Why you don't have to niche down in your career

So following on from the myth of Happily Ever After let’s talk about careers and more importantly, niching down. So most people’s careers look something like this: school, post education, university, master’s degree, maybe Phd, a few little odd jobs along the way until you leave higher education and begin your career. Yey! Or you skip the whole Uni phase, go straight to work, bounce around a few different jobs, find one you like/are good at (not necessarily the same thing) work your way up the ladder until you find somewhere that feels comfortable enough to stop. But then you have to specialise. Competition’s coming up that ladder. The pressures on. Suddenly experience isn’t enough. You need verification but a degree isn’t enough you need a MBA, or a masters or a PhD. Self employed? You need to find your niche, your tribe, be a leader, shine out in the crowd. Find your one big thing that you’re an expert in and sing it to the world.

But actually, that’s not necessarily true. For starters not everyone is academic. Richard Branson, the world’s most famous business man, didn’t even finish secondary school. And we all know how well he did. And niching down, creates it’s own problems. My husband had a friend at university. A Phd specialist who was studying the effects of drugs on mice. Yes, he was a Pinky and the Brain drug pusher. His research was ground breaking, fascinating. He is one of the cleverest people we have ever met. And do you know what he does now? He works for the Post Office!

courtesy of www.imgflip.com

courtesy of www.imgflip.com

His niche, his field of genius, his area of expertise, was such a small field that he couldn’t find a job. And the only reason he got the job in the post office was because he left it of his CV. Shocking isn’t it? But do you know what’s more shocking? He loves his jobs. Because after years of studying and having all this pressure to meet deadlines, follow the rules, jump through the loop holes and be buried in research and books day in and day out; now he just goes to work and comes home. No pressure, no complicated decisions. He has space not only to think, but also to breathe. Is he highly successful? By regular standards no. He’s not rich or powerful or doing a life changing job. But by my standards, I’d say he was pretty damn successful. He is happy, he does a job that fulfils him and has a nice lifestyle because of it. He gets his wages at the ended of the month and he’s happy. But he had unfortunately followed the carrot. Do this because you’re good at it, it will make you successful. Everyone else is doing it, you should too. But did it make him happy or would those years have be better severed doing something else?

Now as an entrepreneur obviously it’s important to have a niche in some respect. Because if you don’t know what you have to offer, you’ll have nothing to sell. The same goes for your career. But being solely focused on one path isn’t all you have to be. It’s ok to be multi passionate because it makes you more versatile and more importantly, more employable. Recruiters love speaking to people who have taken a year out to travel because humans by nature love to explore. Why? Because it gives us new insights, new ways of thinking, new ways of looking at the world around us. Ideas and creativity are the life blood of the business world and if you are a creative type, it’s ok to pursue that. My niche (because of all the weird, wonderful and terrifying things I’ve done) is to help people through change. To help find their passion in life and pursue their own happiness. Do you know why? Because when you shine, you light up the people around you. And that’s what I love. Lighting people up. So it’s ok if you can’t find a box your skill set fits into. Or if you feel you don’t have the right amount of qualifications. I have lots of qualifications and I studied all of them because I was absolutely fascinated by the subject. Which is great. But I met so many people at Uni who were studying just because they were expected to have just one more qualification to their portfolio, even if that qualification had absolutely nothing to do with their dream career. Which is absolutely maddening. Why get into all that debt to get a piece of paper that you don’t even want in the first place? I used to panic because I had all these random qualifications and skills. But what I didn’t realise (because I couldn’t see my future path) was I needed all these skills to make me a good coach. Because I pursued things that made me happy I developed a life long passion for learning but  I never fitted into pigeon holes. And if you don’t fit into them either don’t worry. You just can’t see how they fit together yet because you weren’t meant to be squashed into a box. You my friend, were meant to fly.