helpgrowchange

What is ‘career-limiting’ anyway?

What does it mean to 'limit one's career'? Why are there preconceived ideas about what we 'should' be doing to progress our careers? Where is this unspoken ladder we talk about, and where can I break it?

Between 2010 and 2016 my career was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I went from database administrator to team leader to service manager to team leader of another 2 teams, then Service Delivery Manager, back to team leader, and finally to middleware administrator.

Phew.

After about 6 months in each role, I started getting itchy feet again and searched for the next challenge. I gained a reputation among my colleagues on when I'd be moving next. It's funny, but not funny at the same time.

My latest role of Middleware Administrator is a technical role again. It's been 9 months now and I still enjoy working on anything I can get my hands on. I've found true joy in my job (which is rare for many people) and I don't foresee any role-hopping in the near future.

What people think

In the eyes of many people I've spoken to, though, they see this as a 'demotion' of some sort and a step backwards in my career. "Why would you go back to technical?" is a common question I get from them.

To add some context, in I.T. a technical role is lowest on the corporate food chain.

I can feel their confusion (and sometimes disdain) about why I went back to technical. I can feel them thinking he's taken a step back in his career or he's taken the easy road.

Career or happiness

Does it really matter how successful someone is? Does it really matter how high up in the corporate ladder we are? Does it really matter how much money is in our paycheck?

I don't believe it does matter. And, deep down, neither do you.

We talk about this all the time. We complain about our unhappiness in our job. We describe how we're under strain due to the extra pressures of managing a team or client. We live for the weekend, dreaming Friday can't come soon enough.

Why?!

Why do we put ourselves through this day in and day out – because we were told it's what we should do? It's completely ludicrous.

What do you want to do?

The big question is: Would you rather be the head honcho, or be happy in your role?

I'm certainly not telling you to 'follow your heart and fly with the birds'. That's just as bad. For me, I still work Monday to Friday – the difference is I want to and I'm happy.

We spend 80% of our lives working in a job. We may as well make it count, right?

Follow your own advice

Every 2nd post I see on Facebook or Twitter is about self-advice. Articles and headlines such as "5 things for a better 2017", "Be kind", "13 things to stop doing to achieve greatness" clutter my newsfeed.

At first, I think Wow, so many people are bettering themselves. And then 2 minutes later they're posting crap again, or carrying on with their lives while not changing a thing.

How is your life going to get any better if you don't change anything?

"Nothing changes if nothing changes."

(Best. Quote. Ever.)

What seems to happen is people read these fanciful quotes and smile at some or other inspirational picture, have a brief thought about "yeah that's nice", and then they do nothing.

Nothing at all.

The next day they're complaining about some crap in their lives that they wouldn't be complaining about if they followed their own advice – the advice they shared on social media just yesterday.

Stand by what you say and put it out to the world.

Take control of your life.

Decide to make the change and own it till it's done.
(Or at least own up when you change tact again, but that’s a whole other post.)

My family’s health and cherishing every moment

My friend has Hydrocephalus. I cannot begin to understand how hard it must be to live with something like that or any other debilitating condition.

I know of someone else who’s child suffered leukaemia, another person who’s wife is suffering cancer, and I’ve also worked with people who have keeled over with a heart attack or were killed in a tragic motorcycle accident.

These events and conditions of people that I am close to (and converse with on a daily basis) bring me to think about my own life and the health of my little family – and just how lucky and sheltered we are.

There is just no time to waste in our lives.

Every moment should be cherished.

But it’s not that easy, is it? Life gets in the way. Children whine, and bad customer service ruins our days.

It’s simply impossible to breathe in the moment all day, every day. I feel it, and I’m sure you do too. Everywhere on the Internet nowadays, we are being bombarded about mindfulness and embracing the Present. I struggle to do this all day.

What I have found, though, is if I consciously take a couple of minutes first thing in the morning and when lying in bed before I go to sleep, I find myself growing to appreciate a whole lot more in my life.

Make a conscious effort twice a day

In the morning I really concentrate on my first sip of water. I feel it across my tongue and travel down to my stomach. How the cold spreads across my chest. I truly try to appreciate that I am able to afford this drink and am able-bodied enough to lift it to my mouth.

I take just another moment to really feel grateful that all I needed to do was turn the tap and water filled my glass. I didn’t have to fight for it or walk 3kms or even boil it first.

Try it for a week. You might surprise yourself.

