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Design your own destiny

By Karla Dondio

Don't just accept defaults - find what makes you tick at work and beyond, writes Karla Dondio.

With doom and gloom pervading the economic landscape, those desiring a career change would be forgiven for clamping the shutters and hunkering down until the forecast improves. But with a career in lockdown, one has to wonder what opportunities are being missed.

Mary Grech from Careers by Design says that even though roles are becoming redundant, there's still plenty of opportunity out there.

One of the greatest opportunities a career change affords is to explore a deeper imperative: what makes you tick?

"Any time is a good time to rethink your career," Grech says. "It's a time to seek information to better understand yourself, your values and personality, which can sustain you in a role or career you're not currently enjoying."

Grech has been managing and operating Careers by Design for nine years. The business name derives from a revelation that people often have a career by default rather than a career they've designed for themselves. Grech's focus as a careers counsellor is to provide holistic-style guidance.

"More broadly, the definition of career is work, life and learning," Grech says. "It's important, in particular if you're unhappy in what you're currently doing, to explore: what makes me happy in my work, life and learning?"

Grech uses several "inventories and activities" to uncover themes prevalent in a client's self-assessment process. Understanding themes that feature in a client's process is paramount for Grech as these underpin that person's values and imperatives that are currently not being met. Grech encourages clients to consider how their themes might be incorporated into their career choices as well as their broader life to enhance satisfaction and pleasure across the board.

Grech points out that every client has different needs. The process generally evolves to goal setting to achieve outcomes. While some clients will require coaching to make their current role more enjoyable as they make the transition, some may need to map out an exit strategy if their workplace is toxic. But a career change is not always the solution.

Grech cites the case of a client who was unhappy in his managerial role. Through the self-assessment process, she noted that music was an overarching theme and, yet, one her client had failed to mention.

In their second session, Grech raised the subject of music and her client revealed that he used to play in a band that performed regularly. Throughout the conversation her client became quite animated, so Grech suggested he think about bringing music back into his life.

"In his next session he reported that he'd got the band back together and said that his next day at work was so exciting because he was motivated by what he was doing outside of work," Grech says.

"He had been focusing on work being the whole of his fulfilment and once he changed one aspect, his work took a back seat. This invigorated his life; he was very happy with the outcome."

Grech offers her clients an innovative approach to their career with a view to what she calls a "portfolio of careers", which encompasses paid work, hobbies and volunteer work. Grech says this approach provides clients with a strong desire to work in an area where employment is scarce the opportunity to enrich their life by weaving their passion into their career trajectory in another form.

"I say: if you're a writer, get a pen and write. Introduce that into your life and you'll probably be quite surprised how that affects your life."


Published: 24 November 2012

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