A Career to Love

A Career to Love specialises in organizational & career change using best practices in psychology, to encourage progressive 21st century workplace choices

The 21st Century World of Work

How we think about, engage with and carry out our professional lives has changed dramatically over the past 15 years. The notion of one job for life is all but gone. Replaced by constant change and professional progression in different fields of expertise.

The average person now changes career six times before retiring and changes jobs 12 times before age 42. 65% of children in primary school will work in jobs that have not yet been created. It is within this context that you are making decisions.

To ensure that you are making the right choice for you it is vital that you choose a pathway that leaves as many doors as possible open to you. By the right choice, this means one that affords you the opportunity to apply your transferable skills in a wide range of different careers at different points in your professional life.

Therefore, it is critical to incorporate as many elements of your unique career personality into your search as possible. This involves thinking about what

  1.  interests,
  2. motivates and
  3. inspires you.

The real ‘why’ behind individual choices and what factors or people are influencing those decisions. Once you can comfortably answer these questions, it becomes much easier to make informed career decisions. 

The key to remember is that 70% of people can do 70% of jobs, however, happiness in your chosen career area comes down to your level of interest and passion in that career. Therefore, the ideal job, occupation or career is one that you find interesting, challenging and for which you have the most suitable mix of abilities.

Some Context

The most recent reports on this topic by Forbes, Morgan McKinley and the Future of Work Report by The World Economic Forum tell us that the average 35-year-old will change jobs 8 to 10 times before 42 and career 6 to 8 times before they retire.

So, job change and career transition is not just normal it is expected and considered a reality of the 21st century workplace.  

Gone is the notion of a linear progression through one job for life. It has been replaced by a workplace defined by transferable skills used simultaneously in a variety of jobs, as a contract employee at other times, and on some occasions as a specialist consultant.

The 21st century worker is a nomadic in nature, seeks new experiences, thinks outside the box and yearns to live in a career they love. Success is self-defined and employees are willing to change job or career direction as often as is necessary to find their career path.

So how do you know if you are average in terms of these statistics? What does job change mean & what does career change mean? What stage of your career life are you in?

Job change means that you move within your existing company to a new role, get a promotion or move company to progress your career. So, it is easy to see where you might clock up 8 to 10 job changes before you are 42. From 42 to retirement seems to be a more stable period in terms of job change as you are expected to approximately 4 times during this period.

Career change on the other hand is a much bigger decision. Career change means that you change the fundamental nature of your working role. If you are like me, at 35 years old, your career trajectory might look like this: started in law, progressed to education, moved to careers & educational psychology as an employee and became self-employed. 35 and 4 career changes under my belt!

Consider this in light of the fact that 50% of the jobs that we will be doing in 2030 have not yet been created. Who knows what exciting opportunities are out there in the future?

Taking all of the above information into account the following are some career areas which you are we discussed at out last meeting and which you showed a strong interest in. In addition, based on your career profile you are most likely find interesting and challenging, and therefore might enjoy. 

Your Non-Negotiables

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take your eyes off you.
— Maya Angelou

As an adult between the ages of 21 and 70 most of your waking hours are spent at work, in your job or engaged in your career. A non-discretionary activity, for the majority, work occupies approximately 25% of the 168 hours available to us weekly. Keep in mind this 25% is based on 40-hour week and doesn’t take into account the hours spent on the daily commute or the time you spend thinking about your job.

Whether you love your job, hate it, succeed or fail in it, achieve fame or infamy through it forms part of who you are. Just think of the last time you met somebody for the first time. Did your job, career or profession come up in the conversation? Typically, yes.

As adults work looms so large in our lives that we both find identity in and are identified by the work that we do.

In the wise words of Aristotle, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ and in the 21st century workplace it is all but impossible to separate the professional from the personal self. Just think you are likely to spend more time with your work colleagues than you do with your family, partner, children and friends. So, unsurprisingly work is far from a neutral activity involving a simple exchange of labor for pay - enjoy it and you thrive, hate it and you struggle to survive the daily grind.

Based on this it is vital for you to consider and understand what your non-negotiables are.

Your Non-Negotiables

Your career non-negotiables are the clear, well-defined themes upon which you design your career story. They are found at the intersection of the three core aspects of self –lifestyle, personal, and professional – and form the basis of your decision-making platform. As unique to you as your fingerprint they are based on the things you enjoy doing. They are the things, people, skills, activities and challenges in life that give you a sense of happiness and calmness. For you, they are the specific things fundamental to your enjoyment of life and help you feel a sense of blend between life and work.

