Personal Motivation – career and country choice on family

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 - career change, career coaching, career management, career planning, economics, Employment


Personal Motivation

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Derek asks: I have recently moved back to the UK after living overseas for 7 years, mostly in New Zealand and Australia. There were several reasons why I returned to the UK, one was to build a better relationship with my son. He lives with his mum & partner in a small south-west town. Another was to finish my NCTJ journalism exams and maybe get some volunteer media work.

I spent about 6 weeks living in the same town as my son when I arrived back in the UK & looking for a job. The IT market was dead so I applied for other types of work. I was offered a job in another town, an hour train journey away, working in a Costa Coffee outlet. That same week I was offered a short-term IT contract in London which I decided to accept. This has now  turned into a full-time position, but I am absolutely sick to death of IT, and have decided to make a change for the sake of my mental health. Right now I am studying for a couple of NCTJ exams in news journalism via the internet. This approach has been good because I’ve kept the costs down whilst getting an insight into reporting.

But I’ve noticed that in order to get work-experience a lot of newspaper outlets are tied to local colleges. This has dulled my motivation. I did apply for volunteer work at the local paper where my son lived without luck. Also, working full-time during the day and then studying at night is draining, which has led me to think about going back to full-time study. I’ve been thinking of ditching journalism and getting into a more realistic but rewarding career, hence a health science degree of some kind. The post-graduate in nursing in London would have been a good solution. I fancied mental health nursing putting degree in psychology to more use.

Although I would love to build a better relationship with my son I am also, selfishly, some have said, thinking about myself. But, I don’t agree with that analysis fully. Life isn’t that simple.

I am definitely leaning towards a return to NZ sometime in July. I realise that my relationship with my son will not flourish as I might have wished but I also have to take into account my own peace of mind. Maybe in a another few years time I can get that relationship back on track. I have been chipping away at a journalism qualification in my free-time, but due to the credit-crunch and acceptance that I probably won’t be able to break into this very competitive area, I have decided to rethink everything. (I can’t even get a voluntary position to get experience). So, I decided to apply for a 2 year post-graduate Nursing course in London. I was thinking about doing a paramedical degree because I have done volunteer work on ambulances. But i’ve been told a nursing degree is more flexible than a paramedical degree and you can always do an ambulance qualification at a later date.

However, because I have not been living in the UK for the past 3 years I don’t qualify for a bursary until 2011, so that’s not an option, yet. I also don’t qualify for funding for a degrees in paramedicine because I already hold a degree in Psychology. I have been thinking about moving back to NZ where I can study a nursing qualification without any problem. This is OK, but I have a 14 year old son in the UK as well. If I move to NZ I probably wouldn’t see him as much as I do now (which isn’t a lot cos I lve in a different part of the UK).

My question then is : What the should I do?

  • Carry on working in IT for another 3 years – slowly going mental – until I qualify for an NHS bursary?
  • Return to NZ and study there?
  • Forget nursing and concentrate on Journalism?

At the moment I am seriously thinking about going back to NZ. Thanks – Derek

In answer:

I have been reading this and thinking: “Hmm, interesting!” I hope this is not too hard, but here goes:

  1. Your life should be number1 priority in your life, your work should be number2 at best
  2. If we accept that premise, then your son should figure pretty highly. I am assuming here that as you were able to move back to the UK town where he lived, you have a pretty good parenting relationship with his mother and have kept up any maintenance payments
  3. However, on moving back you moved away for first part time work, and then full time work. It is not a surprising situation – a friend is a divorce coach, and she will tell you that people put their financial stability first, and their kids second. Plus, your son is now 14, and really his own man – its time for him to define the relationship as much as you, and the role of father is probably quickly moving to the past over the friend of the future. Most children want a relationship with their parents, so you just have to facilitate what he wants now

Having addressed the family issue, lets move to the work issue. It seems to me you have three work options, which in income terms rate:

  1. IT – work record, main income
  2. Journalism – enjoy, semi-skilled, limited income
  3. Medical – past skill, possible interest

You also seem in your responses seem to have rated them in that order – but suddenly medical comes to the top as the problems of journalism employment become a reality versus the income opportunities currently gained (via IT). Plus you think nursing will mean no more hassle with finding work.

