Creating a meaningful career: what’s next?

How do you get to your version of career success?

Women’s network Allbright has found that – as a result of the Covid 19 crisis – 25% of women are setting up new businesses, and 61% of women want to find themselves a new career. 

Another survey* found that women’s definition of success – at this moment in time – is personal satisfaction and fulfilment and the ability to always keep learning. 

Because women – next to their day job – have three other jobs to do: looking after children, running a household, and looking after elderly parents (in law). They don’t feel they have the support – from partners or their employer – to make this work. Which makes aspiring to a C-suite level position – at this moment in time – an uninviting prospect. 

Now, apart from the fact that it appears that men are never asked how they combine their ambitions with running a household (that’s a topic for a whole new blog!) it makes you wonder: 

If so many women are aspiring to a more meaningful career, through their own businesses or in a new career, how do they get to their version of career success? 

Or, probably more importantly, how do you get to your version of career success? What is your version of career success? What does having a meaningful career actually – well – mean?

What is career fulfilment?

According to Roman Krznaric’s book How to Find Fulfilling Work career fulfilment (or career happiness) is: Meaning + Freedom + Flow:

Meaning can mean money and status, but what is more likely to give you long term career happiness is being able to use your talents, supporting a cause you feel strongly about or following your passions. 

Freedom is the flexibility to do the work in the way you want: without being micro-managed, with a good work–life balance. Whatever freedom means for you. 

And ‘flow’ is to be in a state of such absorption in the task that you’re involved in that you forget all about time!

Understand your definition of career success

‘Okaaaay’, I can hear you think. ‘But what does that mean for me?’

It means that it all starts with you!

What is it that you’re naturally good at? What can you do well – without thinking too much about it? What would you always do? 

And also, what is important to you. What are your values? What needs to be in place for you to be happy? Knowing what your values are will make it easier to create a working environment that you love. 

And finally, what do you really – really! – love? Because, if you love doing something you are likely to be good at it too!

Knowing what’s out there

You only know what you know. 

If you’ve worked in a corporate environment you don’t know that there is such a thing as a permaculture consultant, or what goes on in a laboratory. You may look longingly at people who write books and stand on stages and write their own plays. You can’t understand how people got into setting up their own fitness business or how they fit in being an actor next to their day job. (Although if you want to find out more about how women do this, you may want to read my Inspiring Career Stories).

And that is because these worlds are unknown to you. You’ve not experienced them. You’ve not gone in that direction. Working in the corporate world seemed the safe option, the sensible option. 

And what you don’t know about you can’t get yourself a career in. 

Which is why it’s so important to investigate. No, not by googling. But by being curious. By going out there, talking to people, finding out what’s out there, trying something out, volunteering, job shadowing. Seeing if it’s for you. 

And by having a bit of fun along the way! You’re out to find the career you love, you may as well enjoy the journey!

Designing your career

So, you’ve come out and you’ve realised that what you’re really good at, what you’d always do, is not an actual job. Should that stop you? Not at all! 

Fifteen years ago being a blog writer wasn’t a thing, and it certainly didn’t make you any money. 

Writing your own book was for the elite, for those people who were ‘chosen’ to be published. Now you can self-publish and sell your book. 

And location-wise? Well, the current crisis has shown that we can all work at home very adequately. That a wifi-connection is sufficient to keep you connected. Which means that everyone is now mobile and can do their work from anywhere!

Increasingly people are designing their careers the way they like it. Working as an employee, permanently or in fixed-term contracts, full-time or part-time. Working as a contractor, where you get paid a (good) day rate. Building your own business where you offer your particular set of experiences, skills, goods and services to clients. Or a combination of all of this in a portfolio career. 

Making it happen

And then finally it is about making it happen. Making a plan. Making a successful, well-planned, transition towards your new career. Being held accountable for making progress. Supported by your family and friends. 

If the Covid 19 crisis has taught us anything it is that change can happen in an instant. And that there is no such thing as the ‘new normal’. We’ve learned that instead we will need to make our way in a world that’s always changing. 

It also means that you can (and should) take responsibility for your own career: by becoming completely clear on what you want and need. By opening your eyes to all the possibilities that are out there. And by designing and planning your career and career move. 


More About Tineke Tammes

Tineke Tammes, founder of Tineke Tammes Coaching specialises in supporting experienced professional women in making career transitions into work they love. Tineke has over 25 years corporate experience, the last 12 of which as a Business Change Manager coaching and supporting people through – often impactful – organisational changes.
She is an ICF Certified Professional Coach and works independently as a Career Coach and as a Career Transition Coach for an outplacement organisation.



*Women in 2020 survey: Choosing to move up the career ladder, or not – Kathryn Sollman

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