/ How did you work out what you want to do with you career/life?
It's something that's been floating round my head for a while. I generally enjoy my work, but have no passion or excitment for work.
At the moment I'm bored at work which has led to wider questions of what I do and why.
So, have you found something that really fulfuls you? How did you discover it? Was it something you stumbled in to or was it a purposeful process of searching?
>"I generally enjoy my work, but have no passion or excitment for work."
I think most people struggle getting beyond just existing. In these difficult times itís not going to be easy to get what you want. It seems to me few of us are endowed the required qualities to arrange a fulfilling life.
Didn't have a clue until my early 30s then after doing courses in mountain first aid and progressing to teaching it, decided I wanted to be a Paramedic. Been in the ambulance service 5yrs now and love it.
jokes aside I think most of us drift towards things in life and what we want to drift towards changes as we live. Few of us have master plans and stick to them BUT it is nice to have an aim to move towards. Wether we get to it depends on a lot of variables and choices.
I decided not to be a rock photographer, not to be a oil rig worker, not to be an accountant and have been a project manager for about 12 years. I enjoy, its ok, not too boring and pays the bills. Am I passionate abou the job... nope, but I work to live.
If youre at a cross roads, head down the path you want and see where it goes, at least try to have no regrets.
lol. my tuppenth. :)
I guess I'm at point of reflaction. There are a couple of options floating in the distance but nothing specific yet.
Maybe the question is more about finding things that inspire or make you passionate. I've done jobs I love in the past (sailing/windsurf instructor, youth worker etc) but they fairly quickly got boring.
So other than climbing, what are the things that you really care about? What gets you out of bed?
I think most people are too scared to do something that really interests them or to take the plunge to do something that really interests them.
I'm lucky in that I enjoy my job I guess. It's not always amazingly interesting, but it's generally good fun.
No harm reflecting, but the answer to your question won't necessarily tell you what job to do. What do I care about? My family, travelling, my home. So, to spend time with my family, go travelling and live in a nice home, I need money. Therefore I need a job that pays enough. The fact that I love my job is a bonus. Many people don't have that luxury, but realise that slogging away at a boring job let's them lead the lifestyle they want, be that climbing, nice house, travel or whatever. Others have a job they love, and accept lower income for the bonus of loving their job. A few have the holy grail of a high paid job they enjoy.
Let's be honest though. How many people would still do full time salaried work if they didn't need the money, e.g. they won millions on the lottery? Many, myself included, would still do a bit, or volunteer, or start a business, but not full time and not working for someone else.
I would suggest you look at jobs where every day is different, but reading your post it already seems you have, and if you're still bored, I'm not sure what you're looking for.
So I had to do a bit of research to look at the types of jobs that allow me to stay close to science but not do the drudgery of lab work. It took a while to find med comms; for me it is a fulfilling job, filled with challenges and laughs, but isn't for everyone.
So look at what you like and what you don't like and research what jobs might fill that criteria.
> I think most people struggle getting beyond just existing. In these difficult times itís not going to be easy to get what you want. It seems to me few of us are endowed the required qualities to arrange a fulfilling life.
What a depressing thread this is. You may be sadly right re 'most' people, but a lot of people are extremely motivated. Lack of motivation is one of the diseases of the UK at the moment, IMHO. 'In these difficult times itís not going to be easy to get what you want.' Times have always been difficult, mostly a lot more difficult than now. 'It seems to me few of us are endowed the required qualities to arrange a fulfilling life.' Utter tosh. Most people are extremely talented at one or two things, but never do anything about developing and fulfilling those talents.
Other comments on this gloomy thread: 'I have no passion or excitement for work.' I believe that just about any job under the sun can be interesting and even enjoyable if approached in the right spirit of doing it really well. If you don't enjoy work you are indeed mightily handicapped.
'I think most people struggle getting beyond just existing.' Disgraceful to hear this, as if we are a third world country suffering from famine and extreme poverty. We are very, very lucky to live in such an affluent society, with so many opportunities.
'I think most of us drift towards things in life.' This makes me really angry. I have met very few people who just drift through life - I guess I mix with people who are interesting/interested in life/ being creative.
'What gets you out of bed?' Er, life. Nature. The world. Being creative. Whatever ongoing project one has. The real problem is fitting conflicting interests into the small space of one day.
'I think most people are too scared to do something that really interests them or to take the plunge to do something that really interests them.' This is truly pathetic. Why are people so scared? Scared of what? Of living a more interesting life ???
