Your ā€˜&sā€™: One (small yet) powerful word, key to your career wellbeing and personal development plan

career planning Jun 19, 2023
Ampersand in lights on a white background

Why the ampersand is essential to your career wellbeing and perusal development plan...

Words are powerful...& - a small yet powerful work, it provides the key to unlock your career wellbeing and personal development plan. Learn more below...

Your ‘&s’: Why understanding them is essential for your career wellbeing and personal development?

As individuals, we play numerous roles and embrace various identities in our lives. We are parents, partners, siblings, children, friends, business owners, professionals, psychologists, students, food lovers, bakers, runners, walkers, readers, gardeners, and so much more. Defining ourselves solely by one word or a single role is not only a mistake, but it disregards the interconnected nature of our very humanity.

In this first article, we explore the importance of understanding our '&s' and how they shape our career journey but impact our wellbeing.

Embracing the Grey Area

All too often, we are placed into predefined boxes that come with societal rules dictating how we shouldperform specific roles. While these rules, that act as guidelines, can be helpful in managing our daily lives, they also promote binary thinking, leaving little room for the blurry margins that exist between these defined categories.

Yet, in truth, it is within this grey area, straddling between this and that, where many of us find ourselves as we navigate the complexities of life and work. This state of liminality, characterized by transition and blurred boundaries, may initially feel uncomfortable, particularly when our previously established boundaries undergo shifts or become unclear, such as in times of change like during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Challenge of Uncertainty:

Uncertainty, an inherent aspect of the liminal space, can trigger discomfort due to our brains' predisposition for routine and clear roadmaps. Our human nature tends to fear the unknown, and our minds often gravitate towards envisioning worst-case scenarios. However, while this instinct may have served our ancestors well, it is less beneficial in our rapidly evolving world, where uncertainty has become the norm. Navigating this ambiguous and liminal space, is now essential if we are to thrive, flourish, and progress in both our personal and professional lives.

The Symbolic Power of the Ampersand:

As we explore this liminal space, an important symbol emerges—the ampersand (&). Widely recognised, it signifies unity, connection, and the joining of concepts, identities, entities, or individuals. Positioned as a conduit, the ampersand allows the linking of multiple ideas or elements together.

It challenges the notion of defining ourselves solely by a job title or career choice and emphasises that we are multifaceted beings who defy attempts to confine us to binaries. By embracing the symbolism inherent in the ampersand, we gain a sense of entitlement, to acknowledge that we are constantly influenced by and have influence on others within the interconnected web of our lives and careers.

The Intersection of Identity:

Each one of us wears multiple '&s' in our lives, forming a unique tapestry of roles and identities. Rather than ignoring these intersections, learning to understand their influence on one another is an essential skill. Understanding how each role, identity, and '&', shape our decision-making process and behaviours enables personal and professional growth. It is through this understanding that we can craft a meaningful definition of success and develop a career plan that prioritizes both our professional and personal wellbeing.

The Ongoing Journey

Gaining insight into our personal '&s' requires introspection and acknowledging the interconnections within our roles and relationships. This journey of self-discovery and understanding is an ongoing one, enriching our lives and careers with meaning. While it may present challenges, especially when challenging societal expectations, embracing our unique set of '&s' allows us to navigate uncertainty with resilience.

As you embark on the exploration of your '&s', remember that you are a dynamic and multifaceted individual residing at the intersection of various roles and identities. Embrace the overlapping networks that your '&s' reveal to you, acknowledging that they form part of your entire identity.

Take control of what you can and approach what is beyond your control with your best effort.

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of 'what are your '&s'?'—only your answer. By understanding the richness of these connections, you empower yourself to design your own version of success.

Pause for 60 seconds, favourite pen in hand and notebook that makes you smile, focus on your '&s' the multiple identities that you hold within you...

As you map out your ‘&s’, remember that there is no right or wrong answer to the question

‘what are your ‘&s’?

There is only your answer.

So, as you learn to understand them each in isolation, remember they act as part of your entire identity, and it is through that lens that you learn to design your own version of success...

 Sinéad x 

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