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How to have a life-changing career

Mar 9, 2022 | Insights

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For a life-changing career, follow your passion not the money, decide what it means to be and have enough and, above all, make a difference.
Last week I was asked, at short notice, to talk careers to penultimate year students at our local College. Next summer, these young men and women will leave school and head to gap years, universities or their first jobs – an anxious time for many.

Most career talks are given by younger speakers who have just started out or experts in a particular field. I, however, am in sight of the end of a haphazard, unplanned career and found myself wondering how I could inspire these students.

My challenge last week was to turn my CV into a captivating story and extract valuable lessons to pass on to the younger generation.

Make a difference, live meaningfully

Unprepared, I found myself talking straight from the heart. I recounted how, after twenty-five long and unfulfilled years, I began to live meaningfully by working to make a difference rather than to make money, by contributing rather than consuming. My career became life-changing at fifty when I concentrated on making a difference to others and not myself.

I found myself extracting other essential lessons from my career, one of which was to accept you make mistakes and deal with them. I told my audience that my biggest mistake was not dealing with my mistakes.

I explained how, when I eventually did decide to deal with my mistakes, it was by finding and talking to non-judgemental people willing to listen. I was not seeking sympathy but simply sought some perspective.

Conversation and reflection change lives

When I did talk, it was again life-changing. I recalled how my confidant broke down in tears the first time I did this. Then, a little surprised at this reaction, she told me she had never felt so honoured to have been chosen to help me deal with my mistakes.

Conversation changes lives, I told my audience. However, you can also, of course, talk to yourself. It’s called reflection, and conversation and reflection are both powerful aids to dealing with our shameful mistakes.

I suggested, in summary, they decide what enough means to them, follow their passion and not the money, and face and deal with the inevitable mistakes they will make.

Above all, I told my audience if they set out to make a difference, they will have a life-changing career. And, of course, that applies whether you are twenty, fifty or seventy.

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