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Harnessing Your Restlessness

Leveraging your restless nature to build an amazing career.

Through the noise. Photo Credit: Monique Loebler

I am an incredibly restless person! The kind of woman who treats multitasking like a religious doctrine, is always jet-setting off to foreign countries and lives in a constant state of ‘what if’. Unfortunately, many people view restlessness is a negative quality, particularly for young people pursuing a career. Some people think I lack direction or the commitment to complete any one task end to end. I mean, without a doubt I’ve had some days where I’ve been burnt out, broken down or lost in the perils of an existential crisis, but that’s only somedays. Most days…I feel amazing! It’s that ongoing curiosity, hunger for new challenges, drive to be better that wakes me up in the morning. And the fact that I can’t and won’t sit still has given me some amazing opportunities like the time I hiked to Everest Base Camp or worked in a developing country for a month. The more I think about it, the more I think my restlessness is my greatest asset!

But I recognize my style isn’t for everyone, and although I wont change who I am to fit a position description, I recognize the need to manage my restlessness to pursue my career. I’ve developed some strategies to achieve this: 

1. Choose a Change-Positive Career

My partner is an accountant, bless his cotton socks, and he absolutely loves his job. The reason he loves it is because it provides him exactly what he wants, a routine. His role consists of a set of predictable tasks, spreadsheets and invoice payments that he can perfect and improve, over time. If you’re someone who’s easily frustrated doing the same tasks day in day out, someone like me, then accounting is not for you. Why work in a career, company, country that forces you into a routine? There are plenty of organisations that are constantly on the edge of technological, industrial and social change. Why not work in a capacity where change is embraced, where your wandering mind and curiosity adds value to the business? Both you and your employer will be better off!

2. Pinch Your Passion

No I don’t mean steal someone else’s life ambition, I mean condense yours. Narrow your passion down into a few key activities and commit yourself to tackling them for a fixed period. I work in sustainability, and for me mitigating my negative impact on the environment is what I believe is most important. There are a lot of ways I could do that; build a worm farm, start a Leaders in Environmental Action Forum (LEAF 😉 ), develop a partnership with Keep Cup and distribute reusable coffee cups throughout my place of work (I’ve got a few ideas). Instead of going into battle on every front, I’ve made a mind-map, highlighted the top two actions and am focusing on pursuing those actively for the rest of 2018. You could also pick a monthly theme if you’d like a little more differentiation. Each month tackle something new, but give yourself the whole 28-31 days before changing tune.

3. Embrace the Unknown

I have a personal rule to visit at least one new country every year. I find stumbling through a new culture so energising, I learn new things, meet wonderful new people, have experiences that empower me to be more creative and employ new ways of thinking when I return home. The best part though, it hasn’t negatively impacted my career at all, in fact it’s helped catalyst it into a new an exciting company before I’ve even completed my degree. With more people organisations today continuing to value experience over education there’s no better time to test yourself and explore somewhere new. Use what your learn back home, the lessons are often invaluable.

With technology providing us so much access, it’s easy to forget how big and vast this world is. There is infinite opportunity and unlimited potential for us all to invest in. Never compromise who you are for the sake of a job. Live your passion as wild and restlessly as you please!

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- MARCUS AURELIUS

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