In the final blog in his mini-series on the value of Philosophy in Business, Volunteering and Career, Lee reflects on how he has applied his philosophy skills to his own career decisions
Big Career Decisions
Finally, a quick word about applying Philosophy skills to myself and my own career. Not easy, but genuinely useful. I mentioned in my previous post the importance of being comfortable with ambiguity and sometimes my career direction has felt incredibly ambiguous. I’ve barely known what I wanted to do on occasions, let alone how I wanted to do it and eventually I reached a point where I decided to critically think through my motivations, ambitions and objectives and critically evaluate the merits of a range of options available to me.
This wasn’t easy – I wasn’t a natural career planner. However, when it came to changing jobs from working for a bank (Barclays) to working with banks (Management Consultant with EY), I realised that the only way I would be able to make the decision was if I critically evaluated the options and came to a logical conclusion about what was the right thing to do.
This was a long process – it took me over 6 months to decide to change jobs, but eventually I figured it out.
Why am I mentioning this? Having gone through this process once, it became much easier to do it again and the next time I took a career decision it took 2 months, rather than more than 6. Then on the most recent occasion it took only a matter of weeks for me to go through the same process. I still don’t find the process easy and I get help from certain people in my network who are key parts of my critical thinking process whom I rely on to help me think through questions and problems.
I also strongly encourage you to begin this process as early as possible in your career, particular if you find it as difficult as I do. As your career and life progresses, the decisions themselves become more complex – not just because your jobs get harder, but because your life develops and layers of complexity come in. For instance, in 2006 when I graduated I was a single guy with little or no personal or professional obligations. Now, 10 years on, my career decisions have to factor in my partner, her work locations, our living choices, the wider economic environment, the team in which I work as well as my own views. It really is a good thing that I am becoming better at applying critical thinking to my career as if I was still working the way I did 8 or 10 years ago I reckon it would take me years to instigate and manage career changes.
Other posts in this series
Business, life and careers are complex things. Sometimes you feel like you’ve got the wind in your sails and everything is great, other times it feels like you’re Sisyphus, pushing the rock up the hill, only for it to keep rolling down again. A big part of my personal and professional development has been getting comfortable with and navigating through the rough and the smooth. I do this is by applying the skills I learned in Philosophy, in particular, critical thinking – a vital tool for me that I can rely on for the big and small decisions that I have to make.
If you’ve any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org