No one else is going to tell you what to do

I am speaking to more and more people who are disillusioned with their work. Often what is in the balance is a purpose-led career versus job security and status. These conversations have led me to revisit the Happy Grid post I wrote in 2016. It is when I realised that no-one else is going to tell you what to do with you career.

The Happy Grid is a way to prioritise your to-do list according to your goals and what you enjoy doing. This may seem hedonistic, but in the words of Oliver Burkeman,

More often than not, by doing your thing – as opposed to what you think you ought to be doing – you kindle a fire that helps keep the rest of us warm.

Burkeman. (2020). Oliver Burkeman’s last column: the eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life. The Guardian.

What I wrote back then on that Happy Grid post still resonates today: organisations are really good at finding the best person for the job but not necessarily the best job for the person. It is often in an organisation’s interest to keep you doing a job that suits them and they can persuade you to do it with guarantees of money, status and security.

This is why no one else is going to tell you what to do with your career. This comes down to you. Take away the trappings and consider whether what you are being asked to do aligns with what makes the most of your skills, passions and interests. If they don’t then you know you need to make a change. Change doesn’t have to mean leaving your current organisation if you can find greater alignment within – and if you are clear on your priorities, you may be able to help your employer find something for you with better fit.

But if you can’t then you should consider plotting your pathway out. I believe world is richer when people find the thing they can do which brings joy to them and service to everyone else.

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