When helping clients to identify what it is they most want from their working lives, most people bring up the subject of what they would like to earn or what they perceive they should be earning. It's a fact of life that most of us feel under rewarded financially at work. As a career coach, I find you can waste a lot of time and do a dis-service to clients by focusing on this aspect.
This is because research consistently shows that in hindsight the majority of people, reflecting on their careers wish they had chosen more rewarding work over careers which they thought paid well.
Similary, people are overly concerned with status or position. Many career counselling sessions start with a client's frustration at not being promoted. What is usually behind this annoyance is a desire to move up the hierarchy in the belief that this will bring increased power and happiness.
Sometimes this is truly what a client wants and they want to focus on strategies that will convince their managers to promote them and after completing several coaching exercises to establish that this is what they want, then fair enough, we focus on this delivery.
But more often than not, what emerges from the career coaching questions is a desire to be more in tune with what they think they should be doing, if only they knew what that was.
One the easiest most direct ways of finding this out is surprising.
I have found that asking people who they begrudge or are envious of can be very illuminating.
Begrudgery is, as we all know, a form of envy. Envy is a powerful emotion that I don't think we should be ashamed of, as it hints at what we wish we had or wish we were doing.
Envy can act as a postive catalyst to spur us onto achieving things that our peers or neighbours have. House envy is one thing, lifestyle envy or career envy is quite another.
Often we confuse desire for more money and the finer things in life with the innate desire we all have to improve ourselves. It's important to recognise that we need to analyse the feelings behind our begrudgery because it helps us discover our inner motives to aid us in becoming who we want to be.
Understanding the roots of our feelings of envy directs us towards qualities that someone has that we wish to emulate, but this was hidden to us because of our shame or anger at being envious. Our guilt of feeling bad thoughts towards friends or 'frenemies' stops us from realising that it is specific traits that enabled them to achieve things we want rather than the rewards of what they have achieved, that is upsetting us.
For example, currently I envy friends who have public sector 'cushy' permanent jobs and whilst I know that what I really envy is the security that these roles bring guarantees that the mortgage and bills will be paid in turbulent times, freeing you from financial anxiety and debt.
Alternative scrutinising may reveal that actually I envy my friends stable, more plodding ways over my own mercurial ways and quickfire decision making style!
This has helped me to alert me to the fact that I need to be more careful with my money becuse I don't have a regular income. I earn good money but I blow it and need to learn not to do that. I have to have a regular savings plan and pension. This is what I need to do to create my own sense of security, not a job in the public sector because I value my freedom to act on my own impulses and direct my own diary too much to really want that cushy job.
With correct interpretation, (in the safe hands of a qualified career professional) your green monstered thoughts can serve you well!