"Most people don't put much thought into chosing a career."

Matthew Jennings, author of The Career Bible, explains why this is ridiculous.

Finding your dream career is a lot of bother. 84 per cent of people are dissatisfied with their choice of career (CBS News 2012). That figure is ridiculous. It was ridiculous when it was 80 per cent in 2010 (Deloitte) and ridiculous when it was 41 per cent in 2005 (Wall Street Journal). Do you know that most people spend 50,000 hours of their lives at work? That is a lot of hours. I find that most people don’t put an enormous amount of thought or effort into choosing their careers.

“Why are you a quantity surveyor?”

“I had a summer job when I was 16 - with a friend of my dad’s - and sort of fell into it from there.”

I took more trouble choosing a breadmaker… To really be happy at work, your career choice needs to match your values. If you are driven by "spirituality, creativity, wisdom, generosity and compassion" you are unlikely to be happy in banking. If your deep drivers are "ambition, wealth, success, respect and leadership’" you probably shouldn’t be a social worker. Simplistic, I know, but true.

The other thing that astounds me is that when people do know what they want to do, when they know exactly what their passion is, they don’t know how to achieve it. They can’t write a decent C.V, or find a job that isn’t being advertised. They don’t know how to prepare for and perform at interview.

I have seen the "perfect" candidate fail to get their dream job so many times, because at some point during the recruitment process they cocked up.

It is easy to fix job hunting skills and tools. If someone is prepared to put the hours in, it’s quite simple to move through the recruitment steps successfully. The hard bit is identifying your passion and being honest with yourself about what you want – and what you are prepared to give up to get it . If you really want to be head of a global company you will be unlikely to be at your child’s sports day or the nativity play or anything outside of work (at least until you are at the top). If you want to be a musician you will be lucky to also live in a big, fancy house.

I spent some time looking at what makes top sportspeople different to us. It boils down to the ability to focus and a driving ambition to succeed. They put the extra hours in, sacrifice loads of things and will push on when everything looks to have gone wrong. The reason they do this is that they have found their passion and know that nothing else will do. They don’t see it as work. They love it.

In order to succeed in finding our dream careers we need to put the same effort in as professional sports people. We need to find our passion and then get a job/ career in that industry. For 50,000 hours spent at work, I think it’s worth it, This isn’t a new way of thinking.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Confucius (551 – 479 BC)

The Career Bible is written by Matthew Jennings and Shaun Van Wyk and combines in depth career coaching skills, recruitment know how, top level sports psychology and experience in climbing the corporate ladder. The Career Bible is available at all good bookstores. More details at www.thecareerbible.com

Photograph: Getty Images

Matthew Jennings is the author of The Career Bible

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Who is the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier?

The former French foreign minister has shown signs that he will play hardball in negotiations.

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator today set an October 2018 deadline for the terms of Britain’s divorce from the European Union to be agreed. Michel Barnier gave his first press conference since being appointed to head up what will be tough talks between the EU and UK.

Speaking in Brussels, he warned that UK-EU relations had entered “uncharted waters”. He used the conference to effectively shorten the time period for negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the legal process to take Britain out of the EU. The article sets out a two year period for a country to leave the bloc.

But Barnier, 65, warned that the period of actual negotiations would be shorter than two years and there would be less than 18 months to agree Brexit.  If the terms were set in October 2018, there would be five months for the European Parliament, European Council and UK Parliament to approve the deal before a March 2019 Brexit.

But who is the urbane Frenchman who was handpicked by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to steer the talks?

A centre-right career politician, Barnier is a member of the pan-EU European People’s Party, like Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A committed European and architect of closer eurozone banking integration, Barnier rose to prominence after being elected aged just 27 to the French National Assembly.  He is notorious in Brussels for his repeated references to the 1992 Winter Olympics he organised in Albertville with triple Olympic ski champion Jean-Claude Killy.

He first joined the French cabinet in 1993 as minister of the environment. In 1995, Jacques Chirac made him Secretary of State for European Affairs, teeing up a long and close relationship with Brussels.

Barnier has twice served as France’s European Commissioner, under the administrations of Romano Prodi and José Manuel BarrosoMost recently he was serving as an unpaid special advisor on European Defence Policy to Juncker until the former prime minister of Luxembourg made him Brexit boss.“I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job,” Juncker said at the time of Barnier, who has supported moves towards an EU army.

 

Barnier and the Brits

Barnier’s appointment was controversial. Under Barroso, he was Internal Market commissioner. Responsible for financial services legislation at the height of the crisis, he clashed with the City of London.

During this period he was memorably described as a man who, in a hall of mirrors, would stop and check his reflection in every one.

Although his battles with London’s bankers were often exaggerated, the choice of Barnier was described as an “act of war” by some British journalists and was greeted with undisguised glee by Brussels europhiles.

Barnier moved to calm those fears today. At the press conference, he said, “I was 20 years old, a very long time ago, when I voted for the first time and it was in the French referendum on the accession of the UK to the EU.

“That time I campaigned for a yes vote. And I still think today that I made right choice.”

But Barnier, seen by some as aloof and arrogant, also showed a mischievous side.  It was reported during Theresa May’s first visit to Brussels as prime minister that he was demanding that all the Brexit talks be conducted in French.

While Barnier does speak English, he is far more comfortable talking in his native French. But the story, since denied, was seen as a snub to the notoriously monolingual Brits.

The long lens photo of a British Brexit strategy note that warned the EU team was “very French” may also have been on his mind as he took the podium in Brussels today.

Barnier asked, “In French or in English?” to laughter from the press.

He switched between English and French in his opening remarks but only answered questions in French, using translation to ensure he understood the questions.

Since his appointment Barnier has posted a series of tweets which could be seen as poking fun at Brexit. On a tour of Croatia to discuss the negotiations, he posed outside Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships asking, “Guess where we are today?”

 

 

He also tweeted a picture of himself drinking prosecco after Boris Johnson sparked ridicule by telling an Italian economics minister his country would have to offer the UK tariff-free trade to sell the drink in Britain.

But Barnier can also be tough. He forced through laws to regulate every financial sector, 40 pieces of legislation in four years, when he was internal market commissioner, in the face of sustained opposition from industry and some governments.

He warned today, "Being a member of the EU comes with rights and benefits. Third countries [the UK] can never have the same rights and benefits since they are not subject to same obligations.”

On the possibility of Britain curbing free movement of EU citizens and keeping access to the single market, he was unequivocal.

“The single market and four freedoms are indivisible. Cherry-picking is not an option,” he said.

He stressed that his priority in the Brexit negotiations would be the interests of the remaining 27 member states of the European Union, not Britain.

“Unity is the strength of the EU and President Juncker and I are determined to preserve the unity and interest of the EU-27 in the Brexit negotiations.”

In a thinly veiled swipe at the British, again greeted with laughter in the press room, he told reporters, “It is much better to show solidarity than stand alone. I repeat, it is much better to show solidarity than stand alone”.

Referring to the iconic British poster that urged Brits to "Keep Calm and Carry On” during World War Two, he today told reporters, “We are ready. Keep calm and negotiate.”

But Barnier’s calm in the face of the unprecedented challenge to the EU posed by Brexit masks a cold determination to defend the European project at any cost.

James Crisp is the news editor at EurActiv, an online EU news service.