At the start of the year I felt it was time to think about the direction my career was going in. Once in a career it's so easy to go with the flow. Especially as it causes the least ripples for all involved.
I got to the point where I wasn't going to let a few waves get in the way of doing something I'm always talking about. Reaching my potential.
I'm leaving my job as a newsreader and presenter to go and work for a charity. There were a few raised eyebrows when I announced that. Then the question, why? I currently read the early morning news at ITV in the Midlands. I've worked in newsrooms for almost ten years and presented for most of that time. It is definitely a comfortable space for me.
A conversation with a friend's husband a few months ago must have lodged itself in my subconscious somewhere. His work coach had him take a test to find out his core strengths. He realised the job he had didn't really match up, so changed it to a job that suited what he was good at and is loving life.
I recently took the test that promised to help me find the five things that were my core strengths. In the beginning for the first few questions I gave the 'right' answer. Then I started giving my real answers. The results came back that my five core strengths were individualisation, communication, strategy, activator and belief.
My current role works well with a couple of those strengths. That's when I began to think of the constant niggling restlessness. The always reaching and sometimes overreaching. I needed a job that was going to match where I wanted to go.
I knew I had untapped potential that I wasn't even beginning to explore.
Belief being a core strength, it may not surprise you if I say that, I have quite a strong Christian faith. The events that conspired to land me a job at the charity Tearfund were beyond a coincidence. I was at their HQ for a meeting and saw the job I went for whilst there. I actually said to the person next to me, "that's my job". I'd been praying for some extra guidance on what was next for me, it felt like providence.
To answer the why question I was asked, my new role will see me become the Head of Digital Strategy at Tearfund and part of the senior leadership team. The job matches all five of my core strengths and that is so exciting. The opportunity to take so much from my media experience and use that for a greater good was one I couldn't pass up. Also I will have the chance to take on a job that has the potential to bring out the best of the best in me.
If you are at the career crossroads here are a few things to think about:
- Are you working and earning below your potential?
- Do you know what your core strengths are?
- It's ten years from now and you're in the same job how do you feel?
Answer them honestly and you'll know if it's time for a new direction. Asking simply are you happy is not always helpful. Your happiness levels at work can change if you get a bonus. What you want to get to the bottom of is if your job is all you can be or is there more out there for you?
One thing people always want to know is what will happen to my 'profile' when I come off air. Now, if you're reading this and you've never even heard of me then you may laugh at that. Presenting in news is a real privilege and I'm not saying never again! But, I want my life to be about more than my profile and being seen. I want to have a job that makes me come alive. Because the world needs more people who have come alive. We spend so much time at work. Spending 35 to 40 hours a week just waiting for home time is a waste of a life. It doesn't matter what your job is as long as you have more enjoyable moments than un-enjoyable ones. I'm not sure I believe in the utopia that is enjoying every single second of your job, I'm about to find out. But I definitely want to feel fulfilled. News has been great, but in finding out what my strengths are, I realised it was time for a change.
BUT! An almost ten-year career in journalism is not easy to part from. I'll still freelance occasionally as I love it.
It can seem scarier to know that you need more or something different, because then you'll have to do something about it.
Taking that step isn't always the easiest thing to do. As I handed in my notice I wondered if I was sure. If I have what it takes for my new role. What worries me more than that is looking back with regret and only being able to say 'what if?'
Surely it's easier to find out what your strengths are and work to them instead.