So todays post marks the start of a new series for Florence Finds. For a long time I have wanted to involve other people here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the strengths of FF is the community. I know some people would say that they come here to hear what I have to say but I believe theres a lot more we can offer than just my opinion. Sometimes thats via discussion in the comments, but I also happen to know a whole host of intelligent, go-getting, vibrant women who are just as interesting as I am and have many different viewpoints. I want to hear more from these women on topical life issues and so I’m going to co-ordinate various essay series where I ask people with relevant life experiences to share their thoughts on a subject. I’m starting off with careers and Victoria is kicking us off. I asked her to reflect on her career after her recent secondment in Paris and what she has written may make you re-evaluate your perception of your job satisfaction…
As part of January Joy Rebecca asked me to write about a change of career, or even just a job change. I haven’t actually done that for a while though, so I was stuck about what I could write. I then realised that perhaps writing about just a simple change of attitude towards my current situation, and how that actually changed my job, and, if I’m allowed to be dramatic for a moment or two, my life.
Until I made that change, if you’d ask me about my “dream job”, I’d tell you that “I’m still deciding what I want to be when I grow up, *chortle chortle*”. That I was doing “this job” until some divine inspiration about my dazzling “dream career path” came and slapped me on the cheek. In my thirties, that slap still hadn’t happened, and I realised that for me, the title “dream job” is just a Hollywood fabrication!
Illustation by Bella Pilar
For the first four or five years after leaving university I moved on from jobs pretty swiftly, basically when I got bored and needed more out of the role, when I hated the environment I was working in or just simply needed a salary uplift. I moved to my current company over five years ago and I’ve been here ever since. The temptation to move has been there every now and again (money, job-envy, a feeling of stagnation), but I never actually did it. My gut always stopped me. I often look back and wonder why. I wonder if it’s because I found some happiness in what I do. If it’s because solid employment during a period of market and personal instability helped me find happiness by way of job security. I wonder if I haven’t moved on because when I moved here I stopped having panic attacks on the way to the office and crying on the way home. I also found a sense of community, made friends and developed a sense of loyalty to the team and firm and the thought of leaving made me feel a bit sad. That however doesn’t help a career pathway, does it?
On reflection, as well as a combination of the above, I think what actually happened is that I became settled because what I do, may not be my “dream job” but I want to do it, more than I want to do anything else.
It took some personal analysis, perhaps a year or so ago, to realise that. All accidental of course.
Sometimes I find that I get so bogged down in the day-to-day detail of what I do for a living that I forget I don’t actually have to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I have to do something so I can eat, live, drive, travel etc, but it’s not necessarily what I’m doing now that I have to do. I could give it all up and be a vet. I could re-train and become a teacher. I could move to the southern hemisphere and learn to track big cats on safari game reserves. I could hustle and get myself on an internship programme at a glossy magazine. I could go to evening classes and develop skills on floristry, make up artistry, hair dressing, photography and so on. I could drag my wobbly backside to the gym and become a lingerie model… actually, no, I couldn’t. But you get the picture. If I hated what I do now, it is totally within my power to change it and be something else. Yes there’d be sacrifice. Yes it’d be hard work. Yup, the opportunity costs of my decisions would be considerable. But the point is, if I know that I want a change, it’s my responsibility to make it happen. I’ve considered all these career options, and more (NOT the modelling, of course. That was a joke, of course,) some with more seriousness than others and I always end up realising that it’s just a phase, likely encouraged by a TV programme or a conversation with someone about their job and the perceived excitement and glamour it entails… wholly ignoring the downsides!
Anyway, I digress, I was talking about my personal analysis. So, I spent some time reflecting on what it is that I do, and why it is that I do it. I took part in a Myers Briggs test to understand my personal motivations better and enrolled on some training courses at work which incorporated some other personality tests to determine my leadership style. I discovered that all I really want to do is to help people, to be useful and to receive the appropriate recognition for my work. I’m not interested in power or leadership or the glory of achieving it. I want to help other people realise their own glory and all I “need” is to be quietly thanked for helping them do so. I’m an ENFJ in case you’re wondering…
All of a sudden, I stopped day dreaming about what I’d do if I didn’t have to do this and made peace with what I do do. All of a sudden I love what I do a whole lot more, because I’ve realised that if I view my job in the context of what makes me happy, there is so much more happiness and enjoyment I can derive from it.
So, I said it changed my life, I wasn’t being dramatic. I really think that the changes I made effected a number of amazing opportunities for me, one of them being a secondment to our Paris office. This gave me the chance to spend some time working abroad (a personal goal), living what can only be described as a fairy tale life for a short time (see some of my personal highlights from my weekends here,) and pushing me wholly out of my personal and my professional comfort zones (scary but exciting), and thus I came home from Paris a very different person on all counts.
In short, it wasn’t so much an actual physical career or job change that made me happy (or brought me [January] Joy, if you will), more a change in mindset to bring it about within my current situation.
My loved ones noticed how much happier I was at home. My boss, co-workers and clients noticed how much more enthusiastic and applied I was. Great things started to happen. Opportunities opened up, professional relationships became more developed, projects became more interesting and my working day became more fulfilling. All because I started to view them in a different way.
I have always been envious of people that knew what they wanted to be, and how they chose educational and career pathways to make that happen, but I guess I did much the same unconsciously. Really, all I’ve ever wanted to be was a city worker: trains and tubes, take away lattes, snappy meetings, office banter, city suits, after-work drinks, not forgetting the, ahem, important stuff like interesting, challenging opportunities and a work portfolio full of high-profile projects and clients, an international perspective and the opportunity to travel and work with people from around the globe. Recently I’ve also become a “premises snob” and realised that I’ve started assessing future employers on the standard of their building!
So it turns out that I actually have achieved everything I ever wanted from a job and/or a career. I wanted to be a helpful, respected, appreciated city worker, with fun and exciting opportunities available to me, and that I am. And I am happy about it.
I am January Joyful.
PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.