By Amalia Chilianis

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it” Maya Angelou, civil rights activist, poet and storyteller.

Do you feel like this great quote only applies in times of prosperity? That the current environment has forced a reevaluation of multiple aspects of life, a resetting of priorities and a reminder of what’s most important. However, in this time of uncertainty and economic challenges, survival instinct trumps happiness when our primary income is threatened. So, we either feel grateful to have a job even if we hate it or we’ve been forced to change through job loss and we focus on getting a job, any job.

If you can relate, please don’t let that stop you pursuing satisfying and meaningful work, “liking what you do and how you do it”. Because work that enables us to be the best version of ourselves, can provide many benefits including opportunities to learn, to build relationships, enjoyment, sense of achievement, sense of belonging and an ability to contribute to something greater just to name a few. For financial necessity, it might be that you have to take a job as a stop gap, but you can still set a goal and work on a plan to move onto something better and more fulfilling. We spend so much of our valuable time at work, that it is not too much to ask that we enjoy it more often than we don’t, as well as meeting our fundamental need for an income.

We often don’t consciously think about what it takes for us to be ready to act in order to make a change. But maybe you are aware of regularly ruminating about changing careers, or you’re tired of complaining to your partner about your job, or perhaps they are tired of hearing you complain and yet doing nothing about it. Likely, the story you are telling yourself is that now is not the time for a change.

Hope is not lost, there are a few things that can help if underneath it all, you know that you are unhappy with your career or job and you dream of making a change someday.

Needs

As humans we have basic psychological needs when it comes to being motivated to act, to perform at your best and to continue to grow. A need for competence (both capability and confidence in our ability), a personal connection to a goal and some sense of autonomy, personal control. Based on the work of Deci and Ryan (1985), when these are satisfied people are more motivated and have better mental health and when they are impeded lead to diminished motivation and wellbeing. Ask yourself the following, do you;

Feel competent (and confident) to change jobs or careers?

Have a clear goal?

Feel that you have some sense of personal control?

Understandably all of these can be challenging, but breaking each point down and exploring whether you can do one thing to help you with your confidence, to get clear on a goal and to focus even on something small that you can control.

Act

Before anyone makes a decision and takes action, they will contemplate the situation. Maybe you have not fully resolved whether it is time to move on. Or you are stuck between two options that are equally daunting, staying where you are with the status quo or making a change to the unknown. 

A pragmatic and effective way to move from contemplation to preparation to act is through small steps. Trying small safe actions to move forward. Not over thinking it, or “having the answer”, but taking one step at time and getting out of your head into action.

Looking at how able and confident you feel about making a change, you could simply start with updating your resume and capture your recent achievements. To help you clarify a possible goal for what might be next you could safely talk to your trusted networks or find a close friend or colleague who you can help you discuss possible options. Even researching the job market and setting up relevant job alerts, can help to give you some sense of control.

The pursuit for greater satisfaction from work is not for smiley face emoji happiness, but more that the ratio of the work you do, you enjoy more often than not. It is also not about a lack of difficulty, as challenge has been proven as a requirement for job satisfaction.

Want

While keen for you to move from contemplation to action, there is one critical step that you need to get clear on. You need to be able to clearly articulate your wants. People are better able to help you when you know what you want. You will also be more focused with your time and energy looking for something better, rather than more of the same. Reflect and write down what you ideally want from your work. How you want it to look, feel and fit in and enable the rest of your life. Everyone deserves to be and feel valued for the work they do and to gain satisfaction from their time spent contributing to work. Work can provide many benefits outside of the financial necessity. What do you want work to be and do for you? What would close to ideal look like? What conditions would make it excellent? What is most important in the work you want to be doing?

Whether you categorise your work as white-collar, knowledge worker, tradie or creative, as humans we all have needs that are met by our work and being clear on your needs as well as your wants can help you move to act. You can move from a passenger on a boat at the whim of the tides and wind, to steering your own path while navigating them.

Bio

Amalia is a mid-working life senior professional who is determined that the next 20 years of work and life will be different to the last. A courageous leader and an encourager of others who wants to help people create and secure meaningful work for a new future.

Succeeding and enduring more than 20 years in Human Resources in large corporates, such as PwC, IBM, GM Holden, NAB and more, taking on demanding leadership roles but always focused on business savvy, pragmatic and sustainable solutions that help people improve, change and grow.

Hired into GM Holden with the express purpose of designing and leading the support program for the closure of Manufacturing and Engineering. Together with a great team, created the most successful transition program to date with 95% of almost 3000 people participating and 93% securing gainful employment.

Having personally experienced numerous roles being made redundant and with a career spanning recruitment, career development and organisational development she has expertise from multiple perspectives. Currently, coach, speaker and consultant working nationally and internationally helping people and organisations develop and change to achieve a better future.

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