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Our Career Lives Need Regular Career Maintenance

Written by: Britt-Mari Sykes, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Britt-Mari Sykes

Career maintenance is a proactive approach that keeps us connected to our work experiences and more engaged with the development and process of our career lives.

Diversify seminar participants casual chat after successful conference event at lounge

Our career lives need maintenance. Maintenance to monitor our growth and development. Maintenance to re-evaluate our skills and expertise at different stages of our career lives. Maintenance to build stability. Maintenance to be flexible and adaptable in managing or orchestrating changes to our careers. Maintenance for personal well-being, monitoring our motivation, and managing stress and/or burnout.

10 examples of career maintenance

  • We regularly monitor our experiences, our energy, our engagement, our motivation, our focus, and our interest in the specific work we are doing or the specific career path we are on. All of these fluctuate naturally. Integrating regular reflective practice enables us to notice these fluctuations, work with them, and make adjustments where needed.

  • We regularly (re)assess our relationship with work and career. This includes taking note of how this relationship changes over time. We can take note of prominent themes in our career lives, the approach we take to our work and the kinds of role(s) we take on with colleagues or on teams. Our relationship with work and career includes our professional identity, reflecting on the impact this identity has on how we see ourselves and its influence on the trajectory of our career lives.

  • We regularly review our definitions of fulfilling and meaningful work. These personal definitions are crafted from our experiences, the stage of life we are in, or the prioritization of other areas of our lives, and they also change throughout our career lives. Being mindful of these changes or shifts gives us valuable information on how we are experiencing our work and careers, and our levels of engagement and commitment. Once again, we can work with this information to gain perspective, identify what we value, and be more proactive in implementing change, shifting our attitudes, or seeking support before we begin to feel that our work and careers lack meaning or purpose.

  • We reflect on what we value at different stages of our career lives. We reflect on whether these values are active and visible in the work we have chosen to do, in “how” we approach our work, and in our interactions with those around us.

  • We regularly re-evaluate our skills – both natural and learned. We take time to reflect on our accumulated experiences and the unique “expertise” we are developing. We take notice of which skills are most prominent at any given stage of our career lives. And based on our work and career experiences, we assess whether we should add new or different skills to our “expertise”.

  • We open ourselves to “lifelong learning”. We take note of what is happening in the world and of the changes taking place in the job market. We take note of changes to and/or expansions in our respective professional fields. We keep track of what we may want to learn, what further skills we may want to develop, and what new opportunities may be available to us.

  • We regularly (re)assess our career goals. We distinguish between goals we have personally designed, goals that have intrinsic value, from goals that are socially or extrinsically popular. We reflect on the types of goals we pursue, the process and commitment we bring to those goals, and the experiences we have had accomplishing or abandoning them. With these insights, we can modify or change career goals that are no longer relevant to us.

  • We monitor our emotional and relational well-being. We take our experiences and our feelings seriously. We pay attention to our experiences of stress and/or burnout. We prioritize our health and integrate personally appropriate ways to ensure we are taking care of ourselves nutritionally, physically, emotionally, and relationally. We give ourselves space and time to rest and recoup.

  • We review the boundaries in our lives, particularly those between work and the rest of our lives. We actively nourish relationships, interests, and activities that we enjoy and that are separate from our working lives. In this way we can experience ourselves and our capacities in different environments.

  • We take pause – regularly - to experience the value of our lives and our career paths.

Interested in Career Maintenance? Career Counselling can help at any stage of your career life. Contact us here for more information or to book a consultation.

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Britt-Mari Sykes Brainz Magazine

Britt-Mari Sykes, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Britt-Mari Sykes Ph.D. is a Career Counsellor and founder of CANVAS Career Counselling working remotely with clients across Canada. Britt-Mari offers a reflective and strategic process to clients, one that integrates their lived experiences, values, and aspirations. This experiential approach to career counselling helps clients gain greater clarity and perspective and design practical steps towards a more meaningful relationship with work and career.



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