Then, just before sleeping, I tend to rewind my day through my head and highlight about 3 things I’m grateful for that happened. They are not always ‘big’ things.

Remember, it’s the small things that can be the most important.

For example, I might be grateful that we could afford a healthy dinner (and that my wife loves cooking healthy dinners ), or that I got a window seat on the train to the office, or that my house is still standing after the earthquake we had today.

What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to follow these articles plastered all over the Internet saying you have to do it all the damn time. Just take a little of your time each day to acknowledge just how lucky you are.

My Sunshine Award nomination

No matter what anybody says, we all love a little recognition. We all appreciate a little acknowledgement for the effort we put in. Something to show that what we’re doing is being heard.

This is what happened recently when Titia from w{e}mbrace nominated me for a Sunshine award. Thank you, Titia. Thank you for taking the time to remember my blog. It makes me glad my message is getting through to at least one person.

The Sunshine award is an award bloggers pass on to other bloggers to encourage them to carry on with the great work they are doing.

The rules:
According to the rules, a nominee should:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate other bloggers for the Sunshine Award.
  • Write the same number of questions for the bloggers you nominated as you received with your nomination.
  • Notify the bloggers you have nominated.

Titia’s questions with my answers:

Why did you start blogging?
I wanted to make a positive impact on the world around me. My blog allowed me a place to take the words out of my head and put them somewhere. As I published more, I discovered people were actually reading my stuff, and it was changing their lives. That’s why I continue to blog.

If you could give other bloggers one tip what would it be?
Be yourself. Don’t try too hard to fit in with what the masses are writing or doing. There are other people out there like you. They will read your articles, they just need to find you first (which comes down to content marketing).

Bonus tip: have an effective content marketing plan if you want to be found. And no, I don’t have one…yet. 🙂

If you had unlimited funds what would you do with your time?
Tough question. I certainly wouldn’t be sitting on my ass. With unlimited funds, I think I would find ways to make environmental sustainability attainable and affordable in my community/town/country.

What are you most grateful for?
My loving wife who has supported me since we met. My 2 healthy young boys. A roof over my head at night. Everything else is a bonus.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?
Our world will never be perfect, no matter what we change. But I think money has a lot to do with the state we’re in at the moment. So, I’d get rid of money. No more rich/poor. No more societal status. No more corporate greed. Eventually (hopefully?) it will be a world of bartering and re-use, rather than a money-making machine.

What’s one of the top things on your bucket list?
To fly. Whether it be a glider, or hand glider, I want to be soaring through the air with no machine noise.

My questions to my nominees

  1. What inspires you to be the person you see in the mirror?
  2. What phrase or quote do you tell yourself when you’re in need of a self-peptalk?
  3. What are you most grateful for?
  4. What is your favourite post on your blog, and why? (Be sure to include a link)
  5. What awesome lifehack have you discovered recently that has made you more productive?
  6. If you could gain any superpower you wish, which would it be and why?

My nominated blogs

Mind Fuel (http://mindfuelstuff.wordpress.com)
Paul Jarvis (http://pjrvs.com)
Skye Water (http://skyewater33.wordpress.com)
Winnie Lim (http://winnielim.org/)

Life is passing you by, and you don’t even see it

As you sip your cup of tea this morning, while you get ready for another monotonous day, have a think about this; Your life is passing you by, and you don't even see it.

"What?!" You might say. Bear with me for the length of this article, and see if you have the same reaction when you reach the end.

How does your day look today?

During the work week, it might look something like;

  1. Wake up, get ready for work. Be groggy. Mope around the house while dreading the day ahead.
  2. Commute to work. At the same time every day, following the same (or similar) path.
  3. Perform said work. Deal with the same political crap each day. The same feeling of being overloaded and underpaid. Dream about how you would rather be home.
  4. Commute home. At the same time every day, following the same (or similar) path.
  5. Perform the same nightly chores. Make dinner, bath the kids. Watch mindless T.V., read a book. Ask yourself whether it's the weekend yet.
  6. Go to bed.

What about the weekend?

  1. Wake up.
  2. Feel too lazy to do anything productive, so go shopping instead.
  3. Feel guilty, do house chores anyway.
  4. Do an activity you enjoy like biking, hiking, sewing.
  5. Visit friends, watch a movie.
  6. Go to bed.

For some of you, that might seem ok. It's about taking life one day at a time, right? Doing what needs to be done, rather than what you want to do. It's the right thing to do…

I say bollocks to that!

