Prior to having children I worked a lot. I was the first in the office and the last to leave. I was never without my Blackberry. I even answered emails when I was at the movie theater. Within the management team I was a part of, there was an unspoken understanding that whoever worked harder and longer won. What, I am not sure…
After having my first child I knew I could not return to working in that way. I could not work with that type of schedule and also be available for my daughter in a way that I wanted to. My husband was working in a role that demanded huge amounts of his time. It was important to us that one of us had flexibility. Flexibility then became a core work value – up until having children I had never really thought about what it meant to have a flexible work environment. Every career step I have made in the last 6 years has been following the path of career flexibility. I know that working full time in a traditional job is an economic necessity for many families. I have times when I have worked full time and times where I have worked flexible contracts. At the moment I have two jobs, one working part time as an executive recruiter and also working for myself as a career coach and HR consultant. We have made a lot of choices as a family to give me this flexibility. My husband stayed at his job long after my instincts as a career coach said he should leave because we needed one of us to have a steady paycheque.
People choose job and career paths for so many reasons. Choosing the right one for you is based on many factors. You occupy so many different (and often conflicting/competing) roles and being a worker in whatever capacity is simply one of them. It is crucial to think about and identify why you are working and what values you are looking for prior to choosing any career. The following exercise will help you get clear on what really matters to you and why.
1. Get out a pen and a piece of paper and answer the following question: Who do you admire? And what do you admire about them? Now list all of the reasons you admire this person.
2. Repeat this exercise for another person you admire.
3. The next step is to circle the words and phrases resonating the most for you. Which ones jump off the page? We all have lots of values, so this is by no means a complete list. What we want to see is a snapshot of where you are today and what is most important for you right now.
4. Now condense the list down to approximately five values. There’s power in understanding what inspires and drives us. By naming your values you create an important avenue for identifying what you want most in the work you do.