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The Myths Of Work. The 5 Minute Career Coach September 2010
September 01, 2010

Helping Career Changers Around The World

September 2010


Welcome to the September 2010 edition of The 5 Minute Career Coach.

What's in this Issue

This month I am encouraging you to be argumentative! It's high time you started to question your reasons (excuses?) for still being stuck in the job you hate. So skip on down to the article about the myths of work and get myth-busting!

With best wishes

Quote of the Day

An old belief is like an old shoe. We so value its comfort that we fail to notice the hole in it.
~Robert Brault~

Time to check your shoes/beliefs for holes? Time to admit you need to throw them out and put up with a little discomfort while you get used to some new ones instead? No better time to start than now!

The Myths Of Work

I have taken my inspiration this month from a new book by John Williams called Screw Work, Let's Play (more on this under Recommended Resources.

One of the key themes in John's book is the notion that we are limited in what we do to earn a living by a mythology about work. Nick Williams (no relation to John) has written about his too in his book The Work We Were Born To Do so I have brought together some of their ideas.

Many of us carry a set of fixed beliefs that shape what we expect of our working lives. These beliefs come from a number of different sources - our parents, our education, the media, those who employ us etc etc. But these beliefs lodge themselves deep in our brains and can be very hard to shift. Instead of being beliefs that we can discuss and challenge, they somehow turn into FACTS that cannot be disputed.

OK, it's time to get bolshy! You may not normally be the argumentative type, but I want you to start disputing some of these supposed 'facts'. Take a look at some of the examples below. Do you at some level believe any of these to be true?

Work is meant to be hard, the struggle is worthy
Who says? Why is it worthy to struggle? Who is going to give you brownie points for suffering? Is it not more likely that you will be productive and give of your best if you are doing something you enjoy? And is finding a way to give of your best not a much more worthy aim in life?

Work means being employed by someone else, 9-5, 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year till you retire
Now, be honest – does everyone's work follow this model? Of course not! There are lots of different ways of constructing a working life. You are not obliged to adopt the standard model. Dare to be different!

Doing what you love is selfish
This links in with the work = struggle belief. Somehow doing things that give you pleasure is seen as self indulgent. Wrong! If, for example, you love being in the great outdoors, then a job leading others on treks is giving them pleasure as well as you. If you love making beautiful jewellery, then other people will delight in wearing what you create.

Work is just about getting the money to survive
Do you really think it is just about money? Sure we need enough to pay the basic bills, but beyond that, we are truly motivated by bigger things such as autonomy, mastery and purpose. Take a look at this talk by Dan Pink wonderfully animated by RSA to find out more.

My dream career is just a fantasy
What makes you believe that? Are you really writing it off because you are too scared to step up and take the challenge? Yes, it might mean taking a risk or two, but do you really want to leave this life knowing you never even tried?

It is safer to have a job than to be self employed
The media are whipping us up into a nice frenzy over the recession, aren't they? I'm not saying it is not happening, but it does mean that many people feel that they've got to sit tight in a job to be safe. Well, many companies have long abandoned any loyalty to their staff, so being employed no longer means guaranteed security. If you work for yourself, much of your destiny is in your own hands – a big responsibility, but an empowering one too.

People who are successful at work are just different from me
Are they really? We are all the same behind the image we project. If you read the stories of successful people you will find many of the fears and insecurities you may be feeling now. The only difference is that they work through them, they carry on in spite of them. That can be a challenge, but it is an approach we can all take if we really put our minds to it.

Do these myths sound familiar?
If any of these myths about work ring a bell for you, now is the time to stand up and start questioning them. Ask yourself whether they are the barriers which prevent you from moving forward with your career change dreams. If yes, then I challenge you to try spending a day when you jettison those beliefs and see just how far you can open your mind to new career possibilities when you are free of the work myths you have carried for so long.

Your 5 Minute Coaching Session

Challenging questions are one of the key tools coaches use in helping clients to create change.

Each month I offer you a mini coaching session by asking you a challenging question to think about. The questions I ask are designed to get you thinking in new ways and hopefully gain insights that may open your mind to new possibilities for you career and for your life.

If you really believed that a complete career change were possible, what would you do?

Go on, put those doubts behind you for a while and let yourself explore what you would love to be doing to earn a living. It could be one thing or it might be a mixture of several different activities. It might be just a variation of your current role or it could be something totally new.

Everything new in the world begins with a thought, a dream. So just get started!

Recommended Resources

Screw Work, Let's Play
How To Do What You Love And Get Paid For It
John Williams

I heard John Williams speak at the Inspired Entrepreneur's Club last month (and got a free copy of his book too!). Screw Work, Let's Play is a great book for would be career changers that will really challenge your thinking about what is possible.

John is passionate about the idea that work can and should be as much fun as playing and his book guides you through how you can make that happen. He takes you through a 10 step process that includes finding out what you want to do, getting started right now, how to guarantee success and winning your first 'playcheque'.

The Sunday Times wrote about Screw Work, Let's Play:

'A compelling 10-step escape from corporate life that could spell a rash of resignation letters.'

Are you ready to write your resignation letter? You will be once you have read the book!

There's lots of great info on John's Screw Work, Let's Play website too – why not take a look?

More recommendations
If you would like to see more recommendations for books and similar resources, follow the link to the Career Change Books page of the How To Change Careers website. Do keep popping back to it as I am adding to it all the time.

And if there are books and resources that have inspired you and that you would like to recommend, there is a place for you to do so on that page.

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