I recently sat down with my mum who, aged 54, left her career as a Family Liaison Officer provision to start a new job as a custody officer. She spoke about the importance of feeling fulfilled in your career, as well as the advice she would give to students feeling anxious about their futures.
In one word describe your attitude towards your old job and a word to describe how you feel about entering the new one.
“It’s hard to give a word for the old job but because of the broken system I am going to say overwhelming. And the new job, now I’ve done my training, is enlivened”
Do you think it is important to feel fulfilled at work?
“In a word – Yes. We spend most of our lifetimes working. A lot of the time we spend more time with work colleagues than our own families. You must enjoy what you do and like most of the people around you.”
What made you start to second guess your old job? Was there a final straw?
“I loved my old job and was good at it but I should have made changes five years in. By that point I had realised that the job I was doing was impossible to achieve because the system I worked under was broken. I am proud of the children I helped but the struggle to do so was immense and I couldn’t help enough to get the outcomes I would have wanted. The final straw I guess was feeling I had nothing left to give, which, actually, is a blessing and a turning point.”
For university students who feel stuck on the wrong path, feel they may be on the wrong course or in the wrong city, what advice would you give them?
Ask yourself a series of questions. In terms of the city – are there better or worse places I could be? Definitely. Will I always be somewhere I like? No. Is this forever? No. Is there a purpose to me being here at this moment of my life? For university students, yes there is. Sometimes it’s important to feel discomfort, it helps you grow and informs your future decisions…
(With regards to) the course – only a handful of people at the age of 18 have a clear life path mapped out – and even if they do, it doesn’t always go to plan. For most students it really is a stab in the dark and uni is (about) so much more than the course you do. Sure, you want the degree, but you want more – experiences, friendships, independence, making decisions, successes and failures. All these are helping you with the next stage of your lives. Life is made up of many paths and we don’t always know where we are going and that’s scary but it’s a feeling, we carry throughout most of our lives. You don’t even realise until years down the road that you took a certain path or turned off another one. But in the end, you can look back and see how those choices formed your life.”
You said it is important to feel fulfilled at work but then say there is so much more to university than the course you are on. Why is your attitude towards this different?
Uni is a growing path. You’re technically just through childhood with no work life as such and should therefore be treated as a separate entity to your work life in my opinion.
When you reach your 50s, your working life definitely has an end in sight. Do think this causes complacency within people who are unhappy but decide to ‘stick at it’ for that final decade?
“In my case, it’s been the opposite. I thought – ‘I have 10 years of work life left.’ Do I stay in my comfortable state but not feel fulfilled? Or do I make a change now and hope that I can spend my last 10 years excited by something new? Meeting people I have never met, needing help, learning new things. Am I the norm? Probably not – a lot of people probably go for comfort, but I am living proof that anyone can make changes to their lives at any time and in any way.”
“File:Pushing The Buttons Of Career Change Cartoon.svg” by Clip Art by Vector Toons is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.