Why? Why do we allow ourselves to be restricted like this. We are naturally curious beings. We love to create, to learn, to understand the world around us. Yet we have been trained and guided into submission.

You are living your life with a false sense of achievement. Take a few seconds and think back over the last 6 month to a year. Ask yourself what have you achieved?

Maybe you finished reading a book? Watched a season of Game of Thrones? Achieved level 100 in the game you're playing? What have you actually achieved? Ultimately, not much.

A whole year has gone by, and you're still in the same place you were before. Doing the same thing, with the same concerns, fears, and worries.

I used to be like this – I still am. I get lulled into a false sense of achievement when I have a slight change in schedule, performed an extra house task, or even wanting to buy a newer phone.

These are not achievements.

They still sit within your comfort zone. And before you know it, months have passed – years have passed. How often do you hear people say that the years are flying by? It is because we are stuck in a monotonous rut.

What happened to your dreams of the future? How have you tested and pushed yourself? Have you taken action on them? Or come up with excuses.

I performed this little exercise on myself. 2 years ago, it would have looked rather mediocre, with the only real difference being me starting this blog and doing some freelance writing.

In the last year, though, my life has changed. My family's life has changed. Our eyes have been opened to the possibility that we can break this mould we're in.

To give you some context, I've run 2 10km races, I've studied social psychology, Neuro-linguistic programming techniques, and social media marketing, I've changed my eating habits to cut out sugar (mostly), and spent more time with my boys than ever before. My wife and I are starting businesses (which is extremely new to us).

Although these are only small changes, I've had to push myself mentally and physically. It's surprising to see how far we can go when we step out of our comfort zone.

What is really interesting, though, is by experiencing all these new factors in my life, this past year has felt longer. I've enjoyed each day a lot more. I am paying more attention to what's in front of me, rather than waiting for a T.V. show tonight or the lazy weekend.

I urge you to change something in your schedule today. It could be the spark to break you out of the monotony you've been feeling for a while.

You are more than the chores you need to do, or the work you need to attend to. Take the plunge and do something you're not entirely comfortable with. You won't regret it.

Ask yourself these 3 questions before stepping into the unknown

Stepping into the unknown is extremely daunting. Every one of us, at some point in time, has hesitated when crossing the threshold into some unknown. It’s only natural for us to feel this way. What matters is how we react in these situations, and how we convince ourselves to continue moving forward.

This very blog was a daunting unknown for me. Before I started, I was deliberating whether I should even start it. I was afraid of being ridiculed. I wasn’t convinced anyone would want to know what I thought. My wife is working meticulously in building her business, yet just a few months ago she was also debating the merits of starting it – afraid of the complaints she might get, the quality of her goods, or even no buyers at all.

It constantly amazes me how we build these false illusions in our heads. Illusions which serve as barriers, obstructing us from taking risks (which aren’t really risks in the first place). It’s probably due to some ‘keep safe’ mechanism in our brains. We perceive a certain situation as ‘risky’ (such as starting a business or blog), and so our minds build these internal barriers in order for us to stay protected. We have to convince ourselves that it is ok, and the danger is not as apparent as it appears to be.

While trying to convince myself about starting a blog years ago, and discussing with my wife about starting her business, we asked a few questions of ourselves which considerably helped in giving us courage to cross the line.

We took our first steps into the unknown. And the rest, they say, is history.

The heart says one thing, the mind says another.

There are many conversations we have with ourselves when we’re determining the merits of taking risks. Different sides of our inner self want different things, and it’s quite funny how there can be such differing of opinions with oneself.

To battle through this and gain some sort of clarity, I’ve found these 3 questions will guide you forward (I’ve put in some handy answers too).

Question: What have you got to lose?
Answer: Almost always there is nothing to lose except a bit time and money

Question: In 6 months time, what would you be doing if you didn’t take this step now?
Answer: Probably the same thing you’re busy with now – no better than before. The time would be summed up as ‘All talk and no action’.

Question: Could this open other opportunities?
Answer: Almost always this is a resounding yes. Unless, of course, it’s a complete deadend. Even then, you’ve learnt from the experience and only lost a bit of time and money.

Move forward, no matter how slow.

Regardless of how small a step you might be taking – it is a movement in a forward direction. You are not where you were before. This is a powerful place to be.

What are you currently afraid to step into? Is it to publish your book, start a blog, learn a new skill? Ask yourself the questions above, contemplate some more ideas, and let’s see how you get on.

All articles