It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Think of life as a marathon. You’re running along a path that leads to the things you’d like, at the times you’d like them. You can stop at any time, rest and reassess your route, and you can use those running ahead of you to inspire you. Just like any race, you’ll see people ahead of you and others behind you.
There’ll even be people running right alongside you, perhaps on the exact path you’re on
Remember that you’re running a marathon, not a sprint. Those around you may dash off the starting blocks, that doesn’t mean you have to. Everyone is different and figures out their path at their own rate.
It’s just as much about the journey as the destination, so research those paths where the daily activities will be incredibly rewarding, and will lead to the destination you want in life.
Look to those runners ahead
A simple way to think about your research is to work backwards. Think about people in work now: they’re the runners ahead of you. Get inside their head and imagine what their race is like. Find out how they chose that path and why.
Think what it’s like to tread, the potential ups and downs, how much specific training you need for the route (and how long) and what keeps them motivated each day. If you can recognise not only the skills they need, but how they developed them, then you’ll have a really good idea of whether or not it suits you.
Look at the choices they made at your age, and how they moved from education to employment. What is it about their personality and attitude that makes them great at their career? How can you achieve those things?
If they are much older than you, the specifics of their route may have changed a little, so do your research to see what may be different now.
Advice v Decision
Just like preparing for a marathon, all types of people will offer you advice on the best routes and best way to go about doing it. Everyone will offer you advice, but you don’t have to take it. People can help towards your decisions, but what’s most important is your own private research and feelings.
Advice comes in all shapes and sizes, from family to teachers, friends to careers advisers. Decision however, only comes from one person: you. It can sometimes feel like people are deciding for you but it’s often done through love and care (even if it doesn’t feel that way).
It’s always important to listen to other people’s opinions (they might have noticed talents of yours, or skills you’d be brilliant at developing), but remember, you make the final decision. They’re not running your career path, so don’t let them shape the whole route for you.
Do what you love (and love what you do)
It’s your life, so make sure you start with you. Start by thinking about 3 things: your passions, hobbies and interests. Create a careers diary. Note down what you love doing and things you dream of or are curious about. Really pay attention to what others notice you’re good at.
Think about the things you love watching on TV and why, the top 5 websites you visit and why, the activities you can’t wait to do at weekends, or the classes at school that fly by because they’re fun and don’t feel like work.
Our favourite saying at Push is: “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life”. If you can make money doing something you love each day (that you’d probably be doing in your free time anyway), then why not pursue it as a career?
It’s much easier to get up in the morning when it’s raining or really early (that will often happen during your marathon), if you’re waking up to something you truly enjoy.
It’s all about personal contentment: all jobs require hard work and dedication – ask yourself which ones you’d still love when you’re shattered at the end of a long day doing it...and which ones you’re happy to wake up to again tomorrow.
What are rewards?
Rewards are your motivation to race: to get up each morning and stay passionate about your chosen route. They help you develop and improve during your marathon, and it’s important to remember that your rewards will change through your life. By making a list of your own rewards, you’ll be doing great race preparation.
Here’s a few rewards (there’s plenty more to explore though): work-life balance, something worthwhile, being creative, being respected, being original, flexibility, helping people, having responsibility, money, opportunity to travel, working with people, working alone, working with animals, working in a team, recognition, having a laugh, being on your feet, making things, designing things, speaking, listening, reading, writing, power and influence, a company that suits your beliefs and world view.
The perfect career
There is only 1 perfect career path to run, and it’s not on any Rich List or league of ‘best jobs’. The perfect route is quite simply the one that matches your personal needs. Your needs are a combination of three things:
Knowing what careers are out there means working backwards – think about some careers? Any you find interesting, look at people doing it now. Be proactive: contact companies in a professional manner – ask if they can help you understand their industry.
If you say to someone “can I ask you some questions about how you got into this job and what skills and talents you feel you need to be successful?” they will be happy to give you a few tips. You can call or email, but try to meet them face-to-face.
Maybe they can help guide you by seeing you regularly and assessing your progress (this is called a mentor, and they’re wonderful). Your mentor may even be able to arrange a work placement for you. They’ll also tell you what qualifications you may need.
Remember: it’s your marathon, so be brave and have confidence in yourself. And if you ever want to stop that path, that’s fine. A lot of people switch careers throughout their lives, so if your path is suddenly turning into one that’s not rewarding, then get off it, take a break and work out a more suitable route (you can still take a lot of the skills you’ve developed already to a new career).
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