Have you answered “Well, obviously, I’m doing what I want”? A lot of people do answer like that, automatically… BUT are you sure? Do you really know what you truly want? Most of us think we know, but very often that isn’t the case.

As we grow up, we are surrounded by adults, parents, relatives, teachers, other ‘authority’ figures in our closer or larger circle. They all have opinions, beliefs, expectations. From your very first day on this earth, they all have ideas of what they think you should do, the path you should follow, the way you should feel, behave, act, react… It isn’t intentional on their part to mould you to their shape, in most cases it is their love and best wishes for you that makes them the way they are. Nonetheless, as children it is normal that we follow what they think, believe, say.

As we get older this is extended because teachers, sports coaches and the like all have their own hopes and reactions to the outside world. Then comes University… you see where I am heading?

I am not saying any of this is bad, of course, mostly it is with the best of intentions, and frequently what they believe is laudable, honourable, desirable, respectable – BUT how often have you seen someone who has followed in their parents’ footsteps to become a doctor, lawyer, sportsman, taken over the family business… because it was expected of them, and yet they don’t really feel passionate about it, it isn’t really what they always dreamed of doing.

Have you ever thought about what everyone around you believed, felt and thought as you were growing up, studying, starting your first job? When you had relationships, children, family life, how much of your choice between career/staying at home, or prioritizing which partners job/career was affected by those around you? Do you know how much of what you do today is because of these external influences and habits?

For example, do you ever feel like this? Do you have a colleague who maybe confides in you about any of these?

  • Capable but stressed,
  • overworked, responsible position,
  • taking on challenges but not getting enough respect,
  • difficult boss or team members,
  • not sure career going in the right direction but not sure where that is,
  • want to shine, want to do well, but not appreciated
  • not getting promoted quickly enough or to the sector you would like, but can’t decide exactly which sector you would prefer.
  • Don’t feel that understood/appreciated,
  • Feel a bit lost, as though drifting.
  • Trying to keep good work-life balance but always something comes up
  • sometimes have a problem sleeping,
  • at weekends not enough energy to do what you want
  • feel life is passing by, don’t get enough time to do what you really want but when the opportunity is there not inspired to do anything much
  • slightly flat feeling, low/being drained,
  • maybe verging on depression.
  • You feel that there is more out there for you if you could only focus on it.
  • Feel boss and family always expect more, and differently; that people are always saying you should do x, y, or z when it doesn’t really appeal…

OR, do you feel like this

  • Happy to get up in the morning, jumping out of bed with a smile
  • waking up before the alarm having slept like a log for 7 or 8 hours
  • Can’t wait to start a new day and see all the new and exciting challenges you can work on
  • Laughing with the family/children/significant other over breakfast before calmly and happily going out the door
  • Looking forward to seeing your colleagues and working with your team
  • Full of ideas/solutions for any difficult steps of a project
  • Enjoy client and production meetings because you feel they are stimulating, positive and productive
  • Appreciate your co-workers and feel appreciated by them
  • Are confident that in any complicated situations you are fully supported, trusted and respected by bosses and colleagues
  • Enjoy all the opportunities you have to shine and be creative
  • Feel you are doing something worth doing, that is bringing a benefit to someone
  • Spend the day feeling happy, energised, dynamic and motivated
  • Finish your work day at a reasonable time so you can leave the office and do what you want to do – go to the gym, meet some friends, go home and spend time playing with the children, helping them with homework, eat with them etc…
  • Go to bed feeling happy, light-hearted, fulfilled and pleased with how your day has gone…

So which example do you think corresponds with doing what you should, or what you want?

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Anna Letitia Cook
Anna Letitia Cook

“Anna Cook is particularly passionate about mentoring women executives, and the 50+ sector, in finding clarity in their career choices to achieve freedom, fulfilment and leadership success. She created and became CEO of her first company in the entertainment industry at age 32. Midlife approaching, hungry for a dynamic change, she refocused her experience, founding WomenUP Ltd, focusing on the challenges of corporate gender balance strategy”. Creator of the process SCOPE for career, fulfilment and success. She is currently working on her first book ‘Liberate Your Career: The Women’s Guide to Freedom and Fulfilment’, with plans for a second, ‘Glass Ceiling Grans’, early next year. On the personal front: Mum, ‘flattie’ owner, horse lover, ballet fanatic, hiker! Into castle renovations, sculpture, farming, yoga. Drinks tea... Bosslady at @WomenUP Ltd.

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