Taking control of your life: Are you in the driver’s seat of your life’s work? Or have you given that control away to someone else to manage?
I often use metaphors and when I’m coaching someone through a career fork in their road, one I often use is “who is driving your bus”?
This goes right to the question of who is really in control of your life and work, and whether you have given that to others, as many of us so often unknowingly do.
As employees we are usually passengers on a bus and often we don’t know where the bus is being driven to, do we? Or we might not like how the bus is being driven or where it is going at that time. In that analogy, what are our options:
- We can whinge (that’s being at effect)
- We can choose to influence the driver
- or we can change buses,
- or we can get ourselves into the driving seat of our chosen bus,
- or we can “get our own bus”.
Here’s my challenge (remembering the 11th commandment): have you kept control of the things that really matter in your life’s work or have you allowed others to overly influence that?
In case you can relate to this, I’m not being critical of you here. It can so easily be happening to us as we work our life day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. Everything is so incredibly busy these days. We seem to be driven by relentless deadlines and schedules and expectations to deliver. All the time. With mobile phones and Internet / Email we are “always switched on” and always accessible, aren’t we?
Do you find you sometimes look back on a year and wonder: “where did it go”? “Why am I still just at the same place I was last year”? It seems to be quite tough to find any time “just for me”. Time to plan. Time to reflect. Time to put some control back into our life so we aren’t driven by others, but that we drive the bus how and to where we want it to go.
So just check in with yourself: are you keeping yourself at the top of your skillset? Are you watching and understanding what is happening in your company, in your profession, in your career, in your market, in your industry? What are you doing about that?
When Ford and Holden recently retrenched over 600 people each here, a lot of people thought: “those poor workers”, didn’t they? You bet the affected workers thought that too.
But think about that market for a while. Wasn’t the writing on the wall that “the time of the large gas guzzler car was over”? That with petrol prices going over $1 and then over $1.50 a liter here, people would turn to smaller engines? I know as a consumer, I did.
A small percentage of those workers who were positive, pro-active and responsible would have recognised those signs and made arrangements to transition out of that environment and into a more sustainable one while they still could – and on their terms. That’s what I mean by being in control. They were “driving their bus”.
I think the days of a “job for life” with a company are over. Current generations of school leavers will probably make up to 10 work, if not career changes during their working life. Companies won’t and can’t take that responsibility for the careers of their staff. Neither should they, is my belief.
Might I suggest that if you find yourself sitting in a bus as the passenger, particularly if you don’t like where it is going, that you take control. Either influence where the bus is going, maybe by getting yourself in the driving seat. Or get off that bus and find a more appropriate one to get on. This is your life and your career. Please don’t give the control of that to anyone other than yourself.
Next week we will look at the related concept of “bring and fetch”.