Understanding your non-negotiables form an integral part of the change process. Start by asking yourself these simple questions:

  1. If you were free to do whatever you wanted, what are you most drawn to?
  2. What hobbies and interests did you enjoy as a child? Do you still enjoy these activities and do you get the chance to include them in your career or personal life?
  3. Do you make time to do the things that are important to you?
  4. What activities make you feel healthier, happier, more content, less frustrated and more engaged?
  5. At work, when do you feel time passes most quickly? What functional parts of your role do you most enjoy?

Answer these questions from a place of personal and professional honesty. Peel back the layers of influence. Forget about what others may or may not think. Forget about the fear of failure, the fear of success or fear of the unknown. Differentiate your opinion from the viewpoint of those closest to you, and ensure that you do not mistake their opinion for your opinion.

Choose Life

The order that you begin to consider your non-negotiables is vital. In fact, the order is a non-negotiable! Lifestyle first, then personal and then, and only then, consider your professional non-negotiables.

Understandably, when suffering from career chaos, your sole focus is on work and how to improve it. But in the wise words of Aristotle, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts’, and to establish what you want professionally you must not alone determine but also intimately understand what is important in the rest of your life.

The 60-Second Process

Allocate one minute per day over a three week period to think about and capture your non-negotiables. Be very specific and name the time you are going to do this every day. By doing this you capture all of your thoughts and feelings about work, life and wellbeing. This is the start of the process which will lead you to thrive and not just survive at work. It will allow you to see reoccurring patterns and themes.

Now that you understand the context of your non-negotiables, consider your needs under three distinct categories:

Life-style Non-Negotiables

For you to be healthy and functioning you need to sleep for 8 hours per night, to eat healthily, to engage in hobbies and to do at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

These are fundamental facts of life. However, what do they look like for you as an individual?

  1. How much sleep do you get per night and how much do you need? How are you going to do to manage this going forward?
  2. How does your daily eating plan fit in with your overall wellbeing? Is there anything that you can do to make this easier for you or to improve it for you?
  3. How much time do you find to exercise weekly? Do you get time each day to raise your heart rate and increase your metabolism? Remember, the recommended is at least 30 minutes per day. How do you rate? What can you do to change or improve?
  4. Do you make time to do things that interest you? Do you spend time with friends and family, do you have time to do the things that you enjoy and engage in activities that help you switch off?

Personal Non-Negotiables

Your personal non-negotiables are the core basic things that have to be in place in order for you to live a normal happy life. The best way to explain this is by using examples:

  1. Finance: No matter what anybody says, money matters. You need to understand how much money you need to earn to pay for the important things in life. For example, what are your monthly financial needs for food, rent/mortgage, crèche, health bills, dog kennels, health insurance, transport, etc.?
  2. Flexibility: It’s vital for you that you can work flexible hours from home for you to take care of your children, a sick family member, etc.
  3. Location: At the moment location is non-negotiable as you have a mortgage, immediate and wider family commitments and social commitments. Therefore, moving to a different country or doing long commutes is not currently possible.

Professional Non-Negotiables

Professional non-negotiables are the functional parts of your role that you need to feel happy at work. These are the things that you need or want from a role or your career. Some examples might be that you need a role that is-

  1. People facing,
  2. Socially meaningful in the not for profit sector, and
  3. Affords you the opportunity to work as part of a team but provides the opportunity for independent projects,
  4. Gives you the opportunity to pay attention to the finer details rather than the bigger picture
  5. A total change from your previous role.

Prioritising Career Non-Negotiables

Once you’ve established them, prioritise your non-negotiables. Logically begin to decide which non-negotiables are most important to you and why. Which item on your list is the one thing that must be adhered to, no matter what? Define the second most important and so on. Try to adhere to the top 3 – 4 items as this will help you feel a sense of calm and stability. While the other items on your list are important, they are not as vital.

Revisiting Your Career Non-Negotiables

Your non-negotiables evolve over time. This is both natural and expected. You should give yourself permission to re-evaluate then as circumstances change. Be as flexible and as dynamic as necessary. For example, you want to keep your commute to one hour or less each way each day. But you now have a job offer that meets all of your non-negotiables but you have to travel an extra 15 minutes each way each day. You feel you will enjoy this job and it fits your overall career story, but you have to give up another non-negotiable to take up the role. Ask yourself honestly are you willing, in the short-term, to travel an extra 30 minutes per day. On balance, what is the best thing for you to do?

Flexibility and your Career Non-Negotiables

When you figure out what your non-negotiables are, write them down and put them in a prominent place. This daily reminder helps keep you on track. If you don’t meet your non-negotiables daily, don't beat yourself up. If you notice your dedication is slipping, sit up and take stock. Ask yourself did you just have a bad week or have you slipped into bad habits? Since the slip, how are your stress levels? Have you set unrealistic non-negotiables? Or is it simply a case that other things are taking over and you need to regain control?

