Monday, 5 May 2008

Grace's story - Career Change

My next post wasn't due until tomorrow but I came by an interesting career story yesterday that is worth sharing.

The individual in question, let's call her Grace, pursued a city financial services career for around 15 years. Grace's career delivered all the trappings of success but also of all the usual issues that work/life balance struggles to address (long, exhausting hours; little time at home with her family; stressful commute; etc). Grace's career also delivered little by way of fulfilment or personal satisfaction and the longer it went on, the less the rewards seemed to fit with what Grace wanted for herself and her family.

In the end, the stresses of the job and difficulties that it created took their toll and Grace was forced to take an extended absence due to ill health. During this leave, Grace questioned how well she fit with her chosen career and resolved to make changes. As an initial step, she identified a set of critical factors that would guide her direction and decision making. Grace was seeking a new professional direction that offered a greater degree of flexibility, more collaborative working practices and an environment where learning and development were encouraged.

With a great deal of hard work, a little good fortune and even more in the way of persistence (for more on persistence take a look at How's your self-efficacy? on the Johnny Bunko blog) Grace completed a qualification in corporate law and, taking an up-front cut in pay and status, joined a commercial legal team in a big corporate.

It may not sound like a classic career-to-vocation transition but Grace is happier with her career now than at any time in the past. Today, Grace leads the commercial law function for her company. Her team is growing and her role, within an organisation that fosters progressive working practices, allows her to spend more time with her family.

Among the points of interest relevant to work/life fusion, Grace's story demonstrates that it isn't just the individual who stands to benefit when this type of career questioning is explored. When we are energised and directed, those around us at home and at work can also be beneficiaries. Grace didn't follow a classic career path or a traditional career plan but work/life fusion would point out that she took steps to understand the values, talents and goals that were important in her case.

Armed with this knowledge, Grace described a new career direction and actively tested it in order to clarify her understanding. Effectively, Grace re-defined a vision of personal success that she turned into reality. In doing so she has found much, by way of satisfaction and fulfilment, that was missing from her previous experience.

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