At the moment, we are building the data set in order for us to understand and build a ‘norm’ group. Once we have 500 people who’ve completed this audit, we’ll be able to say how your scores compare to a wider population. For now the general rule of thumb is the lower your score, the more that is an area of concern for you currently. If you click on the + sign, you’ll be able to access more information on why that factor is important, what further areas you could explore to understand why you’ve given it a lower rating as well as some coaching ideas and thoughts of what you can constructively do to improve things. There are links to exercises and further materials as well as curated links to other websites and videos which will give you more insights and useful information.
Select the dropdown menus below to obtain more details for each section. You can focus more on the sections where you scored lower for additional insight.
For best results, please view your results on desktop.
"My current work is well-suited to the things I care about" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Most people want their work to reflect at least part of what is important to them in life, but this changes as we age - so the capacity of our work to deliver what we want will likely change too.
Reviewing what you want at present and in what ways your current work is delivering it - or could deliver it - is an important step in considering your future.
High fit with work is typically underpinned by a number of things, in particular:
- I have the right skills for my kind of work
- My work gives me a sense of purpose
- I find the work I do rewarding
- The work I do reflects my values
Which of these are true for you? Which might be missing? What could you do about it?
Explore Fit With Work activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Having the right skills:
Three decades of intense research into human motivation shows mastery of a skill is important to feeling a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment.
Put simply - if you are great at your work, you are more likely to feel fulfilled because you can offer something of use and value to others.
If you are not confident that you have the right skill set, it could be because:
- You are new to the work and are still developing the skills.
- You have assessed yourself too harshly - you might have the skill, but not the confidence in it. If so, you might want to reflect on this to see if it’s a broader pattern of lacking confidence.
- You still have some key areas to develop.
There are also plenty of opportunities to take charge of your own learning – try exploring the Free Massive Open Online Learning Courses to see what excites you.
Having a sense of purpose:
A sense of purpose in your work has been shown to be an important driver of satisfaction, and it’s very personal – each of us will find purpose and reward in different places.
There is nothing wrong with getting to a place in life where you can comfortably check in and check out of a job, go home and enjoy time with family and friends.
Purpose and reward are strongly linked to satisfaction but, if your role is meeting all your other needs, then you may feel it is perfectly OK to do a good job and leave your work at the door, potentially giving you time and space to find your purpose elsewhere.
Feeling a sense of purpose or reward is related to the effort and skill you put in. They are feelings you earn – they are not ‘found’. Put simply, if you do not care about and don’t put effort into what you do, you will struggle to feel a greater sense of reward.
Seeing a link between your role and the meaning and value it gives others can instill a sense of purpose in you.
The famous story goes that the cleaner sweeping the corridors at NASA saw their role as helping put people on the moon.
Work and your values:
Your work values reflect the things you care about. They cover a broad range of things from how much trust/autonomy you feel you have to more basic needs like a feeling of job security.
Reflect on what is important to you and how that is either fulfilled or missing from your work. Is there anything you can, or want to do about that.
'Through my current work I have a positive impact on others' - you scored X on this question
Why do we ask this?
Research shows that an important contributor to motivation and satisfaction at work for many people (especially in mid and late career) is knowing that others benefit from what they do and ideally having a connection with those beneficiaries.
The benefits to others of what you do may be immediate and personal, or more general and slow-burning. It is valuable to review how others benefit from what you currently do, and whether that is what you want.
A number of things are likely to underpin your sense of contribution, in particular:
- I can identify how my work contributes to making the world a better place
- I see the people who benefit from my work
- People are better off, materially and/or in their well-being, as a result of my work
- Others tell me I have a positive impact on them via my work.
Which of these are true for you? Which might be missing? What could you do about it?
Explore Contribution activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Making the world a better place:
It’s great to feel that your work is contributing in this way. However, lots of people feel that their work is ‘neutral’ in this respect, whilst some people feel that their work is making the world a worse place.
There can be lots of reasons for not feeling that your work contributes to making the world a better place. It helps to understand the reason so you can choose what to do about it.
Here are some possible reasons:
- The work has changed from the job you took originally.
- You’ve changed.
- The role met different needs when you started to where you are now.
- Your work may contribute, but you’ve not really asked this question to find out how it makes a difference.
- You haven’t changed, and the role hasn’t changed but this doesn’t really bother you.
"I feel valued and supported by others in my current role" - you answered X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Feeling valued and fairly treated can greatly affect how deeply a person feels connected to their job.
Social scientists call this embeddedness, and it often has positive effects for well-being. Certainly, it is better than the alternative.
Nevertheless, being embedded can sometimes make it harder to free oneself from a job that is less than ideal.
Research shows that many people believe that their positive relationships at work would be hard to replicate elsewhere, but this is often unduly pessimistic.
A number of things are likely to underpin your sense of feeling valued and supported, in particular:
- My immediate boss is supportive and fair
- My colleagues are generally congenial and constructive
- The wider organisational or institutional setting upholds the value of what I do
Which of these are true for you? Which might be missing? What could you do about it?
Explore Bonds activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Having a fair and supportive boss:
Working with people who are not fair and aren’t supportive is stressful and difficult.
If this is your situation, you are not alone: people frequently leave their jobs because of a poor relationship with their line manager.
Whilst we certainly acknowledge there is a vast array of poor managers out there, we’d also ask you to spend a few moments getting into your manager’s shoes to understand how they might feel about their job.
It could be time for some open conversations with your manager and their and your role. Waiting and hoping’ for change is rarely a successful course of action.
If you feel your colleagues aren’t congenial or constructive then it can lead to you feeling the environment you work in is toxic and difficult. This can make it harder for you to enjoy your work and to perform well.
If you want to address this, it’s worth trying to work out the underlying cause – relationships are complex, so there may be many and varied reasons for things not working.
