Making a decision on a career is a big deal. It is about so much more than deciding what to do to make a living. When you think about the amount of time you will spend at work, it will become clear why this decision is such a big deal. Expect to be on the job approximately 71% of every year. Over your lifetime, this comes out to roughly 31 1/2 years out of the average of 45 years you will probably spend working, from the beginning of your career until retirement. (Balance Careers, 2019)
It is important to note that the career planning process never ends. At various points in your career, you may seek additional training or designations that can help you continue to pursue your goals. In some cases your career may take new turns or you may choose to redefine yourself and your goals. Whatever phase you may be at in your career journey, taking the time to plan will help to keep you focused and on a goal-oriented path. (Balance Careers, 2019)
When you consider the world of work, whether you look at the top leadership or the first level team member, you will identify two clear paths in their career journey. One group is working for tangible value such as amazing remuneration or intangible value such as experience or recommendation; while the second group delivers on their professional passion and call it work.
This becomes a key reflection on their output, productivity, relationships and above all growth. Whilst this approach to work has its disadvantages such as attrition, and stunted productivity, when well managed it also creates room for innovation, creativity, career progression, succession, entrepreneurial mindset and much more even at the highest levels.
So, how have individuals who have succeeded in the corporate world done it? How exactly are leaders made? What is the psychology of individuals who choose the corporate path, entrepreneurial path or make a transition from one to another?
From our childhood, many of us have often been asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of us came up with and gave answers almost immediately, whether or not we really wanted to be those things, whilst others simply do not know. The bottom line is, all of us struggle with making one of the most important decisions of our lives; determining the desired career for our lives. Career choice is often dictated by different stages in the thought about vocation that span across age and development: the fantasy period, tentative period, and realistic period (Berk, 2014). In early childhood we become aware of the concept of an occupation, and are typically drawn to those that we find to illustrate excitement, prestige, and the overarching implication that the chosen profession is, at its core, a desirable fit (Berk, 2014).
Our understanding of professions gradually develops into a more comprehensible perspective, where we evaluate desired professions based on our interests, values, abilities, and based on the requirements and responsibilities of given professions (Berk, 2014). Eventually we accept the practical realities of the world – realizing the personal, economic, academic, and even geographic contingencies that relate to a particular profession – and we tend to evaluate our career choice based on more specific criteria, such as our education, job placement, and the more narrowed category of jobs with which we could be qualified, competent, and interested in performing (Berk, 2014). We understand how our choices are narrowed by our reality, but what influences these choices? There are a variety of influences, from external pressures and influences, right to individual personality, but there are also numerous factors like socioeconomic status and availability that influence career choice.
The Holland Theory looks at how people tend to seek out jobs that generally mesh with their attributes. Additionally, you could make the argument that being in such a field could influence one’s behaviour and further develop those traits in an individual. In this way, a particular vocation that has specific behaviours associated with it may encourage those behaviours, and thus the development of that individual, and further the development of specific personality traits in people after they have engaged in that career.
It is often assumed that people have the freedom to select any occupation of their choosing with no limitations, and Furnham (2001) suggests that, in alignment with Holland’s theory, personality plays a key role in that choosing. However, it is important to address the constraints that exist in career choice, as an individual may have ideological but not practical freedom of choice in terms of career due to factors like social class, education, and local economics (Furnham, 2001). Often times people want to drift into jobs and find themselves in a particular career or operating in an industry that was also not spawned from free choice, but from chance or available opportunity (Furnham, 2001).
Finally, Frank Parson’s Trait & Factor Vocational Theory (1920) consists 3 parts which he believed were necessary for professionals to make career choices. Firstly, before seeking a job, you must have a clear understanding of your traits as a person. What are your highlights and lowlights? Secondly, what do you know about the industries you are interested in? Last but not the least, having an objective judgment of the connection between what your individual traits are and what the labor market is looking for. In simple words, be clear and honest internally about who you are and what you are qualified to do in the said industry.
In my experience as a coach working with both entrepreneurs and corporate executives, I have come to realize that periodic indecisions are a must for transformation. So, whether you are in your first years of adventure in your work life or in the consolidation stages there will be processes you have to take yourself through.
Self-awareness is a key leadership trait that is foundational in determining our path to be truly fulfilled and understand ourselves. Self-awareness is important for career development and growth. Self-awareness, conceptualized as both a personality trait and a skill, has been argued to be critical in regulating individual performance and achieving managerial excellence. A thorough awareness of one’s interests, values, talents, and lifestyle preferences enables individuals to set appropriate career goals, develop appropriate career strategies, and regulate their behaviour successfully. Who are you? Where do you want to be? What do you need to get there? What do you stand for? Meaningful work can therefore be found at the intersection of where you use your various unique strengths in a purpose that you believe in. Challenge consulting suggests that you review your list of accomplishments and use it to identify your strengths.
After you have surpassed the self-awareness phase you must now generate the energy to always be one step ahead. Even at points where you do not see the need to act, even if you do not see what is ahead, you must be intentional and act like someone who is in a higher position than you already are, as confidently as possible, without neglecting your current duties. In finding fulfillment, you will find a process that makes you evolve into an executor not an initiator. “I believe that 90% of employees are executors, but it is the other 10% who initiate, who do things that they are not asked to do, who move up the ladder the quickest,” Teach says. What are others not doing? Always be prepared to do what others are reluctant to do. As you stand up to do these things, you will become outstanding.
We begin to find ourselves becoming obsessed with or provoked by particular areas of interest. Whether we are just starting, are in the middle of or are at the top of the ladder, we must start exploring those interests. We must then narrow the interests down to between two to four. Then pick each one for study. We will begin to identify a single one that peaks our interest and then follow through with that.
This is the stage of make or break. It is the stage where we have to make the sacrifice to go after our desired path. We have to decide whether to stay with the corporate career space and deliver intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial value with unparalleled effort and alignment or whether to veer off into new worlds of travel and entrepreneurial adventure. Action enables you to live your decision; to be accountable and responsible and give your all.
We must remember that, whichever path we choose at whatever stage in life must lead to us fulfilling our professional passion we call work. It is always recommended that you seek coaching guidance to enable you gain clarity of purpose along the way. Some people identify it early, others, along the way and for many others, much later in life. Ultimately the true excitement of the journey is not in the years spent but, in the purpose achieved and fulfilled.
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Soft Skills Expert, Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.