By way of research that Arjun was carrying out as a part of his job search strategy, he came across an opportunity that would support him in getting back into human rights law.
But it was in South Africa. While he knew the particular piece of work would look great on his CV and allow him to connect and network with individuals and organisations that could facilitate his move back into what he wanted to do, it would involve moving to South Africa for six months.
He loved his life in London, but he knew he had to do what he had to do and so he applied and was successful in securing the role. At the end of the six months, he accepted a three-year assignment to work closely with the United Nations. This was part of his longer-term plan that came about much more quickly than he had dreamed.
And so, before making that move to what you might consider are greener pastures, perhaps first take time to consider if there are any changes you can effect to make your current situation better.
I always think if your career is a 70% fit in terms of your values, interests, and motivators, you’ll be able to get some of what might be missing in your life outside of work.
For example, you might not like being desk-bound or office or city-based, and so you figure out how to design your work so that it doesn’t demand you’re always at your desk or in the office and at weekends you get out in the country. In most cases, this is achievable as we move towards a more mobile way of working.
Now, all that said, I do actually think that we all have more than one career in our lifetime, and with longevity, there’s space for a whole new career between retirement and death, but that’s for another post.
Arjun’s story was featured in my book: Your WorkLife Your Way.
Click on the above title for an inside view of the book, to see the other topics and assignments which have been created to help you manage your WorkLife learning, development and growth.
The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories I share my own experiences, and with permission stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.