Just a thought here, but nursing on average pays 25% less than IT. Secondly, last year some 3000 nurses were shed from the NHS, as the reforms of the late 90’s having reduced the waiting lists were rolled back to an extent due to budgetary pressures. The recession and the need to pay for the resulting debt won’t make life in the NHS easy for the next few years.

Much as though you dislike IT, what is it about IT that you dislike? It pays well, and its an expanding industry. If you figure out what you dislike about IT, could it be that those same traits are evident in the other career choices? Logically, you could make a small change in your IT career – get a PRINCE Project Management qualification for instance, possibly paid for by an employer – be paid more, have more flexibility, and enjoy life a bit more? Plus you could achieve that in say 12weeks, as opposed to the 12months to be earning in journalism, or 36months to reach a similar income level in nursing?

You can be successful and always employed at any career you want, you just have to be committed to it. Seems to me the choice of moving to the UK to spend more time with your son was a wholly honourable one, but the reality of work has taken a bite into that vision and made you question where you want to go/do? Sit down with some freinds, be honest with yourself, and I think the situation will resolve as to which life and career choice suits you best. You then have the best and most stable platform on which to build a future relationship with your new friend, your son.

Good Luck!

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Derek’s response:

It’s an interesting point of view, but I don’t agree with it.  Note : I’ve had a week from hell (I was actually supposed to be on holiday today but my leave was cancelled at the last minute yesterday evening), and my views are bound to be skewed a bit.

I have been talking this over with friends & family as well and they have all agreed that I should go back to NZ.  I don’t want to live in this country any more. I’ve had a guts full of it. I have decided to move back to NZ to pursue a paramedical degree.

It’s not an easy decision. But I hope it will work out. I guess I’m putting my relationship with my son on the back burner. It would have been good to build a better relationship but economic reality is stacked against me. In NZ I can easily move out of soul destroying IT work and fund a return to university.

When I think of doing this sort of work for another 3 years whilst I become eligible for a post-graduate nursing diploma I feel full of dread. I actually become angry and depressed at the though of it. I get resentful. Why can’t I have a job I like?

In a couple of years time when I am requalified my son will be 16 and I am hoping that he will want to come and visit me in NZ, maybe even study there. If I stay in England, I’ll end up working in IT for another 3 years in London, doing a job I hate. I can’t do it any more.

What don’t I like about IT? Where do I to start? The language of a typical IT office. The culture of geekdom. For example, I heard a couple of programmers, earlier, talking about tweeting, twittering & star-trek, loudly and with obvious relish, and all I wanted to do was throttle them both. Being in a pod all day long, staring at a VDU. The empty meaningless of it all.  The abject boredom. Especially the boredom.

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Further advice:

It seems Derek you have found your answer. The more stable the platform you have in your life, which you enjoy, the better father you can be to your son. And if the answer is in NZ, as long as you explain to him that you love him, but that is where you are happiest, then all should be well.

My question was: what was it that makes you hate IT? And you have answered that. My only thought is that if you decided to go into nursing, that something like research won’t suit you: sitting in a cubicle playing with Petri dishes listening to researchers talk about DNA streams; is much akin to sitting in a cubicle listing to geeks talking about twitter.

It sounds like what you are saying is that you want/need changing people interaction – which probably translates into a ward job or A&E. The only concern then is that those sorts of jobs – and I hate to use the pun here, butt… – start at the bottom! There is also a definative limit before promotion will take you out of activity and people and into management: which means going back into a cubicle! So either you are choosing a ceiling on your career, or waiting for the cubicle to reappear.

I think you would be wise to spend some time with someone who could assess your motivations, and see what are true traits versus emotional currents. Most career coaches have access to such tools, and exploring and chatting that through would seem wise before investing in a move/three years+ of training. You may also find that although you technically qualify for the grant in NZ, they may not take you if they are concerned/confused by your career choice – and they probably will use the same motivational tools to assess you.

One item of note on your future plans should be this weeks UK budget. Seems from all the ecnomic commentators, that we are in for at least one UK parliament of NHS cutbacks, if not two. That tends to suggest any plan based on returning to the UK after three years training for medical work is presently flawed.

A good life is primary to a career choice. But sorting out priorities and motivations in making the right career choice will enable you to avoid continual life disruption.

Good Luck!

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