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I have spent all my working life around professionals who have sought to build a career through their professional skills. But very early on in my working life I realised that, for me, being in full-time professional employment, wasn’t going to Make my Future Work. As I talk to others who have already built a successful professional career, they are increasingly telling me that full time professional employment won’t Make their Future Work.
So here are 10 reasons that you should consider that will help you to reflect on whether full time professional employment will Make your Future Work.
1. You lack opportunities to learn and grow
As your career progresses, particularly from age 45+, you will find that your professional skills are less valued than your leadership, management and influencing skills. Many of the organisations that you work with will not invest in developing these skills in you. Inevitably, you face a situation where most of your working life is being in meetings, liaising, coordinating and dealing with people issues, rather than applying your professional skills. So, from a personal and professional development point of view, you’ve run out of road.
2. You have no opportunities for further advancement
However far you’ve risen through your professional career, there comes a point where you realise, you’re not going to get the next big job. Whether you’re a senior executive or even a director, you start to see that stepping up to the next level is never going to happen.
In fact, it’s worse than that:
You can’t move to a different business, which has got a better brand, which is going to stretch and grow you. Instead, you’re constantly thinking about how you’re going to survive the next management reshuffle; how you’re going to avoid being moved sideways into a backwater; how you’re going to make sure that you retain the job that you’ve got. And when you lose your current role, you are likely to be working for a smaller, less prestigious, less rewarding organisation with a weaker support system and less talented colleagues.
3. You’re tired of working 60+ hours a week
Professional employment is getting more and more demanding as organisations de-layer and reorganise. Very often you’ll find that demanding the job you had, becomes, at the next reshuffle, 50% to 100% more demanding as you take on somebody else’s responsibilities, have more direct reports or a wider scope of control. The expectations of what you have to deliver has increased by 50% – 70% and 60 hours a week is only a starting point.
In addition, you may be expected to drop everything and fly somewhere at short notice, be prepared to have conference calls at the weekend, be working during your commute and to attending evening meetings. The core 60 hours is never going to be enough.
Many senior professionals tell me that, because they spend so much time in meetings, they don’t have any time during the working day to do ‘real’ work. The ‘real’ work must be done in their own time, out of the office, for them to achieve the demands of the organisation.
4. Your personal priorities have changed
You recognise that you want to have the freedom to support those ageing relatives who need more care, spend time with your teenage children or enjoy the benefits of rebuilding your relationship with your life partner.
Perhaps your children have left home, you want to pursue some of those hobbies which have been squeezed out, have quality time with those you care about most or pursue that dream you have been nursing for years. Full time professional employment on the terms that are available in the market won’t allow you to do that. Ever.
5. You want to move to part-time
Flexible working for full time professionals, is occasionally available. However, if you are senior, it can be very hard to negotiate. In a large organisation you might be able to apply for a job share when a new opportunity comes up, but most senior roles don’t offer job share. I hear too many people who say they’ve moved to four days a week, but all that means is they suffered a 20% pay cut and they’re working just as hard.
6. You want to sustain your working life beyond 65 and into your early 70s
Unless you’re a judge, there are very few roles in which you can sustain your professional employment indefinitely. Equality law holds out the promise that you can’t be sacked on the grounds of your age but only because of lack of capacity. The reality is that most organisations have a culture and practice that removes you between ages 60 and 65. However, there are good reasons why, in your early 60s you want to be working into your mid 70s. You know working keeps you lively if it’s enjoyable and rewarding. Perhaps you can’t see a sustainable financial future unless you continue to build your pension and savings into your mid 70s.
7. Your full-time professional employment is no longer what you signed up to
In many corporate environments your professional experience whether in finance, marketing, IT, HR, sales or something else is no longer what you are valued for. Success is measured by your ability to play the politics, manage dysfunctional relationships, manipulate others and survive through the regular reshuffles. Your ability to play the corporate game has become more important than any value you can bring from your professional skills and you have just had enough.
8. You’re bored with what’s going on
It feels like you’ve seen it all before. Even when you’ve moved to another organisation, it’s just the same thing dressed up differently. You are bored. You are ready to make a radical change to your working life. You are in your late 40s, early 50s or even a bit older. You don’t want the same old, same old until you’re too old for anything else.
9. You’ve always hankered after working for yourself
You would love that freedom. You relish the opportunity for new choices and full-time professional employment is never going give you that. In fact, as you’ve risen through your career, your freedom of action and your joy in the everyday aspects of your work has been diminishing, step by step, year by year.
10. You want to move from success to significance
Yes, you’ve had a successful professional career. Yes, you’re now working with a great team and a great organisation. But ultimately, all you’re doing is helping to make richer people richer. You’d like to make a difference, beyond the day to day of supporting the business that you’re in. The organisation you work for is making steps towards ESG, CSR, Diversity, Green, but you don’t think it’s going to make enough change fast enough. You’re not going to see the significant difference you hoped, for the things you care about.
For you, these may not be your 10 reasons. You may not have as many as 10 reasons. However, uncritically carrying on carrying on won’t Make your Future Work. It’s time to explore the alternatives. Look at the on-demand webinar at http://2ndhalfcareer.com , review your Future Work Prospect Score here or take the 30 day challenge here.
If you are sat in a hot bath in a cold room that is slowly getting colder, there is only so long that you can top it up with a little more hot water. The longer you take to get out, have a brisk towelling down and get into fresh clothes, the more likely you are to struggle to get warm again.
Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.