You might be able to address things directly with your colleagues to explore what is going on,
If talking to your colleagues has not worked, you may have no option but to talk about this with your manager and ask for some support. Usually, they’ll ask you how you’d like the situation to be handled, so try to have an idea for what you think would be the best approach.
In some cases – and often as a last resort - a situation is serious enough to warrant external support, such as mediation. Before escalating any complaint you have at work, it is with being aware of any grievance policy and procedure your employer has in place.
Feeling disillusioned with your organisation as a whole:
It might be you have great colleagues and a great boss, but the wider organisation does not provide an ideal environment and you don’t feel valued and supported in general.
This feeling may be driven by many things such as unachievable sales targets, feeling unrecognised by top management, having to work with bureaucratic systems, or being highly stressed because a department is under resourced. These things may be issues beyond your immediate control.
Organisations can go through difficult periods, so it is worth gaining perspective. The issues you are experiencing could be ongoing, endemic issues or they could be short-term. In any case, try to explore what the reasons for the issues might be.
Your managers and colleagues might be experiencing the same issues. Talking about them might help you to arrive at a collective solution to them – or at the very least, collective recognition that you are all in the same situation together.
"Overall, I would say I'm content with the work I do now" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Over a century of research has shown that overall job satisfaction is a very important contributor to life satisfaction and positive mental health, so it’s a goal that’s worth working towards.
Research has also shown that people differ in what aspects of their job they care about the most, so working through this questionnaire is designed to help you identify the issues that may or may not contribute to your overall work satisfaction.
This work audit is all about helping you to find work satisfaction in the short and long term. It also deals with sustainability and the work-life interface. Even if you are satisfied now, is that likely to be maintained in the future, and does it come at a cost for your life outside work?
The following questions are helpful to review regularly – perhaps three or four times a year:
- Overall, I am content with the work I do now
- If I am not content, I am taking action to address this
- Overall, I expect to feel content with my work in 6 months
- If not, I am taking action to address this
- Overall, I expect to feel content with my work in 12-18 months
- If not, I am taking action to address this
"My current work is likely to be engaging and stimulating for me in the years ahead" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Motivation is expressed by how hard a person tries to do their work well, how long they go on trying, and whether they focus on what they are doing.
It is not always easy to stay motivated through a whole career. Lower engagement and motivation is often linked to under-stimulation or over-stimulation.
The level of stimulation is partly about the job, the level of variety and how the role is evolving or changing. There are also some interpersonal differences at play.
Some people are content to find a niche and stay with it, others are more restless, constantly seeking what’s next.
To the extent that it is possible, looking ahead, to anticipate both one’s own reactions and the job requirements that can help you find and stay in work you find motivating.
This theme picks up the issues around being under-stimulated. If you want to explore the risks of over-stimulation and burnout, please go to theme 6.
If you have scored this theme below a 3, it is likely to be due to some or all of the following:
- I worry that in the future my current work will become boring to me
- I worry that I will not feel energised by my current work in the future
- I hope that I am not still doing this work in 3-4 years’ time
Which of these are true for you? Which seem to be the biggest concerns? What could you do about it?
Explore Sustainable Motivation activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Will your current work become boring to you?
However much you like your work, it’s possible after 20 or 30 years to have had too much of a good thing! This is not to imply that you have become lazy, rather that your work is not as stimulating for you as it might be. Of course, plenty of people are in that position, some for all of their working life.
However, it is easier to maintain an extended career and to keep a job if you are motivated. The chances are that your job will become more boring for you over time, especially if it has a predictable pattern to it (though of course some people like that). Awareness of possible future boredom can help you to be proactive about future options.
You might want to consider what you can do to inject some variety into the mix. Alternatively, in consultation with other stakeholders – your manager for example - you might try to “craft” your role so that it contains more of what stimulates you and less of what doesn’t.
If the line of work in general is in danger of losing its shine for you, then it becomes important to consider which elements of it you like and want to keep, and which bits you really don’t expect to find interesting going forward. This might help you to investigate whether there are niche roles within your current line of work that major on the bits you think you can retain an interest in.
"As I get older, I think I will continue to be able to handle the demands of my current work" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Most people think that work has become more intense over the last two or three decades, as economic competition and technological change both increase.
As working lives become longer, it may become difficult to sustain this level of intensity. Moreover, research shows that people’s capacities at work tend to change with age - some for the better and some for the worse.
Therefore, as well as considering motivation (see theme 5), it is necessary to assess whether you think you will be able and willing to take on the demands made by your current work as you get older. If you feel unable to meet the demands this may create undue strain or burnout.
On the other hand, your work may require attributes that you expect to develop further as time goes on, thus keeping it within your capabilities.
Confidence in handling demands is typically driven by mental, physical and attitudinal attributes.
As we get older, it is important to be aware of stereotypes about older workers and recognise them for just this – stereotypes that don’t define us! We therefore encourage you to recognise the strengths that you will develop over the coming years.
- Mentally, I can continue to handle the pressure in my work for the foreseeable future
- Physically, I believe I will be able to continue to cope with the demands of my role
- I think that I will stay positive rather than becoming jaded and cynical in my work
- I think my current work will increasingly play to my strengths in the coming years
Which of these are statements are true for you? Which are not true? Which do you want to do something about and what could you do?
Explore Sustainable Work activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Handling pressure and demands
If you have strong doubts about handling the pressure or coping with demands in your role, you may need to take some steps to mitigate problems further down the road.
These changes can involve changing jobs or making changes to your job – working different hours or shedding some tasks in your job for example.
A change of working environment might even help. Some people are generally more likely to stay positive, others to see things through a more cynical lens.
If you anticipate becoming more cynical, then it may help you to look at the alignment of your values with those of your organisation and how to stay curious and to keep learning. ‘curiosity’.
Playing to your strengths
As you get older, some of your skills are likely to change, some improving, others potentially reducing. In addition, the demands of your work or sector may change.
This happens a lot with our clients who love an area of their work (e.g. hand drawn design) and the market is moving far more towards developing new skills (e.g. digital design).
