As I write this (Oct 21), the headlines trumpet that job vacancies are at an all-time high. Workers are expected to have more choice and opportunity than ever before.  But for many of us, as we consider our future, we are confronted by two, seemingly unresolvable tensions: our working future with our employer and our career path has lost its promise and yet our financial commitments stretch into a future beyond our hopes of early retirement.

Why has your working future lost its promise?

Often the next step up the career ladder has become unobtainable.  We see others passing us by, the next step up is blocked by incumbents or the glass ceiling seems impenetrable.  Maybe the next step is undesirable because we are expected to work longer, have more responsibility, play the politics, abandon our passion for technical or creative excellence and just manage an endless round of frustrating or pointless meetings.  We no longer get opportunities for fresh training or new challenges.  Too often it feels like turning up and going through the motions with tougher targets, fewer resources and the implied threat of exit at the next re-organisation.  The joy has gone out of it.  You realise you have a need for a new workstyle.

And those financial commitments?

Even if you have maintained consistent pension contributions, asset growth has slowed, annuity rates are paltry and the expenses of divorce, a second family, university fees, helping off-spring with their weddings and the monthly costs of an urban lifestyle (holidays, cars, house, entertainment) continue to delay a mortgage free, debt free, work free future.  Maybe you are the meat in the sandwich generation: on-going financial commitments to children extending to helping them with a deposit for their first house and new commitments to your elderly parents (parents in-law) who need expensive, time-consuming support in their later years.  You realise you need to continue to maintain and grow your income for many years to come.

As you return to work with no respite until Christmas, it is a good time to make a realistic assessment of your future work prospects and take stock of your options.

Design a future to do what you love and love what you do.

Find out your Future Work Prospect Score here.

This article was originally written for KCW London.