Sunday, 28 November 2010

Career Climbdown

Another post inspired by something I (was asked to) read in that decent women's weekly glossy that is Grazia. I've no idea if you can read the article on-line. I haven't looked. In case you can be asked the title in the print edition is "Help! I'm having ambition comedown!"

As it would in a women's glossy, it talks exclusively of young women realising that climbing the greasy pole is no longer as attractive an option as they thought. Apparently, they are now looking for alternatives, and in droves.

Grazia having to make some money in the process seems to have opted for a relatively one-sided view of the phenomenon. Namely, they are not really describing women who are giving up on the greasy pole, but women who have got bored of one particular kind, and are now jumping over to the side to a different one. The money making comes from mentioning a couple life coaching companies, by name and website. I initially thought I'd do the same (I'm not allergic to money either), but after looking at their websites I realised one is poorly styled basic operation I wouldn't trust with my pet teddy's career, or life, and the other is a management bull-speak kind of leech company which you may want to hire for your underlings if you are a high flying manager who did not yet realise the pole is greasy...

Now, I have nothing but praise for people discovering "the right thing"™ to do at any point in their lives, giving up everything else, and pursuing their newly found raison d’ĂȘtre. Quite to the contrary. We most certainly need more happy people, than high flying management gurus. What I do disagree with when magazines like Grazia are pushing for it is the tacit suggestion that, while it's OK to turn your good ship around, it is not a desirable, or even viable, option to moor it in the waters you found comfortable and pleasing, the waters which, apart from the day-to-day job of maintaining your good ship (which is your career) may offer some nice diversions which otherwise may not be within such an easy reach. Yes, I am talking here at just applying the breaks - not just taking that junction and joining another fast lane. After all, the Peter Principle is not still considered broadly valid for nothing.

Finally, I must say that I have been advertising both options above to all who would listen for quite a long time now. More importantly, I think I have been taking my own medicine as well. I will not, however, claim that I have been wise from the crib. I have, too, let myself steer my career in the general direction of the top of the greasy pole. In the process some of the things I liked doing the best have, sort of, fallen by the wayside. Yes, I'm still in the general vicinity of them, but no longer on the coal face where I liked to be the most a decade ago.

Oh, I am still enjoying what I do. It's just that the distancing from the coal face, once I realised it happened, made me start to re-evaluate my career, where it's got to, and where it's going. And in this re-evaluation I have come to all of the conclusions of the Grazia article - and then some. I think I have now squarely put myself in the "having moored their good ship" group of people, and I can tell you the waters and the nearby shore are chock full of nice things to do, see, and experience.

Lastly (and unlike "finally" from a couple of paragraphs above this time I mean it), for those who may have an objection to an eternally static mooring, I have to say that it need not be so. It is perfectly possible - even desirable - to up anchor every now and then and choose a different mooring. The general business of running your good ship "Career" may not change much in the process, but the scenery will be new, and you'll get a whole new crew to make it all worthwhile. The plus is often that this new mooring can be quite close to the previous one, thus offering much the same extra-curricular diversions.

So, good people, by all means do evaluate where your own shipping lane is taking you, and change the lane, and its direction as you see fit. Just don't forget that there is one other option, and that is parking in a port for a while, or just dropping anchor by some eye-poppingly beautiful tropical island. Yes, I am urging you to consider just going fishing every now and then. And, if you like it very much you may even consider making it your new career.