#JanuaryJoy: Refocus on your career – Victoria, Marketing Executive

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…

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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.

Victoria x

PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.

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17 thoughts on “#JanuaryJoy: Refocus on your career – Victoria, Marketing Executive

  1. I never comment but…I just had to say how great it is that you’re sounding so happy VH! Very thought provoking – it is easy to get caught up in a daydream about what perfect would look like, while not fully appreciating what you do have. Nobody’s making you do it, so you must enjoy it on some level, and you should embrace that. And recognise how good you are at what you do, and find joy in that knowledge. And a secondment to Paris never hurts!

  2. Hi, I get a lot of this. I know my current job can be frustrating (sometimes *really*frustrating) but I love what I do even though in some ways I fell into it as I only applied as my post was about to be made redundant, and the post before that and the post before that. Here I am though 3 years later and though it is hard I will really miss it when I go. So though the commute right now is really tough since I moved 500 miles up the road I feel very lucky to have found a job where I am recognised, do make a difference and do make things happen and one where I met honest to goodness friends too. Those are rare and valuable.

    I have no idea what to do next though, as I fell into something I love but am not sure I want the pressure of this role in my next one? Or maybe if I have this much responsibility I’d like to have some power to match it, but this post made me reflect on this all and feel a lot better about my choices. Thank you.

  3. I love reading and nosing about other people’s jobs as really I know nothing about what people do if they aren’t in my line of work. (Seriously, I have friends who work in finance. I have no idea WHAT they actually do. Boyfriend is an engineer. No idea what he actually does either). However I really hate the Myers-Briggs -I can be several different things depending how I feel on the day I’m doing it!!!!

    • ooo, I really liked the Myers-Briggs test. It was also fun learning what those around me are.

      It was a different test that initially piqued my interest. It was for a training course and prior to the course we had to complete a similar list of questions to the MB test. At the course we were given our “behaviour” graphs with a line on them. My “normal” chart was like a capital N, and it expanded and contracted in the other charts based on my “under stress” feelings and “happiness” feelings. It wasn’t until the end of the two days that I realised mine was the only graph that did that. Everyone else’s flipped vertically, reversed horizontally or changed completely.

      I asked the trainer why and he said it was because I’m me, with the same thoughts, feelings, reactions, actions and attributes, regardless of my environment or situation – work, play, disasters, alone at home – the lot. My “work mask”, “behaviour under pressure” and my “self image” graphs were all just bigger or smaller versions of each other. Which means that i’m not having to alter who I am to be in the work place, which means I must just be happy… or i don’t give a **** what people think of me, or what’s required of me. And I haven’t been sacked yet, so it must be the former! 🙂

      I thought it was really interesting to see what I think I already knew, laid out in graph format to prove it!

      Amazingly, the write up about my personality that was generated was also 100% spot on.

      I’d recommend it, just for interest. I think it’s a PPA profile or something…

    • Hi Anita,

      One thing about Myers-Briggs is that it has to be done formally by a proper qualified person who can guide your responses. If that happens your answers won’t change.

      When I was still a GP trainee my trainer did an MB on me and I am an ENTJ (- he was trained to do so.) I have always been quite a self-aware personality and so a lot of it wasn’t news to me but he used it as a tool to undermine me and highlight the possible negatives to me as a person. It was extremely destructive and shattered my self-confidence for a while so I think they have to be undertaken with care. I now know there are positives to my personality and I told someone else who knows a lot about it last week what my personality type was and was described as a ‘fantastic asset’ which was much nicer!

      The biggest revelation to me was about the difference between introvert and extrovert personalities. I always understood that to be extroverted as in loud and outgoing etc, whereas in MB it pertains to your thought process. Ie I, as an extrovert, prefer to talk over theories and problems in a group and verbalise things, making a decision quickly and sometime on the spot as a result. Introverts prefer time to consider the matter in private and turn it over in their mind, then will come back to a group with a decision at a later date. This has been extremely useful to me at work when dealing with groups and personalities within teams. Previously I thought introverts were hiding things from me or deceptive whereas now I understand its just the way they process things. It’s very interesting if you’re into it!

      • Totally fascinating! We spent ages discussing it within the team. We were all so different, and yet shared enough common qualities that we work together as a team really well. I think it’s amazing how close to the truth they get with just 100 controlled questions!

        • I just did it and am an ESFJ. It said I care about the way I look AND am really social and outgoing and the life of the party which is just bollocks (I put 100% agree with wanting to spend time alone at home or with my Partner) but generally, it was spot on about hearing criticism about myself. Interesting way to kill 20 minutes.

          • OK, well after hearing all of you talking about how great Myers-Briggs is, I did it again for the first time in a while and also got ENFJ like Victoria. A lot of it does describe me well (interested in people, loathe conflicts and criticism) but I was a bit upset to see that I should stay away from stressful careers- including medicine… Too late!

  4. I loved your post Victoria and I too wanted the city life, tube travel, latte drinking bit. I have that and I still find that exciting. Shifting perspective in the way that you did is such a fresh approach and as a reader of far too many worky self help books, I don’t think any have suggested what you have done. I love organising things and project managing, I’m newly responsible for a team of 6 which I’m thrilled about. I’m going to focus on those things!

    Thanks for your great post!

  5. Well timed post- I was offered a secondment yesterday out of the blue and had to say yes today! Very much not happy in my current place, so let’s see what this brings. Change is good…right?

  6. Very interesting article. I remember the point when I came to a very similar realisation. A lot of so-called “job dissatisfaction” is simply a feeling of “wanting to be elsewhere”. Once you get over that feeeling, you realise that everything in the universe is exactly the way it’s supposed to at this moment…

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