If things are changing in your organisation or sector, you may be in a position to benefit from your current organisation by developing the skills you need to stay current.
If the changes are fundamentally altering the role to something you don’t like and can’t see yourself developing into, then it may be time to evaluate who else needs and wants what you can offer.
"There is likely to be continuing demand for my current work in the future" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Careers are forged where the supply of labour meets the demands of the labour market.
Even declining parts of the economy need some workers, but it’s a whole lot easier to find opportunities in buoyant areas for which there is likely to be continuing demand, especially if there are not too many people with the necessary skills trying to get into it.
So, it is worth considering how secure your work is for the foreseeable future. Not just your current job, but the kind of work you do.
Work security for the future may come from a number of places.
If you’ve scored this theme low and want to explore it, then the following prompts should help you to understand where the challenge might lie:
- My work is in a part of the economy experiencing a good rate of growth
- The world will always need people to do the kind of work I do
- Apart from routine updating, the skills and activities in my work will continue to be required
- The supply of suitably skilled workers is less than demand in the kind of work I do
Which of these statements are true and not true for your type of work? What does this tell you about the future demand? What might you want to do about this?
If you are working in a field which does not have a predictable and stable future it is worth being proactive and thinking your next steps through earlier rather than later.
Can you connect with others in your sector perhaps in other organisations and sanity check if your suspicions chime in with those of others? If you want to check what projections are for growth or change in your sector, you can use this tool: https://www.lmiforall.org.uk/careerometer/
It could be worth discussing with your current manager whether there are ways you could acquire more job security where you are now. Perhaps there are particular skills you could learn that will make you more valuable in your current role.
"My current work is likely to offer me the flexibility I need to balance my work and life in the years ahead" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Work-life balance is a significant concern for most people.
Reasons for wanting to make sure we have room for our life outside work differ and change over time. It is not an issue confined to the early child-rearing years.
With age, your need to be more flexible is likely to increase: caring responsibilities or simply your own physical needs to maintain your health through exercise are arguably more important as you get older. Poor work-life balance usually increases the stress on a person and may also negatively affect their relationships and fulfilment in work and (especially) out of work.
Research indicates one of the most important factors predicting a long and happy life is the quality of the close relationships you have in your life: jeopardising these for work over a long and sustained period is unwise and likely to reduce the ability to stay productive at work in the latter part of your career.
Work-life balance now and in the future tends to be about time, space and flexibility.
If you’ve scored below a 4, the following statements may help you understand where your opportunity is:
- I currently feel overworked: my work leaves me with insufficient time and energy to do things I want to do outside work
- I worry that in the future, I may not be able to make space in my life for any other commitments that may arise (for example caring for elderly relatives)
- It’s not easy for me to adapt my work to give me flexibility in balancing work and life commitments.
Which of these statements are true and not true for your current work? What does this tell you about the opportunity you have to improve your work-life balance? What might you want to do about this?
If you are already feeling overworked and you’re already compromising on what you are doing outside of work, you may need to take steps to make work more manageable.
If you have a partner, it may be worth reviewing together how you allocate your time and responsibilities. If you have enough money, you might consider buying in help at home.
You might decide to look for a job of a similar kind but with somewhat less intensity. Many people, as they age, search for jobs which give them less (not more) responsibility. If there is currently someone in (or close to) a job you are trying to get, it may be helpful to talk to them about the demands.
It is possible that your employer may simply be asking more of you than you can give for much longer. It may be appropriate to speak to your manager or someone else in your workplace about what needs to change in order to make your work sustainable and what can be done about it.
Is it possible that you are consistently going ‘above and beyond’ and that you are putting the pressure on yourself? This can be quite a common challenge as we try to ‘prove’ ourselves as someone who can be relied on and is always willing to help.
If you’d like to explore your options around flexible work, have a read of this article which summarises and takes you to various links all government backed and publicly available but pulled together in one helpful resource: Making a Flexible Working Request: Helpful Links and Resources
If you have caring or other commitments that are likely to arise then there is some positive news.
Many employers have policies, such as flexible working and extra parental leave, to enhance work-life balance. Make sure you are aware of these and take advantage of any that can help you. Men especially are sometimes reluctant to do this. In some organisations there is unfortunately still a perception that (whatever your gender) if you use policies like this, you are not serious enough about your career. However, these problems are receding.
At the time of writing, the UK Parliament has introduced a bill to make it that all jobs can be made flexible as a default option. You can follow progress on this bill in parliament here.
If you find yourself in a position where you need to care for someone, you can learn more about your rights here.
Adapting your work to suit your needs:
The nature of your work may not be something that can easily be changed (e.g. being a doctor – patients don’t stop getting ill in the middle of the night!).
If you struggle already owing to the nature of your work, only you can assess how important this is going forward and how you might want to address it.
Are you making the most of the opportunities you do have to adapt your work? Do you know what the opportunities are, and have you had a conversation about them with your manager?
What could hold you back from taking advantage of things like flexi working, mental health days, un-paid leave, part-time working?
"I make an effort to control my work and career" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Much research has shown that exerting control over the shape of your work and life is associated with career success and satisfaction.
Being in control of your career means being willing to take responsibility and action rather than leaving it to luck or other people.
Whilst employers may offer development-enhancing opportunities, the responsibility for making sure our work and career take the form we want lies principally with us.
We cannot control everything of course, and we may experience disappointments along the way.
To take effective action, it is helpful to know what you are trying to achieve and how well you are doing. In turn, this requires independence of mind, so that what you are trying to achieve reflects your own values, and not those of people in your workplace, or society as a whole.
Nevertheless, exerting effective control is often best done after seeking inputs from people with knowhow and wisdom.
