What Is A Career Health Check?
Your career is a huge part of your life. Most people spend a significant chunk of their waking hours at work and the state of your career can have a direct impact on the rest of your life. It’s a good idea to stop and take stock every now and then to evaluate how you feel about your career and how it is effecting you and the other parts of your life. A career health check can help you to identify opportunities for improvement or even for change.
How does it work?
It isn’t rocket science and anyone can do their own career health check. You just need to take a bit of time and allow yourself the space to think. I have put together a 10 point career health check list to help you evaluate the different aspects of your career.
All but point 10 should be relevant to anyone. Point 10 is specific to people who have had a break from their career, or have had significant changes in other parts of their lives. If point 10 isn’t relevant to you, just disregard it.
Find a quiet place to think, bring a notebook so you can scribble down your thoughts and ideas and work through my 10 point career health check. It consists of a series of statements for you to consider and you will to varying degrees, either agree or disagree with them. They are designed to provoke your thoughts. After each statement I have expanded to outline what a positive response might look like and what a negative response might look like. This is merely to add a bit of substance to the intent of the statement and to prompt your thinking further. It is not intended to be a restrictive, exhaustive explanation of of the positive or negative response.
The 10 Point Career Health Check
1) My job/career has a mostly positive impact on the rest of my life.
AGREE: I have the optimal work life balance for me. I’m happy with my commute (if applicable) and my working hours. I don’t feel work-related stress outside of work and my job doesn’t interfere with my family life. I feel proud of what I do and what I have achieved and my job enables me to to the things I want to do in my leisure time.
DISAGREE: My job overshadows everything and it is making me unhappy. I don’t have the time or resources just to enjoy my life outside of work. I’m so stressed about my job that it consumes me on my days off. I am bored and/or burnt out and my unhappiness is overspilling into other aspects of my life.
2) I’m pleased when people ask me to tell them about my job and my response is positive and upbeat.
AGREE: I’m genuinely interested in what I do. I feel good about the company I work for and share the company’s values. I feel that I am doing something worthwhile so it is easy and pleasant to chat to people about it.
DISAGREE: I hate it talking about what I do. I am not proud of it because I believe it is something either insignificant or that I am ashamed of. I believe that the company/ industry is perhaps unethical and not aligned with my values, so it makes me uncomfortable. I find it boring so why would I want to bore others by talking about it?
3) There are more aspects to my job that I like than those I dislike.
AGREE: I realise that there will always be good days and bad days, and there will be certain bits of my job that I am not so keen on, but that is far outweighed by all the aspects of my job that I like.
DISAGREE: The pay might be ok but my commute is terrible or my hours are too long, or maybe the commute is ok but the pay is terrible. I find that I have a long list of tasks that bore me or I find too difficult or distasteful. The people are ok but that is the only redeeming feature of the job. Overall, there may be one or two positives that I can identify but on the whole, they are insignificant when I think of all the negatives.
4) I have a good relationship with my manager.
AGREE: I feel valued and I feel that I am given the appropriate level of responsibility and autonomy to do my job. My manager is approachable, fair and supportive
DISAGREE: I am a bit scared of my manager, or perhaps I think my manager is not competent. I dread having meetings with him/her. My manager is unpredictable and I feel quite uncomfortable in their presence. I do not believe that my manager values me or the work I do.
5) I have good friends at work.
AGREE: I am working with people who I gel with. We share common goals and we have enough in common that we can have a chat about stuff other than work. We have fun while we are working.
DISAGREE: I don’t really have anything other than a formal, professional relationship with my colleagues. We rarely chat about anything other than work and we don’t have much in common. I don’t enjoy working with them because of their behaviour or their values.
6) On a Sunday evening I feel relaxed, happy and unstressed knowing I have work in the morning.
AGREE: I might be a little sad that the weekend is over, but I look forward to seeing my work friends and I don’t really have anything to worry about so I don’t feel like work overshadows my Sunday evening.
DISAGREE: I feel a sense of impending doom creeping up on me on a Sunday. Most of my day is spoiled because I am worrying about work or dreading my commute.
