Career is nowadays one of the most important aspects of our lives. We spend years in studies and continuous professional development and we dedicate our entire work life to progress from one stage to another and to improve our skills and abilities.
In our modern times, most people will start with a day job and move gradually towards building a career. Whether it is a profession only or an occupation based on our calling and vocation, we end up spending almost half of our time working.
We hunt for better opportunities, we collect titles and achievements and we look for higher earnings and a more satisfying life. But things do not always go that smoothly or according to our plan.
DISAPPOINTMENT AND ANXIETY
Sometimes, my clients find that after one or even several jobs they still struggle to find direction in their career. They lack inspiration, they feel undervalued or over-skilled for that role and although they know what they don’t want in a job they still find it difficult to decide the next move.
Other clients hit career setbacks when, despite their hard work and dedication, they are demoted, put on a performance plan, get fired, laid off or they have to cope with a stretch of unemployment.
There are also clients that attempt to move up the career ladder quickly and become frustrated and unhappy with either the culture or the politics within the organization and the industry. This slower rate of moving forward, together with the strong desire to accelerate brings them disappointment and anxiety.
THE UNCERTAINTY OF A SECOND CAREER
A very common trend is today to change the profession altogether. Some of my clients discovered early or late in life a decreased passion for the work they’ve been doing and they decided to start a new career. This was not an easy process and it brought unsettling feelings, from regret, uncertainty, anxiety and self-doubt to profound crisis of confidence around learning a different skill set or breaking into a new industry.
Very often, a second career involved a role in the creative industries, dominated by start-ups run by small teams or solo creatives. These creatives struggled with isolation and faced various challenges. They lacked confidence or felt overwhelmed by the competition, or they experienced the impostor syndrome whilst learning to appreciate their value and fit within the industry.
Creatives doing freelance work found sometimes challenging the admin and the financial side of their business also the marketing of their services. They also struggled with their own perfectionism and the desire to evolve, and at times with the rejection of their prospective market as well.
Having the appropriate guidance during their journey made the move easier and less distressing. It helped them reach some clarity around their dreams and gain understanding of their future plans, and it also kept them focused and accountable on their goals.
THE BURDEN OF LEADERSHIP
The clients in high executive roles experienced both internal challenges, related to their private, social or professional life, or external caused by factors outside of their control.
Leaders operate under significant pressure and need to remain forward-thinking and filter opportunities to strengthen and grow their business. As they aim to leave their mark on that business and create a legacy, they are sometimes tempted to takes risks and close deals that do not align with their company’s mission which can lead to increased distress.
My executive clients struggle sometimes to build and maintain strong management teams and create a safe and supportive environment for their workforce. Sourcing and retaining top talent it is challenging in our dynamic work market and nurturing a strong company culture requires a lot of effort and creativity.
Leaders are also challenged by consisted changes and they need to adjust rapidly to deviations from initial plans and various adversities in the industry, with little or ideally no damage at all. A very common struggle for the executives is to balance the “chaos” of today’s operations with the focus on the strategy for the future.
All of the above, together with the burden of staying ahead of the competition with a unique approach, micromanaging and developing positive relationships “up” and “out” can make the life and work of the executives really tough.
Handling conflicting priorities, very busy diaries and extremely long hours can bring overwhelming feelings and can impact severely on their overall wellbeing. This is why I support high executives to create space for reflection each day, not just for strategic planning, but also for smart use of personal energy and for self-care in work.