Research helps us to focus in on several things in this theme. The statements below are associated with people who take control of their work and career:
- I seek autonomy in how I go about my work
- I decide for myself what is good for my career, even if it is different from conventional wisdom
- I tend to make things happen, rather than wait and go with the flow
- I actively engage with mentors and people to help guide me
Which of these statements are true and not true for your approach to work and career? What does this tell you about the opportunity you have to improve your level of control? What benefit would that bring you? What might you want to do about this?
Autonomy is a very strong predictor of job satisfaction. Consequently, if you feel you want more autonomy, it’s important to do something about it.
If you don’t act, it is likely to be extremely stressful and that is very bad for your health.
Making decisions and making things happen:
If you are not deciding for yourself what is good for your career or not making things happen rather than going with the flow, then it implies you are not actively thinking about and acting on your career in ways that will work for you.
If this is the case, you are at risk of finding after time that the market has moved on and the skills you have may increasingly become obsolete.
Making your own career decisions requires:
- Clarity about what you want and why
- Thoughtful decision making. Some self-assessment tools for career decision-making can be found here.
- Commitment to get reward - making your own career choices takes an investment of time, effort and thought. It requires you to conduct research, try things out, learn new things. If you expect it to be done and dusted in 5 minutes, you are likely to be disappointed!
Research indicates that many people find it helpful to have a mentor, especially when the relationships spring up spontaneously rather than being organisationally managed.
Having mentors and guidance:
Mentors can, but do not always, offer a range of benefits.
One basic distinction is between career-related benefits such as helping you develop skills and contacts, and so-called psychosocial benefits, such as a listening ear.
For most people, an effective mentor is someone who has been there, done that and is willing to help you. A key point is not to hand over decision-making responsibility to a mentor. Use a mentor as a sounding board and source of useful insight and information, but remember they are not all powerful!
There are lots of other people in our lives who can be our ‘career helpers’ at different points. They may be the ‘listening ear’, the catalyst for a change, the introducer, the realist. All of these people have a role to play.
"I maintain and continue to create a good network of contacts" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is a cliché but there is some truth to it.
Of course, it’s important that the people who know you are suitably impressed with what they see, and that they are in a position to support your career in the ways you want.
Research shows that the most effective social networks for career purposes tend to be those where the people in the network do not form a single tight group, where your relationship with each person in it is more than nodding acquaintance, and where relationships are reciprocal, i.e. you are willing to help others if asked, as well as expecting help from them.
By the way, be careful not to think you have little or nothing to offer others. This is very unlikely to be the case.
Without a good network, there is a danger of operating in a silo. A network is not just about asking for help – it’s about getting a wider perspective on your market and having a good idea about what trends and issues are shaping your sectors.
Networking is an ongoing process – great networkers invest time in growing their network through new contacts and in deepening their network through time spent with people.
Some jobs are more socially based than others and make it much easier for the networking to occur.
The following statements capture this:
- I maintain contact with people who work in a relevant field
- In the past year, I have personally initiated new connections and made new contacts
- In my current work, it is easy for me to make new connections
Which of these statements are true and not true for your approach to your network? How important is your network for your future? Are there changes you want to make?
Explore Network activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Maintaining and building networks
One of the potential advantages of mid-career over early-career is that you have had the time to build up a good social network and hopefully also a reputation. The challenge is to keep it up.
In mid-career there is a tendency to start to value the relationships one already has over and above making new ones, which helps feelings of social connectedness but can be a handicap in career terms. People vary considerably in their comfort with networking.
The following things can hold you back:
- Confidence. You don’t feel comfortable approaching people you don’t know, and you worry that they won’t think you’re worth talking to.
- Don’t know where to start. It takes time to build and maintain your network. Given that many of us are ‘time poor’ it is helpful to be planned about it.
- Give and take. In our conversations about networking, we find that some people struggle with the idea of ‘reciprocity’ mentioned above. Some people tend to focus on the ‘give’, others on the ‘take’. You need to invest time in both sides. Both ethically and practically, it is important that you contribute to other people’s careers as well as expecting them to contribute to yours.
Networks in the context of your current work environment
If you work within a tight knit group with few interfaces with people in other organisations or departments within your own organisation you will need to work harder at developing a network of people who you can help and who can help you.
The first step is to explore existing networks and connections that you could join. Here are some places to look:.
- LinkedIn. Most people would benefit from having a profile; without a profile you aren’t being found. LinkedIn also has interest groups, so you can follow different organisations, engage in debate and become part of a community of people with interests like yours.
- Facebook will also give you an indication what’s going on in your sector and some potential groups. Many people don’t associate work groups with Facebook, but you’ll find groups for flexible working (35,000+ members), Business Studies teachers (4700+ members), Professional HGV drivers (48,000+ members). You name it – you probably work in a sector where there is a group or network you can connect with.
- If you are thinking of starting your own business or working for yourself, try looking at Enterprise Nation who offer a vast array of support.
- Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – you will live in an area with a ‘local enterprise partnership’ that may fund all sorts of skills training options. LEPs provide a good way to connect with businesses that are of significance and importance in your local area, or an area you would like to live and work in.
"I am proactive in maintaining a strong personal reputation" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
People often talk about the role of luck in their career, without realising that they may have played a significant part in making their own luck.
Several other questions, such as Work Security, Control and Networking contribute to our ability to position ourselves to take advantage of opportunities when they occur, and indeed even help to make them occur in the first place.
Because access to opportunities often depends on the decisions of others, positioning also has a strong social element: ensuring that key people have the impression of us that we want them to have.
For a field of work you might want to enter, self-positioning is likely to be harder than in your current type of work but that doesn’t mean you are helpless.
If you are proactive, you are likely to be positive about the statements given below.
- I know what to do to ‘stay ahead’ in my field
- I am liked and respected by others with whom I work
- I make an effort to be visible to the right people at the right time
Which of these statements are true and not true for your approach to your career? Are there changes you want to make?
In many ways, these are the antithesis of the approach that says, “keep your head down and you will be noticed.”
