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Friday, January 29, 2010

Time to make sober decisions

Time to make sober decisions

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com

How do you feel when you reflect on yourself at your current workplace? Does your heartrate increase at the thought of hanging on at your current place of work for another 12 months, or are you at peace due to the satisfaction you derive? What are some of the fears and concerns that you harbor as the year starts and have you taken necessary measures to mitigate against the impact of such worries?

The start of the year provides us with an opportunity to make decisions that would shape our career engagements for the rest of the year. It is an opportunity for us to put to action those feelings we may have had over the last one year as we considered measures to improve on the level of satisfaction at our places of work. Throughout last year, you may have lived a lie by pretending to be comfortable and happy at your place of work even when you were deeply hurting from within. You may have persevered with the hope that by the close of the year you would have found a better opportunity to work.

In case the above scenarios represent your kind of experiences, it is never too late to make a shift for the sake of salvaging your life. There is no reason to live through a career or job that only serves to torture your mind year after year. It might just be the season for you to make the decision to move on either from your current employer or career. You will however want to share your concerns with a trusted friend who would help you evaluate the merits of your concerns, just in case you have no valid reasons to take drastic steps.

It is a fact today that many people are stuck in the wrong careers due to limited relevant opportunities in the marketplace. Do you feel like you are at the right career? Are you where you always wanted to be or do you constantly feel like a ‘work in progress’? It is at a point like this that you need to decide whether you would want to be in the wrong career throughout your life or would want to actually have a drastic career change. As many people are in jobs that are outside of their desired careers, there have been cases of others finding careers in their jobs. If all the jobs you find are in certain career paths, way outside your dream career field, you may as well want to decide whether a career shift is the better option. This would help you settle from feelings of guilt for being in the wrong career.

Alternatively, you could be in the right career but hooked up to the wrong employer. It could be that you just don’t seem to click with the employer in terms of expectations, values or remuneration. In this case, ditching your career due to challenges with one employer is never the wise thing to do. Do not hate a career because of an employer. You can always change employers and stick to your desired career. The start of the year provides you with an opportunity to make that shift as many employers would be seeking for new staff. It also serves as a good reason to interview panelists when you move at this time since many people desire new beginnings at the start of the year hence fewer suspicions.

Finally, thinking through salaries and benefits, the number one reason why many people indicate dissatisfaction at their workplaces, you would for sure want to consider your level and reason for satisfaction or otherwise at this point. Might you be feeling dissatisfied because other colleagues also indicate lack of satisfaction? What might you be pegging your lack of satisfaction on? Might it be that you are actually over paid bearing in mind the kind and quality of outputs you deliver? In thinking about the salary question, there are several factors that you need to consider among them your job description, your actual work engagements and the other benefits that accrue from your employment. These could include opportunities for personal development, medical cover and exposure to a vast team that supports creativity, a recipe for self actualisation.

As a parting shot, do not just leave your job because of your dissatisfaction with the salary. Take time to quantify the other benefits as well. In case you feel like your salary does meet your expenses (hopefully not resulting from poor personal financial management), then you could initiate a discussion with your employer for a hike. Alternatively, you could seek for extra engagements that could earn you some more cash on the side. Starting a business that requires less of your actual daily involvement could be a place to start.

Ways to Make Your Resolutions Work

5 Ways to Make Your Resolutions Work

Welcome to 2010. It must be a big relief as you remember the events of last year and hopefully look forward to this year with great expectations. The holidays are past and your leave days are now numbered if not already over. You may have started the process of drafting the now-so-common New Year resolutions and could be about to document them. In addition to losing weight, and managing time better so that you can be more present with families, you may actually resolve to improve your professional life this year. In readiness to making the resolutions regarding your career, you may want to consider the following.

1: Explore your career options: As the year 2009 dragged on, you must have formed an opinion about what you would want to do with your life. Did you find the year fulfilling what your heart has always desired to do? Might there be experiences you went through that made you feel like you were at the right or wrong place in relation to your job? Might you be feeling as though the year was a wasted opportunity for you? You may then want to explore the options that you have. It could be that you have no problem with the career but have issues with the employer. If this is the case, seeking for a change of employer could just be what you need to have a fulfilling career. In case the challenge is with the career path you took, you have ahead of you an opportunity to make things right.

2: Set realistic career goals: There is a popular saying to the effect that if you leave your house without knowing what your destination would be, you will not get lost. The reason we say someone has gotten lost is when they fail to get where they had destined to. In terms of our career growth, many people’s journeys fail to take off because they never plan and document what they want with their lives. In setting goals for your career, consider engaging other persons other than yourself so as to ensure you make realistic goals. Making realistic goals implies considering various factors in terms of feasibility and timelines. Consider your current strengths, weaknesses, challenges and threats in informing your best options.

Making realistic expectations will help you avoid suffering from guilt when you find challenges meeting the resolutions. How many times have you made resolutions that could not be met? In all these cases, the expiry of the set dates leave a trail of guilt in many people’s hearts hence the need to take care of this from the onset. Think of the steps that are required to get to your goal and put them down on paper. Remember that becoming the Chief Director of an organization does not come over night. Be realistic.

3: Start immediate preparations: As you recuperate from the hangover of the holidays, this might be the best time to start off the process of preparing for your career growth. What are you waiting for? I have heard of people who waited to start to implement their career resolutions through the months and only attempted to start when the year was ending. Take the holiday season as a period to engage with strategic partners in setting your foot on a level ground to start off the process of growth.

4: Improve on your work relationships: One of the reasons why we either fall or rise in our careers relates to our relations with people. We need to check on how we relate with others and mend fences where need be. There are times we have imagined that other people need to change to conform to our expectations yet we have done little to conform and accommodate others. It might be the greatest season when your heart is still softened by the festivities to consider change of approaches in managing and interacting with people.

5: Follow on your actions: Finally, making great plans and not following them through is one of the greatest messes of our generation. A dormant plan is as good as no plan at all. Remember that a good plan has timelines and means of measurement. How do you tell for instance that you have improved on your relations with people? You need an instrument to help you realize when you reach your goal otherwise you would reach your destination and keep on moving. Now, that is not favorable either.