The formal concept of ‘career’ – one’s calling in life, or one’s profession is also translated from ‘vitae’ (Latin) as the ‘course of one’s life’. With many influences on our lives such as family, community, cultural values, geographic, economic and political circumstances, how do you find the best course for your life?
Until the Industrial Revolution from the late 1700s, most types of work focussed primarily on the provision of food for subsistence with limited quantities for bartering and sale. Work was usually undertaken at home or near home. Most people did not have a choice in how their life progressed, undertaking work simply to survive. The Industrial or Manufacturing economy, between 1800 and 2000, provided increasing opportunities for careers outside of the home, in factories constructed to increase the production of goods such as textiles on a mass scale. Improved methods for producing goods required new ways of organising people to ensure a reliable workforce.
In 1911, Frederick Winslow Taylor developed the principles of Scientific Management – with ways to efficiently develop specialised labour for workplace roles, optimising the way tasks were performed, increasing productivity and simplifying jobs. The changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution provided the foundations for guidance in vocations (work), the psychology of work and career development to develop and get the best out of people. The concept of ‘career’ – changed dramatically during the Industrial Revolution. Individuals moved from being craftspeople – in charge of their own destiny to employees having to answer to a supervisor. Today, influences such as:
- The divide between skilled and unskilled work
- Technical specialties in industries such as rail being in high demand
- The influence of social media
- Thinking and business conducted on a global scale
- Disruption through technology
provide food for thought about where new career opportunities are likely to emerge. For many people, finding the right fit in ones’ career has been straightforward but for others more difficult.
These factors often highlight lack of personal awareness about self or the wider environment when the environment changes around us and the new situation does not suit us anymore. Considering that we are at work for between 40 and 60 years or 60,000 and 90,000 hours, our career should be satisfying and enjoyable and fulfil the needs we have at the various stages of our lives. Some theories that seek to explain ‘careers’ include:
- Super’s Theory – based on developing a sense of self or who you are and realising that you change over time is important when planning your career, link: https://www.careers.govt.nz/assets/pages/docs/career-theory-model-super.pdf
- Hollands Theory of Career Choice – careers are determined by the interface between our personality and the work environment most suited to our personality, link: https://www.careerkey.org/choose-a-career/hollands-theory-of-career-choice.html#.XPnZfFwzbIU
- Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory – careers are developed through observing what others do as in family or work colleagues, link: https://d2l.deakin.edu.au/d2l/eP/presentations/presentation_preview_popup.d2l?presId=96946
In the twenty first century, careers are influenced by a range of environmental and societal factors. Increasingly, coaching and mentoring are used to consider all parts of a person’s life to forge a successful career. The Australian Blueprint for Career Development outlines key principles for developing a successful career: https://cica.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Australian-Blueprint-Poster.pdf/ These principles include:
- Personal awareness of what is right for you at the stage of your life you are at now
- Maintaining a positive outlook that allows you to change and grow throughout life
- Understanding the relationship between work, society and the economy
- Getting started in a career, maintaining work but upholding a balance between work and life
- Appreciate the changing nature of work and life roles
- Being prepared to move to the next role when your situation changes
Careers are coming full circle, already reverting to their beginnings, where people have a desire to be free of the organisation and to follow their ‘calling’ as people seek more work/life balance or ‘self-actualisation’ (Link: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html). Mentoring with a trusted friend or advisor, can open up the four quadrants of self-awareness as explained by the Johari Window, and help individuals develop a more fulfilling career by recognising parts of themselves that are unknown to themselves and others, link: http://www.selfawareness.org.uk/news/understanding-the-johari-window-model
“It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”
Marianne Williamson, American author
In my next article, I will look further at mentoring and how this can help your career.
Dr Janene Piip
Talent consultant and career practitioner