I guess I was born lucky in that I was wanting to make and create things and explore from about the age of 7 onwards. Also, I was just so enthusiastic about life, and still am. My grandfather told my brother and I that we'd always be alright because we had the one thing that really matters: enthusiasm.
I can empathise with this sensation of feeling lost - I felt like that for a long time. I started out as a freelancer just over a year ago, and promptly wondered why I hadn't done it earlier. It turns out that if you want to do something, can get a bit of experience, and you can muster up some confidence to get out and talk to people about it, good things can begin to happen. The things I do are a) copywriter/proofreader, b) ad hoc university lecturer in photography, c) arts events manager. N.B. I don't have any special qualifications to do any of these things, but they're all things I find interesting and fulfilling.
Of course everyone's experience is different, but for me, I'm getting to use some of my skills/talents/call them what you will, I feel more pride in my work, I have more flexibility to do non-work things, my relationship with the money I earn has changed completely (for the better!), and if all goes well, I won't have to go through some particularly loathed aspects of previous jobs again (appraisals, for instance). All from a bit of enforced bravery.
The other good thing about committing to giving something a try, is that once you've taken the leap once, you realise you could do it again. This all sounds super-obvious, but it took me years to get round to some of it.
You might have to compromise along the way, for example you might have to take a part time role doing something you don't like in order to pay the bills so you can do the thing you do like, or you might have to take a 'stepping stone' role, but that's life.
Gordon, you make some great points but need you be quite so withering? Not everyone has your confidence.
Well, I am really quite angry about the negativity expressed. No attempt to be withering, just wanted to express myself honestly. What I'm complaining about is precisely people 'withering'. When I was young I never had enormous confidence, in fact until about the age of 30 I was inordinately shy, and only started to feel quite confident at about the age of 40, despite previous successes. But I have always been very excited, motivated, enthusiastic about what I've been working on. Part of being creative is not being too confident, sure of oneself/ self-satisfied. You have to be so critical of yourself.
Always been a writer in some form or other for as long as I can remember. It was never a decision I consciously made; sometimes I think I had no choice in the matter!
Worth noting that I don't currently make a living out of writing, but then again hardly anyone does so this doesn't bother me. In my day job I'm a phone salesman/adviser, which I also find fulfilling as I get to work with technology, solve problems, and talk to people. It isn't my occupation in life though.
Your invective has cheered it up no end!
I still haven't
I used to do a job my heart wasn't in. I went through cycles of which the high point was coming to terms with it, the low point being staring into oblivion as I contemplated what the future held. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to retrain - I couldn't have just decided to at any point, it's massively expensive.
Now I'm training to do something scientific and useful and it's like I've got my identity back. I love science, understanding how nature works is great because it's always so much more incredible than anything you could dream up. Whether I retain this level of enthusiasm once I'm actually working full time again remains to be seen, but I'll know that it was an active choice to do what I'm doing, not the result of apathy and delaying a decision that ended me up in a job I felt was worthless, and which in my own view I was crap at.
So, I think it makes a big difference whether you do something that your heart's in or not, but I don't think it's easy to end up doing something you love (in part because of our education system which I've ranted about before). Some people are naturally focused and motivated and know what they want to do instinctively, which is great for them. Others are less fortunate in how well their personality happens to match up to the opportunities that life throws out, or which are part and parcel of the society they grow up in.
It's easy to take some polarised position like "life is full of opportunities and anyone can take them if they want them" or "life just deals out to people whatever it does and that's that" but I think there's a whole world in between. Everyone's different and everyone's circumstances are different. For some it's easy to find themselves doing what they love and being successful at it. For others, it's rather more difficult or other things take priority, or there just isn't that desire. I guess knowing yourself well is the only sensible place to start.
Not very helpful, sorry, but I quite enjoyed pondering on it.
I really want to to something towards conservation, in the end because I can't think of any reason not to.
For me that's how i've realised it's what i'd like to do.
Any reason which seems like a good reasons, and lots of reasons why it's worth doing.
Have always gone out in the peak district since I could walk, and it feels like it's become part of who I am, to be outdoors and to value it.
It's made me want to do 'something' towards looking after the environment.
I don't know if i'll end up with a job i'd like, but i'm going to try, and it'll shape how I live, which is the next best thing.
Maybe have a think about what's important to you?