Not an easy process to go through but one that is meaningful, important and hugely insightful for you moving forward in your career.

For more on this check out Why Knowing Your ‘Non-Negotiables’ is Vital

The Importance of Momentous Moments

The majority of us are familiar with performance reviews. Typically, it’s an anxiety-inducing annual sit down with your boss about what you have (or have not) achieved in the past year. A meeting that few look forward to, most fear and the majority feel some level of anxiety about. Not the highlight of most employees year!

Companies and managers see performance reviews from a different perspective. They place a high value on these meetings and spend a significant portion of time preparing for them. We, as employees, tend to be a lot less familiar with our career story and the momentous moments that form it.

Know Your Own Story

Knowing your career story is vital in a dynamic and bustling workplace. It is not just important for companies to engage with branding, storytelling and marketing you need to do so also. Knowing your career story is a vital part of this. Plan and be ready for your next career step what ever that might be. 

In a world driven by bottom line figures, analytics, data, and metrics, not alone do employers need to know about your performance but you need to understand your career story. 


Not alone do they want to know how you are doing, they need to know what you are doing and how it is benefitting them. So if companies and employers take your performance seriously, you have to ask yourself how much time do you spend productively, evaluating your performance? Ask yourself these simple searching questions-

1.    How do you record your professional accomplishments?

2.    Do you spend time self-evaluating?

3.    Do you record your professional achievements and specific contributions to projects on an ongoing basis?

If you do, you are the exception to the rule. If you don't, why not? Remember, in a world driven by analytics everything you say at a performance review or interview must be backed up with facts and figures. The only way to remember everything you do is to record it, write it down or open a file! 

Your key Career Moments sit at the intersection of your long term momentous moments, your daily micro moments and your future DIY moments. 


Momentous Moments

Your momentous moments are the big events that stand out for you. The key events in your career that you may have filed off under the ‘past’, seldom thought about but nonetheless form a very important part of your career journey to date.

Not always positive, in fact sometimes arising from a very difficult situation, your momentous moments are events, projects, changes, crisis, interviews, successes, failures and other moments that you learned from.  

Some examples include events, projects, or big moves that you are proud of. Perhaps you were head hunted, you delivered a difficult project on time and within budget, built a new team or progressed quickly in your role. On the other hand you may have had your period of probation extended, been made redundant, made a major mistake or got laid off. 

While you are likely to have a mixture of both it is important that you figure out what you learned from both experiences and the role these events have played in your career progression to date.


There is nothing elusive or magical about your momentous moments. Rather, the devil is in the detail.

Your micromoments are the mundane tasks that you carry out day-in-day-out that you take for granted, but others could not do as well. Something you did that you felt went well.

An accomplishment, a target met, a deadline nailed, an awkward meeting successfully concluded, a productive week, billable hours reached or something similar.

It does not have to be a big moment like the smooth handover of a project or hitting well beyond your KPI.

  1. It may be that you set yourself a specific goal to be more organised. As such you decided to and successfully cleared your desk of all files.
  2. You may have a project that you don't want to do and you keep putting it off. But this week you sat down and started on one small aspect of it.
  3. You identified a skills lacuna the previous week. Since then you made a conscious effort to research courses to help fill these skills gap. You are now enrolled on a course to bridge this skills gap.

You will have at least seven momentous moments every week. If you don't record them, you will forget them. It is vital that you take the time to do so.

Future DIY Moments

Your future DIY moments are the events, meetings, courses or things that you keep putting on the long finger yet are always at the back of your mind. The smallest of things that you want to do yet you never seem to get around to them.

Start now. Stop thinking and start doing.

Put a plan in place to network once per month, meet a friend for coffee every second week, invite an old colleague to lunch, start that online course, update your CV. Whatever it is commit to it and do it then record it as a micromoment.

Record Your Career Moments

Schedule 1 minute every day to record your career moments. For example, every day at 8.30pm set a reminder on your phone that tells you it is momentous moments time. Sit down and write, use your voice memo, or take some photographs that represent at least one professional contribution you made today that you are proud of. Outline tasks you completed, what you learned from it and what your particular contribution was. This is an important part of the process.

Your 60 Seconds of Career Moments

This simple 60-second exercise arms you with concrete evidence of your work to date, what you learned from it and what it meant in practical terms for you professionally. As each week passes your momentous moments chart expands. This growing list of your achievements, accomplishments or things you did that you are proud of bolsters confidence. It also forms a vital part of your performance review preparation, CV development and interview management.

For more on this check out Why Your Career Moments Are So Important