Sad to say, but, for many of us, our careers define who we are.
We give our all at work to build a sustainable future, and even when we are enjoying our children or spending some quality time with our partner, thoughts about our careers are never far away.
There is a lot of talk at the moment about the need for a basic income for everyone in the future as the robots gradually take over (and pay their virtual taxes to fund it), but for most of us, this will not be enough. There will always be the pursuit of “more.”
For me, this never-ending ambition is the most dangerous career obsession - the warning sirens go off the moment a candidate (or even a friend) starts to talk about the future in wistful terms with little connection to their present situation. They are obsessed with reaching a goal that is so tantalising to contemplate that they lose themselves in the dream.
There is nothing wrong with planning to take the next step, but when your plans are dominated by jumping on a rocket and travelling to Mars, the thought of doing so will dominate your thoughts with little prospect of any true progress. This is where the spectre of depression and mental illness rears its debilitating head. It is laudable to want more, but when your ambitions are overly ambitious, you will feel a constant background noise of dissatisfaction. That will detrimentally affect your current performance and make your obsession even harder to achieve.
The explosion of social media posts from hugely successful Influencers is inspiring if you take a “maybe one day” approach, but if you seek to emulate them, no matter what, you can fail to appreciate the difference that you are making in your day-to-day job. We all have moments every day when we touch the lives of others for the better, but if we are constantly looking through our telescope towards a distant future, we will fail to see our impact on our world right now.
For me, that is what our career obsession should be. Doing the very best we can to make a difference.
I am smiling as I write these words as there may be someone out there for whom these words ring true. Some of my blogs get read by thousands of people, and I hope that the minutes spent contemplating which words to choose will be worth it for someone.
As the owner of an award-winning recruitment firm, I try to encourage my people to spend their days making their difference to others. It might be enjoyable to spend ten minutes dreaming about billing their first million, but best to spend this time crafting a slightly longer reply to an unsuccessful candidate or having a catch-up call with someone who has been looking for a while.
If you focus on the right things now, that glorious future has every chance of happening.