I'm starting to see how it's the long term view which matters rather than what you'd like to do right now.
Saw it on a film, thought that's what I want to do and did it.
I can honestly say that I feel like I've never done a day's 'work' in my life since I gave up digging ditches on a building site and got my proper job. Some days were a lot of effort but none was 'work'. I could not believe people would pay me for it.
Taking the plunge might have been a lot easier in times where life (and social status, which seems to have implications for longevity) was a little less capital intensive.
I had a dream of a particular career and essentially worked the first 17 years of my life towards making it happen. Then it vanished literally overnight. The idea of drifting through life instead isn't actually all that bad.
In the film industry (in the cutting rooms, that is) social status meant nothing, in fact a public school accent was a slight handicap, I'd say. And I was advised (correctly) never to mention to anyone that I'd been at film school. I was v hard up for about two years, and it took me 4 years to get a union ticket, then things were a lot easier, and improved very rapidly. But I've always been freelance, so I've never had any real job security. So I'm used to big ups and downs, and 'fallow' periods.
Yes, goals can be a big mistake. I don't think I've ever achieved a single precise, longterm goal, but unexpected doors have opened, just as others have slammed shut. The whole film industry slammed shut on me, as it happened. I'm now, in effect, on my 5th career. But it's really more like one unfolding story. I wouldn't want it any other way.
I have pretty much been having fun for a year, snowboarding season (worked as a cleaner), traveling about climbing in Europe in our van and lastly traveling about South America doing the backpacking thing... Since I left my job I too am contemplating what to do on my return. I think even if you find a good job you like you will still have times when you find it boring/unfulfilling. I came to the conclusion in my last job... (Project management which I loved) a large part of it was the people I worked with. I was in a fun team, had managers around me I respected and worked for an organsation which did good things. (Housing).
I also discovered that we are bloody lucky to have a choice. Working as a cleaner was hard work for little pay, no recognition or "career path" was utterly demoralising. And traveling around developing countries has opened my eyes a bit. I am considering going back to a career I binned (audit) on my return because it is a lot better than some of the jobs people have to do for a fraction of the pay.
You should try different companies in the same line of work. If you are still searching after that jsut try different careers until you find one you like or endure the most.
Work was always a means to an end for me - to buy beer and petrol for the car to get out and play.
I never had a job I was passionate about even though whatever work I turned my hand to I worked hard at it - even packing boxes as a student in a soap factory and grouting bricks down a sewer.
I realised about 10 years ago that you can't spend all your life working for someone else and that's why I'm doing what I'm doing now - killing two birds with one stone.
If I was a brain surgeon at Airdale General I'd still be looking out the window and wishing I was out in the Dales.
I think life is a series of clues and if you're smart, you take heed of them. I've worked on a murder squad, been a life model, stacked shelves, written and I still don't know what I want to do, but with every option you tick off, you get a bit nearer towards something that's best suited for you. I also second Gordon Stainforth's point that most people do have particular talents but are too lazy/other to follow through. I'm in that boat with a couple of things right now and the onus is on me to make things happen.
People may sometimes feel that what's 'right' for them is at odds with society; we are told our values and if you want to be happy, it often involves tuning out what we think we 'should' want. I don't give a toss about money or power or office politics or getting the corner office which may set me at odds at the school reunion but you've got to go with what you want in the purest sense.
Just to enlarge on what I said in my last post: by 'goals' I meant big, overall long-term goals. For some reason these seldom happen. But always there have to be immediate goals, a bit like pitches on a multipitch climb where you are inventing or discovering a route. You also have to be quick on your feet, and seize unexpected opportunities when they open up, even if they take you in a (slightly new direction). Climbing analogy: traversing. And of course, sometimes you 'fall off' and then try a different route... You definitely have to be a bit gutsy, because it often means not taking the easiest (dull) option.
I notice you live in London. That's something I decided a while ago wouldn't be for me. Living somewhere that's 10 minutes from a crag is an enormous plus.
Different folk do different things to fill the void - with greater or lesser degrees of success. Doesn't have to be a rewarding job though. Good luck with whatever it is you choose.
> You definitely have to be a bit gutsy, because it often means not taking the easiest (dull) option.
I'm probably the wrong person to give advice. I used to have a career that interested me and I was excited about, but it paid appallingly, and I just got sick of being scared of the next bill coming through the door.
A friend of mine was an accountant, and since she always appeared to be, if not well off, certainly comfortable, when I was made redundant it was a direction I looked in.