Some people worry that doing these things is about self-promotion and being political. In our view it isn’t – it’s a fundamental part of maintaining your employability. However, if you just promote yourself and never give anyone else credit, then you may find people don’t appreciate it!
Explore Self-positioning activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Staying ahead in your field:
An important career task is to make sure that we can find suitable work when we want to. This is employability. There are two ways to look at employability – the ability to find work outside your organisation, and the ability to find work within your organisation.
External employability is all about understanding the changes that are likely to happen in your field in the coming months and years and making sure you are ready for them.
Internal employability is about understanding the informal career rules in your workplace, gaining insight into the ‘career deal’ so you can stay relevant.
It’s important to understand the changes happening in your field and work out how might you acquire the necessary skills and experiences to keep pace with them. This might be possible through projects or training opportunities within your current job.
It’s also important to reflect on how people you know have been promoted, or have left for a better job, or have been given that dream assignment in your current organisation that you would like for yourself.
Perhaps it’s the specific work experiences and roles they have accumulated; perhaps it’s because they know a key person, or they heard about the opportunity early.
Being liked and respected can be important:
Sometimes, being liked and respected can be a more important factor than ability in whether you stay in or change jobs. Without being tough on yourself, is there any way you can check out your personal brand reputation in this respect? You might find a mentor or trusted confidante in your workplace who can help you with this and consider ways in which you can be viewed more favourably.
Being visible to the right people at the right time:
An important part of career management is knowing how to maximise your chances of being in the right place at the right time. Often this is not a matter of luck.
People who position themselves skillfully make sure that if and when a job opportunity comes up, they have the right attributes to be considered for it.
They will also have made sure that other people at work know about these attributes, so that they seem like a natural candidate for the role. Despite codes of practice and legislation for equal opportunities, many jobs are obtained informally through social networks, so being acquainted with a lot of well-placed people who can tell you about possible opportunities is important.
If you want to find out more about how to make your own luck, you might be interested in this book by John Krumboltz and Al Levin.
"I am confident that financially, I am providing sufficiently for my future" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
The financial arrangements and resources you have in place can help you to feel more secure when unexpected events happen, or when planning events. This in turn can make your ability or willingness to make significant career decisions easier or less stressful.
Examples of planned or unplanned events that can, or will happen include; losing your job, taking a career break to study, getting a job with less hours or lower pay, illness or injury, stopping paid work altogether. Encountering, or jumping off into any one of these can be made easier if you have made sufficient financial provisions.
There are a range of state benefits you can call upon. However, these benefits are not necessarily available to everyone, and the state pension you eventually get is likely to be low in relation to the amount of money you are used to living on.
Financial planning matters and helps to give you choices about your future career. These statements may help you to dig a bit deeper:
- I have enough money readily available to cover an emergency if one happens
- I have arrangements in place to provide sufficient income for my needs if I become unable to earn money by working
- I am confident that I have the most suitable arrangements in place to fund a time when I choose not to earn so much (or any) money by working
- I am confident that I have the most suitable arrangements in place to provide for expected life events or objectives when needed If you cannot confidently say yes to these statements, then you may need to have a major re-think of how you manage your money.
For people thinking about making changes to their career, roughly 30% find they cannot afford to do so. Brave Starts members can click here to explore Financial Security activities and capture any commitments in their action plans.
Have a look at this website that aims to help match you with a suitable financial adviser: https://www.unbiased.co.uk/about-unbiased
We recommend you choose an advisor registered with the FCA – if you don’t, you have no protection as a consumer. https://register.fca.org.uk/s/
Most financial advisors do offer you a free one hour consultation. We recommend you use this opportunity to speak to several and evaluate your options.
It is important to understand the difference between ‘restricted’ and ‘independent’ financial advisers and you should be clear as to which type of adviser you are talking to.
A ‘restricted’ financial adviser may only advise you in relation to specific financial products available from specific companies.
An ‘independent’ financial adviser is obligated to offer unbiased advice that is not influenced by financial product providers or the type of remuneration they get.
Everybody’s circumstances and objectives in life are different. It is important that your financial adviser takes account of your short, medium and long-term objectives in life – as well as for your money. They must also take account of how comfortable you are with investing money in different ways – often referred to as your ‘risk profile’.
Your financial adviser should also make their charges, and the charge associated with their products clear to you. These charges can include:
- Initial advice fees
- Initial or ‘implementation’ charges relating to the products they recommend
- Charges for any ‘ongoing’ advice arrangements you may want
- Annual and other charges relating to the products they recommend
- Any ‘exit fees’ relating to the products they recommend or service they provide should you want to stop using them
The advice you get should be the most ‘suitable’ for your objectives and circumstances. The fees you will be subject to should be clearly explained to you before you enter any arrangement with an adviser.
Check your UK state pension entitlement at this website: https://www.gov.uk/new-state-pension/how-its-calculated
Key contacts for pensions in other European countries can be found here: https://www.pensionseurope.eu/full-members
And if you want to do further research on investing and financial management in general, this is a helpful, accessible and fun kind of website: https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/about-boring-money/
"I have a clear idea what work I want to be doing in the years ahead" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Research shows that being clear about what work you most desire and why is an important attribute in career development. This is especially the case at times of personal transition.
Without this clarity it is difficult to know what direction to travel in or what goals to set. It may be that your current type of work (even if not your current job) can offer what you want if you manoeuvre yourself appropriately.
If you are considering changing to a different type of work, take a careful look at whether it offers what you are looking for. Do not rely on stereotypes and assumptions.
Uncertainty about oneself is not confined to young people, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. In our own research with 5535 people (all aged 50+) the most significant factor (almost twice as much as any other barrier) was ‘having no idea what to do next’.
Knowing what you’ve done in the past does not always prepare you for what you might want to do in the future.
Often, we have competing tendencies and it is hard to be sure about which are most dominant. In fact, sometimes it simply may not be clear.