7) On a Monday morning, I wake up looking forward to getting to work and feel motivated by the day and week ahead.
AGREE: I enjoy what I do and I like thinking about everything I am going to achieve in the coming week. I feel refreshed and positive and ready to get back to it all after the weekend. I know I will have an interesting and fulfilling day.
DISAGREE: My heart sinks as soon as the alarm goes off. I fantasise about winning the lottery and never having to go back. I might toy with the idea of calling in sick because I just can’t face it. I feel sluggish and tired and feel like I am dragging myself to work and know I will be counting the hours until it is home time. There is nothing interesting to look forward to at work and at best I am bored, at worst I am extremely stressed and unhappy.
8) I know where I’m headed next and longer-term with my career.
AGREE: I might not know the exact job I will do next but I believe I have options and potential to grow and broaden or progress my career and I know how to make it happen. I don’t feel stuck or lost.
DISAGREE: I don’t know where to go from here. I am stressed and unhappy and want to change but I don’t know what or how.
9) If I could go back in time to when I left school or university, I would for the most part have made the same career decisions / followed the same career path.
AGREE: Everyone would probably make some changes if they had a ‘do-over’ but broadly speaking, I would follow the same education and career path and make the same big decisions. There is nothing I would change that would make much difference to the career I have now.
DISAGREE: I often dream about being able to go back in time and make different decisions at key points in my life. I’ve ended up somewhere I don’t want to be and don’t know how to change it.
10) I’ve had a break from my career and I’m ready to go back / Something significant in my life has changed, but my career still ticks all the right boxes for me
AGREE: I am looking forward to picking up where I left off. I feel confident and positive about returning to what I was doing before and I believe that it will still give me the work/life balance that I need now.
DISAGREE: I really wasn’t happy doing what I was doing before I took a break/things changed and now I am dreading going back. Perhaps my circumstances have changed enough that what I was doing before will now negatively impact on my life. I need to do something, either for financial reasons or for my own peace of mind and fulfilment, but I don’t know how to work out what to how to make it happen.
Hopefully the statements gave you food for thought beyond just agreeing or disagreeing with the statements. In particular, if you disagreed, it’s a great idea to really spend some time identifying WHY you disagreed. If you disagreed with one or more statement, the next step is to decide what you want to do. You have various options.
1) DO NOTHING
You may have disagreed with one or more of the statements but decided on balance, that you can live with that and that there is enough that is positive that you don’t want to spend the time or energy making changes. This is a perfectly valid decision. It is your life and your career to manage. Just remember, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you will keep getting what you’re getting.
2) MAKE SMALL CHANGES
You may have disagreed with some of the statements, but it is possible that there are quick and easy fixes. For example, you may struggle a little with work/life balance because you have a long commute. But your company is open to flexible working so you are planning to ask to work at home for some of the week, or to adjust your hours.
3) MAKE BIGGER CHANGES
You may have disagreed with some of the statements but on the whole you feel you are in the right career. It may be that you are ready to progress your career and want to apply for a promotion. Or perhaps you like your career but you just don’t like the company or manager you work for, so wish to apply for similar roles in different organisations or sectors. These are fairly significant steps and it may be useful for you to talk through with someone what your options are and how you might go about it. A coach could help you think through exactly what you want to do and how to make it happen.
4) MAKE A TOTAL CAREER CHANGE
You may have disagreed with several statements and have realised that you need to make some fundamental changes. But perhaps you don’t know what you can or want to do, or where to start. You would really benefit from having someone to coach and guide you through the process of working out where to go next and what your action plan is.
How can I help you?
If you think that you need to make bigger or fundamental changes to your career, I can help you with my career coaching programme. My programme is designed for those who want to prepare to take the next step up, or to progress their career in another way, or for those who want to fundamentally change their career. I am a qualified coach with additional qualifications in career management and HR. I also have c20 years experience in HR, mostly working in resourcing, talent and career management. Find out more about me.
I would love to have a free, no-obligation chat with you about your goals to see if we might be suited to working together. Just get in touch to arrange a time for a free 20-30 minute phone call.