Actually, these days, I'm an information & data specialist, and the job is quite interesting. The office politics are utter sh*te though.
However it gives me enough cash to do lots of other things in my life, which was the point, and even the most interesting job can be made hell by the people you are working with, so whilst I'm not happy, I'm not unhappy either.
I don't really think long term - 5 year - plans are worth the paper they're written on. Too many things can happen to disrupt them. Life never works out how you expect.
However, it can be helpful to have a "theme" to what you do. And I would suggest choosing something you're passionate about.
My two pennies worth.
> Yes, goals can be a big mistake. I don't think I've ever achieved a single precise, longterm goal, but unexpected doors have opened, just as others have slammed shut. The whole film industry slammed shut on me, as it happened. I'm now, in effect, on my 5th career. But it's really more like one unfolding story. I wouldn't want it any other way.
Can remember my dad once said that you can drift if you don't have goals, through my volunteering i've met new friends as well as becoming qualified and getting experience in a few things. It's been good for my general happiness level as well as hopefully usefull. I read that happier people are generally more successfull, because they're more open to new possibilities and likely to volunteer for things at work, and are more communicative and outgoing, which can be helpfull for networking, so it's all to the good, even if it's in a way i'd not planned it would be. It's been an interesting two years, it's laid the foundations for my next phase it seems.
I have been going through similar dilemas recently. I have a decent job, and recognise that I am lucky to have it, so not feeling sorry for myself from that angle. However I have been thinking lately whether it is really what I want to do. I love aspects of it, and it could be a really good job with good opportunities, but more often than not I get totally frustrated and angry by aspects out of my control - my boss, being overloaded with work, negativity from some of the people I have to work with, and having what I consider to be my skills stifled and constrained. The difficulty is that I work in a niche market - there is no other job which offers the same opportunities and potential interest - and there is no career progression (if I want to progress).
So I'm struggling with whether I stick it out in the hope that things will change (current action plan) whilst trying to work out what else I can and want to do, whether that's in a similar field or not. Trouble is I am not amazing at anything - true jack of all trades!
Any thoughts welcome...
i agree with all that; v well put. I realise though that I am not really a good person to give advice re more standard careers, because my working life has been utterly un-standard, in fact I don't know anybody who has followed quite such an unorthodox route as myself. But another general point I'd like to make is that I see life as as series of 'projects' - each one is more like a fulfilling a fantasy rather than aiming at a goal prescribed by someone else (the best things are when you have an original idea). But it has to be an attainable, realistic fantasy. A bit like climbing projects really. I.e something right at your limit but definitely not beyond the bounds of possibility. Of course, there are lots of failures and disappointments, but if something doesn't work out you just have to move on. But it's always better to fail than not to try. Nothing is ever wasted. I can't think of a single job I've done where I was wasting my time ... well maybe driving a van once for a few months when I was out of work (but I was making notes 'in my head' for a screenplay ...) Often those 'strange' jobs can come in very useful later in life.
You are in a real dilemma, as you've so clearly expressed it. On balance, but only just, I would say be gutsy. and go for a change. A jack of all trades is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact it's a very strong thing to be. Too many people have far too narrow a range of skills, and many jobs actually demand a wide range of skills. Why I say change is that you never know: you just might find you're brilliant at something, or far better at something, than you ever realised, and you're never going to find that out by sticking where you are.
How old are you? If you're a bloke and in your 40's then i'd suggest this is pretty standard.
I'm 47 and still have no idea what i want to do with my life.....and that's me maried, kids, a good career and a stuck with a substantial mortgage.
I envy people who knew what they wanted and went and got it.....i'd like to think i'd have been the same but I just had no idea what i wanted!
Well, only you can find that. You wouldn't have raised it if a) you think it's impossible to find something different, b) you didn't want to change.
At least I think I mean lyrically, i'm tired and can't find the word.
> How old are you? If you're a bloke and in your 40's then i'd suggest this is pretty standard.
> I'm 47 and still have no idea what i want to do with my life.....and that's me maried, kids, a good career and a stuck with a substantial mortgage.
> I envy people who knew what they wanted and went and got it.....i'd like to think i'd have been the same but I just had no idea what i wanted!
