20 Apr FM TALKS: CAREERS! FINDING MEANINGFUL WORK.
FM Talks: Careers!
Part 1/3: Finding Meaningful Work
With Abadesi Osunsade
Right now, how do you feel about your career?
When you wake up to your work alarm every day do you feel excited? Challenged? Fulfilled? Or, like so many others, are you struggling to find your purpose? Overlooked by your boss? Held back by your own fears?
If you fall more into the latter group, you’re not alone. So much so, we wanted to seek some advice from a careers expert to help modern women move forwards in their work lives.
Since launching her career advancement community Hustle Crew in autumn 2016, Abadesi Osunsade has helped thousands of 20-somethings from diverse backgrounds land jobs in tech or progress their careers. In her book “Dream Big, Hustle Hard” she shares advice, activities and frameworks for building a fulfilling career. It’s all the advice she believes we should be learning at school but don’t.
This week, in the first of our three-part series on careers, we spoke to Abadesi on how we can all find more meaningful work in our lives.
Like you, we’re lucky enough to have found a way to carve our own paths when building our careers. When did you realise you wanted to do something different to the norm?
I never had a EUREKA moment. Instead I experienced a gradual realisation that I was approaching careers all wrong. Everything I had been taught about careers in school and university was wrong. I was taking cues from family and society in general about what it means to be successful and despite those cues I couldn’t escape the feeling that something was missing. I admitted that a frightening truth might be true; I didn’t know what I want!
I’d been asked questions throughout my education about my career and realised that they were all the wrong questions. I lacked the tools and mindsets necessary to make informed decisions about myself and my future. I realised if that was the case for me it must be true of so many other people, too. It was clear that the way we approach careers is broken and I wanted to fix it.
It seems like there’s a lot of uncertainty these days regarding what people really want to be doing in their careers and find ‘meaningfulness’ for themselves. Where do you think people should start?
Self awareness is the key to solving this problem. In my experience the uncertainty I had came from opposing views in my mind which I held in equal importance. Cognitive dissonance prevented me from committing to a long term strategy. I forced myself to scrutinise these views until I found clarity on which mattered most and then act accordingly. There are so many ways to increase our self awareness from meditating to journaling to coaching – each person should invest in the option most feasible and effective for them. I’m doing a free talk at General Assembly last Monday of April where I’ll share more examples of how to be mindful when approaching careers. I also recommend reading Tara Mohr’s book Playing Big, and joining communities that are focused on your industry – where you can share your ambition in a safe space and gain advice.
In so many of our jobs we must make data driven decisions in our approach. We conduct market research, user interviews, competitor analysis to name a few. But when it comes to our own lives – it’s like we’re sitting waiting for the right answers to enter our minds from out of thin air. Or we hope that the having the same conversation with different people will eventually get us the answer we need. How naïve! We should approach planning our lives as we approach planning a project. Let the decisions be guided by data. There’s a wonderful quote in DR Carol Dweck’s book MIndset that says; “exceptional individuals are those who understand their own strengths and weaknesses.” Every day I want to work towards understanding my own better.
// I Truly Believe That We Must Take A Holistic Approach To Our Careers If We Want To Stay Healthy & Feel Fulfilled. //
We’ve heard you use the term ‘data driven decisions’ a few times – what do you mean by that in relation to our personal and working lives?
It’s simple. The best indicator of future performance is past performance. I mean reflecting on what you have learned about yourself in the workplace so far to make decisions about your next best move. I often hear Hustle Crew women telling me that they want to move jobs to get paid more. But compensation is just one part of the puzzle – what if your commute doubles along with your salary, will you be OK with that? Or if your hours double?
I don’t teach prescriptive answers in my book or in Hustle Crew workshops, that’s where the careers world is going wrong right now. Instead I teach tools and mindsets that help individuals find the answers most true to them. These are tools that they can use even as they age and adapt. I truly believe that we must take a holistic approach to our careers if we want to stay healthy and feel fulfilled. Its only possible to do that by doing a deep dive into all our experiences at work so far. Using those experiences to draw out theories on what suits us, and what we enjoy.
That’s super interesting! And so how can we recognise or assess what our personal data points are?
It’s all about putting into practice different things that help you learn about yourself and build your self awareness. Interview yourself. Journal. Meditate. Join communities where you can align with like minded people, share experiences with them and gain advice. You can seek out mentors or coaches. If you’ve identified some weaknesses or self doubts you want to explore or overcome you can see a counsellor or a therapist. Or you can go on YouTube and watch TED talks or School of Life videos. The data points are down to your reflections of your life, but all the above help you process those memories and turn them into useful pieces of information to make better decisions.
Next week we talk with Abadesi about challenges & diversity in the workplace. stay tuned.