Here are some statements that capture how some people describe their thoughts on their future work direction:
- I do not know what types of work interest me most
- I do not know what I care about most in my work
- I have no idea what I want to do next
Which of these statements are true and not true for your approach to your career? How does that help you to understand where to focus your attention?
Explore Career Clarity activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Exploring what interests you most:
Work that interests one most often does so because of what it represents, and the goals which it helps to achieve.It can be useful to consider what activities you most like doing but assessing what is important to you may be a more significant thing to do first. Interest is usually the product of caring about the impact you are having, the team you are doing it with and the belief you have in the organisation.
If you are starting with a completely blank slate try keeping a diary over 2 weeks of what you watch on TV, what articles you are drawn to read more of in newspapers.
Think of conversations at parties or social gatherings and the topics that really draw you in.
There is also a useful short exercise on the governments Labour Market Information website.
Exploring what you care about most:
What you care about is essentially what you value. The results of undertaking this exercise may help to clarify what is important to you in your work life – you might find that it conflicts with or reinforces what you get from your current role.
Have a look through some of the featured jobs advertised by Reach Volunteering. Looking through the volunteer roles on this site without reference to salary or location can help to focus on activities or sectors that are of interest to you.
"I know that no matter what happens, I can rely on myself to do what is needed to pull through any situation" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Research on a cluster of concepts such as self-esteem, proactivity, resilience, core self-evaluations and psychological capital all point to the importance of having a positive sense of self.
Of course, it is possible to be unrealistically positive about oneself to the point of fantasy, but with that exception, overall self-confidence is an important attribute in putting oneself forward for opportunities, approaching challenges with a sense of purpose, and not giving up after a setback.
In general, people with high self-confidence are more likely to achieve (up to the limit of their abilities) than people with low self-confidence. They are also more likely to impress other people, so considering your levels of self-confidence is especially valuable when trying to make changes in your life.
Self-confidence is important because it affects what we are willing to try to achieve. Having low self-confidence makes career-enhancing activities like social networking seem daunting. Of course, self-confidence varies somewhat between situations. We might be confident of our ability to cook a good meal but not to change a wheel on a car.
However, to some extent self-confidence is also more general - it is something we carry round with us. People who don’t feel they have any issues with their self-confidence and may indeed be over-confident might come across as irritating and arrogant, so take heart if you feel this is an area you could develop!
We have identified four important elements of self-confidence. Clearly, these are not the only ones, but they do help us to break confidence down a bit:
- I have the necessary attributes to live a good life
- I can make things happen when I need to
- I have a track record of being able to achieve what I set out to achieve
- I have faith in my ability to bounce back after disappointments
Which of these describe you? Are you positive about all of them? If so, how can you check that you are considering risks and that you’re not being over-confident? If you do not agree with these statements, which areas would you like to look at in more detail?
Explore Self-Confidence activities here and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Having a good life
Often in the context of work, people can lose sight of the wider context and what is important to them.
Having a good life often depends on a number of things outside of work; family & friends, romance, finances, health and fun for example. Ask yourself what you care most about and what might need changing for the better.
Give yourself a mini goal of doing something about it in the next 2 weeks. Maybe fun and recreation is what you crave, in which case you might want to invite people to something which is your idea of fun and get it organised.
The point here is that you may need sometimes to remind yourself of what is good about your life and how much control you can exert over it.
Making things happen when you need to:
Almost certainly you can and have made things happen in the past. You might need reminding of times when you could. Identify some past successes and what qualities in you or your context contributed to that success. If you can’t think of any, ask people who know you well; you might be pleasantly surprised.
Another thing to do is to ask yourself is if you experience a lot of negative self-talk. Negative self-talk, is saying things to yourself such as “I could never do that” or “I tried that once and it didn’t work out so I’m not trying again”, “people don’t respect me so I can’t influence them” etc..
This is a cycle and it can become self-fulfilling. It is possible to change but it does take time as your thinking may have become habituated and it often takes someone else to point it out and help you to take action to change it.
The right kind of someone else can hold up the mirror and work with you to change the negative talk to something more constructive.
Bouncing back after disappointments:
If you really don’t feel you have the psychological resources to bounce back from disappointments, please also explore the notes to psychological wellbeing.
Disappointments are a fact of life and most of us experience times of crushing disappointment. The difference however may be others feel more able to bounce back.
"Most of the time I feel cheerful and relaxed as opposed to worried and anxious" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
High psychological well-being helps a person to see the positive elements of a situation and to take things in their stride. In that respect it is like self-confidence, but well-being also has a strong positive emotional element. It implies that we can adjust reasonably happily even if things don’t quite go to plan, and find joy in elements of life even if they aren’t the result of our own endeavours.
It is worth asking yourself why you do or do not currently feel a strong sense of well-being. What is the balance between your experiences and your own habitual outlook (i.e. your personality) in determining your well-being? What implications does that have for your future?
As with some of the other themes in this work audit, psychological well-being is a huge area! We have selected three underpinning aspects to help you to dig a bit deeper. The word ‘usually’ is important here – few people would feel like this all of the time!
- I usually feel positive about life
- I usually have energy for the things that matter to me
- I usually feel that my life has meaning
Explore Psychological Well-being activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
If you assess yourself negatively regarding the above statements this is likely to have an impact on how you see your work. It’s very difficult to feel low positivity about life and then look forward to a cracking day at work.
The causes and consequences of low psychological well-being will not be confined to the workplace. Perhaps you find work, career, and life in general something of a struggle. This is hard, as you no doubt will not need to be told. It can be changed for the better though. Small steps and positive habits can help.
"I find the thought of starting over again in something new more stimulating than daunting" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
People vary in their attitudes to change in their life. Some, perhaps boosted by self-confidence, regard it as an exciting challenge and an opportunity to learn and develop. Others find it a disturbance to their equilibrium or a distraction from achieving their personal goals.
There may also be some concern about changing status from expert to novice in a new setting. Of course, it partly depends on the specific change in question.
