Back in 1997 I was working in the police force in the UK. I had a friend I’d gone to school with who had drifted in and out of a few jobs but finally landed in IT. He only had a couple of qualifications but often came to see me if he needed a reference.
At the time I was earning about $40,000. Just out of interest I asked him what his role was paying and he told me he was making $120,000. I was shocked and more than a little interested of course. I realized that no matter how hard I worked and how high I rose in the police force I’d never see that sort of money.
I embarked upon a 12 month journey to pass Microsoft certifications and I eventually attained the MCSE (in Windows NT). I was motivated by the money and I wanted a career change. I didn’t actually stop to think about what I actually enjoyed doing i.e. which type of career aligned with my values and gave me most enjoyment.
How many of us do though? I mean, we all need an income of course which means getting a job but beyond that how much thought do we put into our values, goals and career?
My first glimpse of this was when I worked for a small service management company who also had a carefully planned career progression for all employees. After the first year you were asked to choose from three career paths, technical, management or service management (project management/ITIL). I had to give a lot of thought to what I wanted the most.
When we are working contrary to our values everything seems like a huge effort and there is no joy to be found. I experienced this during my MCSE studies and then for the CCIE lab which took up 18 months of my life (I failed the lab). It took a huge amount of will power to pick up the books and study. When I discovered what I actually enjoy doing it felt effortless.
It actually happened by accident for me. My entire team had been told by Cisco that our jobs were moving to a third world country and we were being made redundant. I fired off an email to a company I’d done some training with and offered to teach a networking course for them. That launched a brand new career for me, new companies, websites and several best selling books.
I don’t regret all the technical training I did because it gave me the knowledge I needed to launch my training business. What I did wrong of course was jump into many months of wasted studying for things I wasn’t really that interested in. We only get one run at life so why not choose something we enjoy?
Of course, we all have bills to pay and other financial responsibilities but the ideal solution is to find something we really enjoy doing but which also pays well. I had to work in a few different jobs and hit several dead ends before I found my purpose. In general terms you can still choose from technical, management and service management but within each of those streams there are hundreds of sub-categories.
Do some research, write down what is important to you, scope out the type of salaries available and then go for it. Course correct as and when necessary.