Older generations push to maintain this status quo of a stable job and life, seeing happiness and fulfillment as something to be gained only in our social lives.
It might have been the case for previous generations, but we’re starting to see people bucking this trend – particularly the new generation of socially aware, connected millennials. A career used to be a ladder to climb, the definition of your adult life. Now, people treat work more like a gym – there’s no need to keep running on the treadmill if you feel would be happier and more satisfied building muscles on another machine. There’s no obligation to carry on working out on something you hate and, in fact, diversifying makes you better all round.
It’s expected that current school leavers will experience seven careers in their working lives, being motivated by finding a job they find socially and mentally fulfilling over financial gain. There are many reasons for this change, perhaps schools are not equipping students with the right skills to visualise a suitable career. Perhaps social media is engraining the importance of peoples’ self-image – it’s definitely better to present a meaningful career here than one that simply pays your bills. It’s also perhaps a broader social change, our personal lives are less rigid, less people are able to buy houses so there are more opportunities to take risks with your career and move if you want or need to.
Of course, there are still those who work hard to forge a lifelong career – certainly true for those who really want to rise to the very top and, hopefully, earn a lot of money while they’re doing it. I often see graduates who have dedicated their university time to building a perfect CV, then leave and throw themselves straight into an all consuming work schedule. Particularly in London, where those who want to make an impression are compelled to start work as early as possible and attend every out of hours networking and training event available.
These two distinct groups have a lot to learn from one another; a good job takes hard work and dedication, but shouldn’t mean you have no time for the other things you find fulfilling. Knowing yourself and what you stand for may be more commonly associated with experienced workers, but I also think it would be beneficial for those who have just begun their journey. If you start your adult life conscious and aware of not only the impact you want to make on the world but also of the impact your work has on you mentally and physically, you will perform smarter and more effectively. Harnessing these skills, taking the time to enjoy life (work included), makes you a better employee and more likely to succeed in a healthy way.
We all understand the use of a fitness coach to deliver better results for our workouts but we’re less likely to seek help from a coach for our careers. I’ve worked with hundreds of companies, helping them to grow and empowering their team members individually. The power of effective coaching and mindfulness techniques simply cannot be underestimated. An Olympian wouldn’t be able to perform to their full abilities without a coach, so a worker can’t be expected to get everything right without some proper guidance either.
It’s time that businesses looked at their employees and the ones they’ve yet to hire. This new generation needs something more, a way to engage with their work that satisfies them mentally, socially and physically – with adequate financial rewards. Coaches and mindfulness aren’t just useful for the top level, they might be crucial for enabling this new workforce to reach their potential. We must help people to discover themselves right from the outset of their working lives, not when they hit a ‘mid-life crisis’.
To all those just embarking on your work journey, I’d encourage you to break the rules and not be afraid to try different things. Build a broad range of skills and enjoy what you’re doing – be the first generation to not treat work like a chore and change things for the better.
Stuart Ross, business coach and founder of www.highgrowth.com.