Finding change worrying does not necessarily mean you cannot initiate and successfully navigate it, but it’s likely to stretch your personal resources.
So, how do you feel about starting over? Which bits do and don’t bother you?
- The prospect of unfamiliar experiences worries me
- I’m not very open minded about seeking opportunities to make a change
- The reality of starting over in a junior position bothers me
Which of these statements describes you? How is this influencing your approach to your career? Which do you want to find out more about?
Explore Changes activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Unfamiliar experiences and change:
Many people feel worried by the unfamiliar and avoid seeking opportunities for change.
Looked at from a different lens, to dive into things without any fear or concern is not desirable and can create huge risk - just imagine giving up a job and embarking on re-training as a nurse, only to find you hate it!
If you sometimes feel yourself a bit paralysed about taking action, here are some thoughts to help you:
- Making a change is partly about trial and error, so don’t put yourself under pressure to get to the ‘perfect’ answer straight away. As Edison reportedly said, ‘I never failed once making the lightbulb. I just found out 99 ways of how not to make one’.
- Many of us are more likely to see the bad in things than the good, and we reward ourselves with feeling relief if we decline to do something we think might be too challenging. However, think about times in your life when you’ve been anxious about change but have successfully initiated or coped with it.
Starting over in a junior position:
This is a particularly pertinent question for the ageing and experienced worker. Work and our sense of identity and pride are so closely tied together.
With the extensions to life, we are all having to reinvent ourselves and having 4-5 lines of work over a lifetime is increasingly common.
There is evidence those who are better able to make changes to their careers are those who are not only in a position financially to do so, but who can swallow their ego and admit to others they are making a change and learning again.
If you find yourself in this position to see it as the privilege it is. Anyone who is able to admit they’re starting over and learning something completely new, is likely to attract admiration and support. If you are starting or thinking of starting a new career from scratch, you might want to practice ‘an elevator pitch’ – a short explanation – describing why you are doing what you are and the excitement you feel about that.
Your prior experience and accumulated wisdom are at least partially transferable to your new context. That can help you learn new things quicker and be valued in your new career.
"I am curious about and maintain interests in things not always directly related to my field of work" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Curiosity contributes to a person’s capacity to successfully undertake the career challenges they face.
Curiosity stimulates a person to learn more skills, know more about what is going on around them, and often, as a result, to expand their social network. Thus, it helps in becoming well-informed and well-connected, as well as contributing to a positive attitude to change.
Curiosity may partly reflect personality – what psychologists call “openness to experience”. But it can also be a learned set of behaviours.
Curiosity is an attitude of asking, enquiring, considering, exploring, stretching your boundaries rather than sticking with what’s known. How does your curiosity show in your life?
- I have hobbies and interests outside of work
- I explore topics that are unfamiliar to me and enjoy learning new things
- I keep a close watch on current affairs so I know what’s happening in the world
Which of these statements describes you? How much time do you invest in being curious and how much do you enjoy it? Would greater curiosity help you in your work and your life?
Explore Curiosity activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Hobbies and interests outside of work
Anything that offers an opportunity to view things with a different perspective, learn new things and meet different people can lead to a range of benefits – even job opportunities. Also, a hobby or interest can give you a reassuring sense of control over something when you might be experiencing a loss of control in your working life.
There clear health benefits from physical activities like golf, swimming, gardening and tennis.
Hobbies and interests can include volunteering. There are health benefits from being engaged and feeling you are supporting a cause/purpose you care about.
If voluntary work appeals to you, have a look at some of the opportunities available.
The NCVO is an umbrella organisation looping lots of volunteer bodies under one roof. Our favourite volunteer search board is Reach Volunteering.
Exploring and learning new things:
Research indicates that psychological well-being and continued success in the workplace are enhanced by an orientation towards learning, personal growth and future opportunities.
Becoming better at what you do and learning new things is not just the preserve of people in the early part of their careers. Indeed, it may be perilous to ignore personal growth and development in mid to late career.
You might find it helpful to challenge yourself to identify what would feel like progress for you in your career now. Ask yourself what learning and personal development you need to make progress.
Remember to start small and be realistic in your goals.
See the Massive Open Online Courses website for ideas on skills and knowledge you might like to acquire for your career development or learning for its own sake.
Knowing what’s happening in the world:
If you keep an eye on what is happening in the wider world around you and understand what is happening in the news, then you have some curiosity that may point to future career direction and preferred learning.
Have a think about what you’re drawn to in national or world news and how this might relate to career choices.
"I have the support and resources required to initiate a significant change in my work life" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
A person’s life context is important when considering a shift to a different type of work. Dreaming of a new kind of life is one thing, but the practicalities of whether it could really work are often quite another.
Personal career changes are likely to have implications for everyone else in your family too. Some of these changes maybe hugely welcome; others may present challenges.
Having a financial buffer or close supportive family is a very strong factor in being able to make career changes. Think about the following statements regarding your circumstances.
- The people who matter most to me will back me in implementing my career plans
- I am able and willing to take a financial hit if necessary to make a change in my work
- It would be possible for me to relocate in order to make a new start
Which of these statements is true and not true for you? What is the impact of this on your choices?
Explore Career Support activities and capture any commitments in the Work Happiness Action Plan.
Talking to a career coach:
Career support and guidance is a service that is relevant to people at any age or stage in their lives. Traditionally, it’s seen as a need when we’re young, but increasingly, as we live longer lives, the time many people seek help and guidance is in their mid life.
If you want to talk to a career coach, you are free to attend our monthly member meetings which are facilitated by a coach. You also get the benefit of meeting others in a similar position to yourself.
Coaching us an unregulated industry so, if you would like to hire a career coach, we suggest you read this for some practical guidance on how to choose one: So you think you want to hire a career coach? Read this first.
Having the support of people closest to you:
Strong social bonds are an important part of getting older. There are the bonds you have at work, but more important are the bonds you have in your life which are outside of and will continue beyond your working life.
