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We don’t just want to succeed at work in 2021…

Diane Hall


Succeeding at life

Imagine going to a social or professional event and meeting someone new (can you remember what that felt like, pre-Covid?!). One of the first things you’ll have naturally asked, after their name, perhaps, is ‘What do you do?’

‘Everyone you meet always asks if you have a career, are married, or own a house as if life was some kind of grocery list. But no one ever asks you if you are happy.’  ~ Heath Ledger

Compared to generations passed, life is more than just work and play. We can reach achievements through our hobbies and pastimes just as much as we can in our career. We put greater emphasis on enjoying a healthy relationship nowadays, compared to previous generations—maybe because 42% of all marriages end in divorce. With a better understanding of our physiology, we prioritise our health much more than our ancestors.

Success can mean different things to different people. To some, as has been the norm for many years, success comes down to the wealth they acquire. To innovators, success may equal the impact of their inventions/creations on our day to day lives. To those working in the healthcare sector, it may represent the lives they save/improve. To those who run their own businesses, it may be the freedom their enterprise gives them to manage all the other commitments they have in their lives, e.g. being at home, spending quality time with their children; looking after a parent; being able to spend time doing something they enjoy.

There are so many ways for us to spend our time that, for some people—a feeling made more acute by the pandemic—work is not the be all and end all that it may have been a few generations ago. We also want to be good partners, good parents, good friends, good colleagues…good people. We want to experience what life has to offer—everything from huge, unforgettable occasions to recognising and embracing its small pleasures.

Being in control of their destinies is what prompts many people to start their own business. Some people spend years as a ‘wantrepreneur’, planning their enterprise. Wantrepreneurs aspire to make their own decisions when it comes to the work they do, rather than be managed by someone else. They want to take the credit for what they produce, rather than it be swallowed up in the activity of the department they work for. They want to feel more creative and have a well-rounded skills base, than simply turning up and doing the same thing, day in, day out. Wantrepreneurs are named appropriately, however; these people plan and talk about their business endlessly but fail to actually take the first steps towards entrepreneurship.

That said, the pandemic threw a curved ball into the mix. Perhaps the record number of new start-ups in 2020 included wantrepreneurs finally taking matters into their own hands after furlough/being made redundant—who knows?

It’s true that we can be anything we want to be in 2021. But that doesn’t necessarily revolve around what we do for a living.

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