Taking charge of your Career Life

Reproduced from adageblog – February 14, 2013

We all know that age discrimination is alive and kicking and against the law but don’t let that stop you. As Bear Grylls says “improvise, adapt, overcome, it’s the key to survival”. I meet a lot of over 50 year olds that look and feel defeated in their quest to find a job. They have been loyal, trusting and had their expectations of stability thrown out the window. This has not just happened for the over 50 year olds but is presently happening across the entire workforce. We are all living in times of constant uncertainty and of constant change.

Over the past 50 years, we as workers have grown accustomed to careers moving in a smooth linear pathway. We go to school, we get a job, we work our way up the organisational ladder, we retire and then we die. So what’s changed? One word, Globalisation. In Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty First Century”, Friedman sees Globalisation as key to flattening our world and levelling the playing field to all those who operate in it whether you’re a supplier, consumer or worker. He identifies 10 flatteners some of which include: access to work flow software where everybody now has a PC and information can be accessed readily, China joining the World Trade Organisation in 2001 providing low cost manufacturing and the rise of digital and mobile technologies to name a few. Fundamentally, what has changed is how we all connect and communicate. The world has opened up through the wide world web and in the last 5 years we have seen the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Linked In which has thrown us into a hyper connected world.

So where does this leave you? It leaves you with a lot of options. Sometimes when we look at the problem of finding work, we bring years of fixed thoughts, behaviours and beliefs that haven’t adjusted to the changes in environment around us. Why do we do this? We do it because we haven’t been educated about the changes and what strategies we need to implement so that we thrive alongside the changes. Here are some strategies to help you get started:
1. Empower yourself with Self Knowledge. Many over 50 years of age have skills and work experience but many know little about themselves. Some examples of questions include: do I get my energy from being around people or would I rather be by myself, do I like to plan and control or do I prefer to be spontaneous, does my head rule my decisions or do I follow my feelings. Having detailed Self Knowledge makes you confident with what you have to offer the current workplace. You can be ready to identify any opportunities where your particular values and personality will thrive. It gives you clarity about what you really want in the next phase of your life and helps you identify the work environments where you are best suited.
2. Perform a stocktake on your present situation. Ask yourself where have I been, what do I want now and what do you dream of doing in five years’ time. Are there any business opportunities I can take advantage of? Maybe start your own business or approach specific employers with an employment proposition.
3. Ask yourself what skills you need and whether you need to engage in further learning.
4. Take a moment of self-reflection to ask yourself, do I have a winning attitude or am I still hanging onto negative feelings that are getting in the way of me moving forward with change.
5. Arm yourself with people who are positive and supportive. Everybody needs help and support when they undergo change and transition regardless of your age. Do you know of any athletes or business owners who have done things by themselves without the support of people around them? Remember it always takes two hands to clap!
6. Research your ideas in the current work environment. Use the power of the internet and your networks to reality test against the needs of employers or the needs of your local community.
7. When you feel down, purposefully move your thinking to your past successes. Identify the steps you took to overcome the obstacles in the past. Remember and relive those feelings of success.
Taking control of your own career life is possible. Change can be both exciting and daunting but more importantly it throws us into a bigger pond where we can stretch our arms and swim further. Hug it, kiss it and most of all embrace it. The key is to be proactive and not reactive to change. Take the initiative and you will never feel like a victim of change but rather see yourself as having the opportunity to lead change.

Written by Gina Bell- Director of http://www.extraordinaryyou.com.au specialising in career advice and career counselling for adults seeking a Career Change.

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