Perhaps the idea of 'want' is the big mistake? Some kind of dream Valhalla which is all about 'success' and 'kudos' and a big salary. How does anyone know what they want. when the range of options is so huge and typically, their imagination is so small? It's the work itself, the journey, that matters, not the goal. That may sound like a cliche, but it's so true. It's not the end that matters but the doing of it. You have to find some activity you enjoy doing, and not think about some nebulous goal or 'want'.
> You have to find some activity you enjoy doing
All good points and i think this one is particularly pertinent. Perhaps i've been conned by 80's American Teen cinema that somehow we have to discover who we are and what we want rather than what we enjoy. I spent most of my childhood wanting to be popular when it was never going to happen (short ugly geeky poor kid in a town ful of snobs) rather than being proud of myself and what i enjoyed.
I agree about the journey, i don't climb much anymore but i get a similar buzz from when i get succes at work (even though i hate my job) ao maybe i've achieved my goals just not in the way i thought i would.....
PS. to last. Again it's a bit like climbing, isn't it? Only the layman thinks it's about 'getting to the top', when primarily it's about getting up the crux, and the quality of the entire route. Joe Brown put it well when he said that he's often disappointed when he gets to the top, because he's been enjoying it so much he's often sorry when it comes to an end.
Life is iterative.
As it goes on, you'll know when to change it. Like football - you might hate the manager and be played out of position, but stick with it and the right team will come along.
This thing of 'who we are' (as if we're some neat little labelled box) is bollocks, because we change as we live and develop (or don't develop if we don't allow ourselves to.) The Socratic thing of 'know thyself' is very different; it's a lifelong quest.
Life is iterative, I like that. It really is. Thanks.
I'm stuck between a job I find reasonably OK - meets a lot of quality-of-life needs like low-stress, friendly environment, part time fixed hours etc but doesn't massively inspire me. And not deciding whether it's worth taking the risk of leaving to do something I'm passionate about but the work environment might not suit me.
Also I've seen a lot of people earning far more than I do get stuck in a job because however much they earn they always need slightly more, and so can't risk even a temporary a drop in income.
Learning to live on relatively little (I realise there's a limit below which this becomes a problem), and building up even a small buffer of savings will hugely increase your options.
Thanks to all for interesting replies. I'm currently a project manager, but have had the opportunity to try lots of different things over the ten years - business strategy, M&A, business improvement, quality management, bid writing, engineering design, commercial management, youth work, watersports, etc.
The project I was brought in to run has been on hold for 3 months so I currently spend 8 hours a day at a desk with nothing to do. I'm happier working a 60+ hour week than I am doing nothing. With all the changes in work I've also lived all over the UK and in a couple of places internationally. I've lived near crags (bouldering 5 mins from the office) and expected to hate London life, but I love it.
My social life is ful - I've got a great group of people I do life with, and as a bonus a few of them climb too.
One thing I was told early in my career was never to aim for a particular role as part of a '5 year plan'. The pace of market change is such that a specific role may well not exist in 5 years time.
I was advised to view the work market place as a map. Know your surroundings. Know your field and how it's changing. Follow market trends and understand dynamics. The other thing you need with your map is a compass. Your compass is your personal direction, your motivation. Learn yourself so you know the things that drive you.
Used together they can be powerful tools in finding the right job.
My issue currently is that my 'map' is limited to the things I know. This sounds obvious, but I'm trying to expand this map into new areas that might interest me. My 'compass' also needs refining. I'm working to distill the 'wants' I have that have developed from seeking approval from others to the things that are actually important to me. Turns out that's harder than I thought...
I like this: Know your surroundings. Know your field and how it's changing... the other thing you need with your map is a compass. Your compass is your personal direction, your motivation. Learn yourself so you know the things that drive you.
I hadnt had chance to return to this thread until now and I see my use of the word drifting annoyed, perhaps thats the wrong word, it sounds like its not in your control, what I was really saying was movement, like steering a raft on a river, age and time pulls you along and you steer towards the objects you want to and away from the others, sometimes its good to be in a rapid challenging and sometimes a bit of deep tranquil smooth is good, but either way you control direction.
just to clarify. :)
For me it's all be reactive rather than pro-active. That doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed it, in fact probably more than my original 'life plan'.
I grew up watching jacques cousteau on TV so I knew the world needed more marine biologists. Unfortunately having graduated I discovered that there wasn't a great market in Birmingham in the 1980's.
Like a lot of people from that era, I 'fell' into IT. Overall it's been a more profitable, and possibly more interesting field than had I actually found work in my marine biology.
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