As you know, the realisation that I am facing at least another twenty two-ish years of working has recently hit me. Frankly, it should be depressing… but is it? I’m battling with this, but one thing I do know is that depending on your situation it doesn’t need to be. You certainly don’t have to be so worried about it if you’re earlier in your working life. It will give you some more time to think about your retirement planning for example.
So, in an attempt to be more positive that I have occasionally been, I’ve been asking what good can come out of this? I always try to be positive and give even the most negative situation some meaning.
For one thing, It affords time to change careers, to revisit and freshen existing skills and the ability to develop new ones. Perhaps it will even allow more people to take career breaks, returning with plenty of time to still make an impact on their career.
But to do this, we must be willing to change. We must take time and invest in broadening our skills. We must continue to learn. We must say yes when opportunity knocks.
Volunteering is an excellent way to prepare for the future. It can give you an opportunity to keep unused skills fresh, create new ones and build your network of contacts and promoters. I had an interest in communications for example, so I volunteered for a charity as a Publicity Assistant. A few years later, I am an accredited PR Practitioner with a great job in communications.
Mentoring is also an exciting opportunity to grab when it presents itself. Many large employers have formal mentoring and coaching schemes. A good mentor can help you develop skills and knowledge; a good coach can help you work out how you want to use them and the direction you want to take your career.
But you don’t have to rely on a formal scheme to benefit from this. Some of the most successful people will have had a mentor and are happy to pay it forward. Approach individuals in your organisation who you admire (and outside for that matter!) and ask if they would mentor you in a particular area, or at the very least allow you to shadow or observe them. You may even get lucky and be the first in line when a development opportunity or job comes up in their teams in the future!
In doing all this, don’t be afraid to nurture the other parts of your life. After all, wouldn’t we all like to make a living from our passion. Mine is writing. Right now it’s here in the blogging world. But a few years ago I explored fiction writing. I’d always wanted to try writing a book. I did, then another, and another. The experience of independent publishing as well as working with a traditional publisher taught me a huge amount about publicity and marketing. All of that set me in good stead for a change from recruitment to communications as my “main job”. I make a little income on the side too. Blogging is much the same.
Of course, there are challenges around working for longer. Am I entirely happy about it? No I’m not. But if I’m going to have to, you can be damn sure I’m going to try and spend it doing something I love. And if it’s something I haven’t worked out how to do yet, or even thought of, there will be time.
How do you want to spend the rest of your working life? Will you be changing careers? Is there a dream you want to chase. Give it some thought and post in the comments. I love hearing other peoples stories.
But in the meantime my message is this, when the universe presents you with an opportunity: SAY YES. That skill or experience could come in useful in the future.
PLANNING FOR FUTURE GOALS?