Make career planning a regular feature of working life
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an expatriate involved in the oil and gas industry in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a teacher at one of the many international schools in Egypt, or an employee of a major multinational Middle East bank, charting a successful career path is a vital exercise no matter where you live and work. It should be a proactive exercise, not one carried out only when plans go wrong or when a career grinds to a stop inside some company cul-de-sac.
The world of international business continues to provide opportunities for expatriates, with tens of thousands moving abroad each year in a bid to better their lives. Banking and business finance have proved particularly lucrative areas of employment over the years, and will continue to do so as the needs of multinational companies grow ever larger in their attempts to circle the globe. However, much is expected of the individual within such organisations. And with the high salary paid comes enormous pressures, acceptable perhaps for a few years. But then what? That’s when career planning comes into its own.
Career planning ought to be an integral feature within our working lives and should be carried out on a regular basis, at least once every couple of years. Yet how many of us do so? When was the last time you sat down with someone and discussed your career options? Was it maybe during the last year at school or the final year at university? And over the years since then, you’ve muddled your way along a rather convoluted career path, probably never quite sure where it was all leading to. Recognise the scenario? If the answer is yes then it’s time to do something about it.
Take stock! Grab an hour or two from your busy schedule and sit down and relax. Turn off the mobile phone, the television, the radio. Tell everyone you’re unavailable. Then think back, to your first job, the second one and so on. If possible, analyse what you did and why. Could you have done anything differently? Be honest with yourself, critical, yes, but not self-destructive. You can’t change the past. But you can learn from the past and take any lessons with you into the future.
Mull over what you really want out of life. Is it more money, greater challenges and responsibilities, or a better quality of home life with more time spent with the family? What is it that you like about your life? What don’t you like? Grab a piece of paper and a pen and draw two columns, one headed ‘like’ and the other ‘dislike’. Go through everything, jotting each down in the appropriate column. Now, if there are lots of entries in the dislike column, and a fair number of them refer to your job, that’s a possible sign you need to change career. If circumstances don’t allow you to, you would certainly need to change something, anything, in order to begin to turn your life around.
A possible way forward is to up the level of any qualifications you may possess. Better qualifications usually mean more opportunities for advancement. But they can also take your career, and your life, in a whole different direction. Taking interests and hobbies more seriously can sometimes turn into career possibilities, too, something which you should at least consider.
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Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link