"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

Photo: Getty
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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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