It is important for the people who may be affected by changes in your career to understand why you are doing what you are doing and to understand how they feel about it.
The circumstances for each person are intensely personal but here are a few things to consider:
- Being open and honest about how you are feeling and the impact of staying put.
- Being clear about what sort of support you would like to receive from them.
- Understanding the likely and perceived impact of a career change on them and how to make it easier to bear.
If you feel ‘financially trapped’ we suggest that you double check that your position matches the reality.
You can do this by taking Independent Financial Advice from a Financial Conduct Authority Registered adviser.
Alternatively, you may be to see what costs you can cut. It’s easier to make changes if you can cut costs to your lifestyle.
It is no surprise that the times the most changes happen are when people similarly experience a life change – downsizing their home and relocating is the route many take to enable this to happen.
Some people experience a positive surprise when they need to make significant financial savings and find that, not only is it more possible than they thought, but also the quality of life they experience is not significantly damaged.
Relocating to make a new start:
If you are thinking of relocation, here are some quick points to consider:
- What you hope to gain from the move
- What are the downsides of a move might be
- What you need to include in your decision - financial implications, transport etc.
- How you check your options to help you make a good decision
If you feel working from home remotely is a route to which you are well suited, there are some specialist websites and recruitment platforms:
- Remote Worker
- Indeed - the largest UK jobs board and which feature jobs which are entirely remote
Remote working is an evolving concept made all the more popular after Covid-19, so you’ll need to do your own searches to stay up to date with the changing recruitment landscape on this type of work.
"I am generally in sound physical health at the moment" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Physical as well as psychological health is an important determinant of ability to remain in productive work and meet new demands such as a different kind of work.
If you have a physical disability, the statement “In general I am in good physical shape” should be answered relative to what can reasonably be expected.
Continued good health is key to staying in the workforce for a full career and building up enough pension entitlements to live comfortably in retirement. It is also important for performance at work and overall quality of life.
The statements below are designed to offer an overview of self-perceived physical health, with an emphasis on the workplace and recent/current events.
- I have no significant health conditions that require more than routine medication
- In general I am in good physical shape
- I have been out of action due to poor physical or psychological health for fewer than five days in the last year
Which of these statements is true and not true for you? What is the impact of this on your current and future work?
You may have health difficulties that are already receiving treatment and this, rather than anything you can do, may be the key to your health in the future.
If you are concerned about your health and want to take a closer look, then a good place to start is to book an appointment with your GP.
The UK National Health Service’s betterhealth website pages have lots of advice on health conditions, their symptoms, treatment and prevention.
"My lifestyle habits (e.g. diet, alcohol, drugs, exercise) are good for maintaining my future health" - you scored X to this question
Why do we ask this?
Just as it is important to provide for future financial health, the same applies to physical health. Irrespective of your current health, what are you doing, and refraining from doing, to help protect your future health?
This is likely to be important for your long-term viability in the labour market and your ability to make the sustained efforts and adjustments usually required when changing to a different type of work.
Having good health habits can contribute to future health although some people may have underlying health conditions that limit their ability to pursue some of these habits. Reflect on the following in relation to your own health habits:
- I exercise vigorously for at least 30 minutes three times a week
- I make sure I eat some fresh fruit and/or fresh vegetables every day
- Per day, on average, I drink no more than one large glass of wine, or two standard shots of spirit, or a litre of normal strength beer
- I have no habits that could damage my health - e.g. smoking, drug taking
How healthy is your lifestyle? Given your circumstances, which of the above statements, if any, do you want to do something about?
The statements above are relevant for most people with normal health. Collectively they give an indication of the care you take over your health.
In mid-career, it can be easy to let this go a bit. Work pressures, the awareness that one is ageing, and possibly declining energy can all make us less careful than we need to be. Good health habits can make a very significant difference to your ability to work well and to stay in work until the age at which you can afford to retire.
Whatever your score for this theme, you may find it useful to consult guidance on healthy living. The following section of the UK NHS website gives some good support on sustainable physical health: Live Well – NHS
Exercising and eating well:
The importance of exercise and diet becomes more important as we age because we tend to become more sedentary - so it’s easier to gain weight. Changes in our metabolism may contribute to this as well.
Getting a good amount of exercise is often easier if we build it into our daily routines. Walking briskly to and from work instead of driving or taking the bus is a good example.
Joining groups of people where you might gain the dual benefit of making new social friendships is strongly encouraged. Wherever you live there are likely to be local sports clubs and groups.
Like exercise clubs and groups, you might also find local cooking classes, support groups for smoking-cessation, weight-loss and eliminating alcohol abuse, amongst other things.
Similar comments apply to eating fruit and vegetables. You don’t have to become vegan of the year! It might be good to review what you eat in a day or week and then make a few judicious substitutions. Might an apple or a raw carrot be an acceptable substitute for a bag of crisps as part of your packed lunch three times a week? Can you have slightly fewer roast potatoes and more peas, leeks, broccoli, or whatever green veg you find acceptable?
Alcohol, smoking and drugs:
In the worst-case scenario you can become addicted to any one of these. There are services and support groups available to help you tackle dependence on drugs, alcohol and other things (such as gambling). Information about alcohol potential misuse and treatment in the UK can be found at Alcoholmisuse - NHS.
If you think you may have a looming alcohol drinking problem, nip it in the bud if you can. Whether diet, alcohol consumption, smoking or drug use is an issue for you, you might find it helpful to ask yourself what reward you are seeking from your behaviour, and whether there is any other healthier way you could achieve it.
To take a small example, perhaps you tend to snack a lot during the day - so called “comfort eating”. Identifying what you are seeking comfort from, and whether there are alternative ways of gaining comfort, might help you change your behaviour.
Perhaps you are bored with your job and want breaks from its monotony. In such a case perhaps you could reward yourself for working diligently for an hour or two by having a cup of tea and talking to a colleague in work instead of going outside for a cigarette.