Five points for planning a career with passion

If, like me, you like the odd glass of wine and were planning a holiday somewhere like Hawke's Bay or Central Otago, chances are you'd plan your journey to take in some vineyards.

If, like me, you like the odd glass of wine and were planning a holiday somewhere like Hawke’s Bay or Central Otago, chances are you’d plan your journey to take in some vineyards. Or if, like me, you liked chocolate and were visiting Europe, you’d probably schedule a visit to Switzerland. Or if, like me, you had a dog and were going for a walk on a hot day, you’d make sure the walk included a river or a beach (with the obligatory nearby mud for the dog to roll around in after he’s just had a wash in the water). My point is that none of the above take much effort. Yet when you’re thinking about your career, you may not take as much care in assessing where you’re heading. You may wonder why those promotions are passing you by. It could be that you’re not passionate enough about your job. If so, why? Waiheke Island-based Kevin McMahon, who has an IT background, coaches mainly senior people on their careers and has some IT clients. He has plenty of advice on how to be a success in your career. 1. Take the time to assess where you’re at. McMahon says one of the keys to a successful career is taking time out of your day-to-day work life, firstly to decide what’s important to you and where you want to go; and secondly to assess whether you’re heading in that direction. It’s hard to get above that daily grind to look at your career with clarity when under pressure from your workload, he says. "When people are really busy in their job, it’s almost like they’re holding their breath. If an environment is created where they’re taking the time to talk to somebody they respect and trust — tossing around their challenges, concerns or opportunities — the more clarity they get about what’s right for them." 2. Patience and tenacity. McMahon says both patience and tenacity are important in moving ahead — the patience to wait for the right opportunities and the tenacity to know when to go for them. However, he goes back to the point above in saying that knowing the distinction as to which quality is needed at a given time, requires people to get above their day-to-day working life. 3. Assess where you are at regularly. He says a lot of people look at where they are in their career — but only spasmodically. So they may take time out to think about where they’re heading while doing a course, or while on holiday, but no more regularly than that. 4. Know what your values are. For example, what do you get out of your work? Do you go to work to make a difference? Do you go to work just to make a lot money? McMahon says you should measure these values against the opportunities presented at work. "Your values will determine whether you are passionate about your position and ultimately whether you’re successful. When values are met, people are likely to excel." 5. Don’t forget to have fun. McMahon says to remember what you enjoy in life and put them back if they’ve gone. It might be going for a walk with your partner or a game of tennis with a friend. Fun in the workplace is also important. The good news about people’s attitude to work according to McMahon is that it has changed in recent years. He says he’s seeing more and more people who are saying that they want to be successful and enjoy their life. "Whereas, perhaps 10 years ago, they were saying: ‘For the next five years I’m almost putting my life on hold to develop my career’." He says people now seem to realise it’s not an "either/or" situation and that people who have a balanced lifestyle are often the most successful. Mills is Computerworld’s careers editor and can be contacted at kirstin_mills@idg.co.nz or ph: 03-467-2869 or fax: 0-3-467 2875.

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