Seriously, who is in control of your career?

Seriously, who is in control of your career?

I flew home from China the other day and was sitting next to a guy on the plane who had just spent four weeks with his family in Huzhou. Since completing his degree as an international student, Victor has been working in Sydney for the last six years. As the plane taxied out to the runway, Victor started to look quite pale, so I re-assured him that there was nothing to worry about. “Oh I’m not afraid of flying at all”, he said. “I’m just really anxious about going back to work tomorrow”.

I must have looked like someone willing to listen, since for the next hour he told me his story.

His (very traditional) parents had sent him to study in Australia and had then pressured him to embark on a career in finance. “I hate it”, he told me. “I just want to leave the world in a better place than I found it, and the bank I work for definitely won’t help me achieve that goal. But I have to please my parents”.

Hmm… I’d definitely heard that one before.

I then casually asked what he would rather be doing.

I’m creative. I want to make documentaries or produce music. My parents don’t know this, but I write a blog under a pseudonym and I even moonlight as a DJ whenever I can. I have a huge following.” He paused, took a sip of water, and then said, “I just can’t spend another year in no man’s land”.

I told Victor how throughout my career I had sat across from (as opposed to next to) literally hundreds of people in a very similar situation.

The most important thing to realise is that you have to be in charge of your own career. If you allow other people to direct you, you won’t ever be happy.

Victor turned and stared out the window for at least 5 minutes. He then leant back against his seat, closed his eyes, and said, No more regrets.

Victor took out a note pad and started sketching furiously. A few hours later, as the plane started to descend into Sydney, he showed me a few of his sketches. They were amazing. One of the comic characters he had drawn looked like some kind of Chinese super hero. When I asked him what the Chinese characters meant in the caption he smiled and said, “To the sky, its limits, and beyond!”.

He then smiled and said, “I’ll be making some pretty big career changes in the Year of the Snake”.

More reading: 

Job seekers: How do you stand out from the crowd?
My top 5 career lessons
Can a picture REALLY tell a thousand words?
Is an offline approach to the online job hunt possible?
Land your ideal job, one small step at a time
An insightful interview question to put on your radar
Do you realise how far you’ve come in your career?
Where is your career path leading you?
Corporate or creative attire: what’s your style (and does it matter)?
Can academic results ruin your chance of getting an interview?
Are you able to clearly articulate what you do?


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