I’m sitting here in the most beautiful little café in Jumeirah Islands Dubai, suddenly very aware of life’s little twists and turns; the chance encounters, the moments of clarity, and the decisions (whether small and incremental, or sudden and expansive) that change the course of your life.

Two years ago I was here in Dubai on holiday with our family for the very first time. Life was good, we had a beautiful home in the Aberdeenshire countryside, business was going really well, everyone was happy and healthy, and we were enjoying some time in the sun. Six weeks later I was up a ladder in my boiler suit, filling and sanding facias and re-pointing the stonework, getting the house ready for sale!

And do you want to know what swung it? Apple crumble. No, I’m not kidding…

Picture this...

Day two of our holiday, sat outside having dinner in the restaurant at our hotel, surrounded by people we initially believed were also holidaymakers, listening to a band playing covers of Oasis and U2 (bloody good too by the way), tucking into a Sunday roast. Then we realised (because I was lugging in), that most of the families around us actually lived in Dubai, they weren’t on holiday! This was where they came to on a Sunday night to get together – everyone looked relaxed, the kids were having a great time, and they invited William to play too. It just felt right…and the apple crumble sealed it.

When something just feels...'right'

The world is changing; some people stand still while others move at a fearsome pace. There’s nothing wrong with either, so long as it’s aligned with what you truly want and you’re not doing things just to keep others happy. Knowing what you want, or at least what you don’t want, is the first step - the scary part comes next.

But what happens when it doesn’t actually feel scary? For me, that simple fact did scare me – it made me sit back and question whether or not I was making the right decision; why doesn’t this terrify me, why does it feel ‘right’? Well, simply, because it was, and is.

What does this have to do with work?

Andrew and I have been recruiting accountants in Aberdeen since 2006 and 2007 respectively, so I guess you could say we're veterans now!? And with that experience comes a thorough understanding of what people want and how their needs are changing.

The concept of career longevity is dying. Yes, while many of us long to find a company we can grow with, be part of their journey and to stay for a long time, others are shunning this completely and opting either for a career freelancing/contracting, or seeking meaningful roles to learn from at pace, and move on within a few short years (sometimes less). While we all have our own personal opinions on this, my professional one has shifted over the years and I’m now seeing the significant benefits to both. And while I might get shot for saying this, there’s one simple truth….it’s not really about how often you move jobs, it’s about why, and your personal brand and reputation (stay tuned for my next blog about that too!).

The focus of careers has also changed, with far more emphasis on personal and professional growth, rather than simply a place you go between 9-5, 5 days per week, and to pick up a pay cheque at the end of the month. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was bad, sometimes someone new started and the dynamic changed, but you stuck it out and carried on until retirement. People don’t really go in for that any more, do they?

Conversations we have on a daily basis with accountants clearly show that there’s been a seismic shift over the past few years. Jobs need purpose, they need alignment, and they need to fulfil a deep sense of accomplishment both personally and professionally, otherwise people just aren’t interested. We’ve obviously seen the negative side of this in Aberdeen over the past few years post-Greta/Covid. We’re hearing that the numbers of enrolled students in oil and gas related subjects is down, and likewise we’re talking with people at the outset of their career point blank refusing to enter into the industry.

Ups and Downs

Like life, work will have its ups and downs. You’ll have bad days, bad weeks, bad months and bad quarters. But that’s not really a good enough reason to throw in the towel. Or is it?

Like everything, you need to go with your gut. Sometimes it’s a big event, other times it’s little things that build up over time. And on other occasions you’ve possibly been presented with something that is simply too good to turn down.

But, as the quote says “don’t give up on what you want most, for what you want right now”. Basically, don’t seek out the quick fix, or dopamine hit (whether emotional or financial) if it’s going to negatively impact your end goal.

Your career will have inevitable changes and setbacks, but here are some of the signs to look out for which might signal it’s time for a change:

  • Stagnation in learning and growth
  • Misalignment of values
  • Lack of engagement and passion
  • Physical and emotional toll – your job and the environment you’re in has a huge impact on your health and wellbeing
  • Market opportunities – booming industries and sectors can encourage change

Introspective Work

If you haven’t done so already, this is probably as good a time as any to take a look at your career goals – what are they? Do you have them and if not, why? Is your current role/employer/path aligned with those goals? If you could click your heels together and find yourself in the perfect place, where would that be (yeah, yeah ok…we’re not talking white sandy beaches or glacial mountain peaks…I’m talking about ‘work’). Do you have a mentor? If not, is there someone you trust/respect that you could reach out to for a chat?

This introspection and self-analysis isn’t easy; it’s something that both Andrew and I work on constantly, and it’s a bumpy road.

While I always encourage people to take their time when it comes to making big life decisions, sometimes it just feels ‘right’ and you need to act on it. Like me and Dubai for example. Starting conversations early and exploring the different options available to you (and yes, that includes staying where you are at times), is important. You want to be the one in the drivers seat, making the decisions for the right reasons; the flip side of that is waiting until you’re unhappy which almost always lands in you accepting the wrong role, with the wrong company out of desperation. And then what? You end up back where you started.

This is where we come in...

You don’t know what you don’t know, and sometimes paralysis can set in. A friend and I were having this conversation the other day; whether you feel like you have too few options, or you’re bombarded with too many, your body immediately gets into fight or flight mode and sometimes, you end up doing nothing.

Fortunately, we see people making positive changes on an almost daily basis: The General Manager who realises that they miss being a Finance Director. The experienced accountant who decides to go back into practice after 10 years in industry. The corporate Controller who joins an SME to handle a role more closely aligned to their skills, experience, and values. The recently qualified CA moving to New Zealand to gain international experience. The career minded accountant who has been stuck in the same role waiting for their boss to retire, finally having the guts to join a new company.

Taking the first step is always scary and it can be difficult for many reasons. If anything in this blog has resonated with you, please do reach out. I’m always happy to have a virtual cuppa and a chat to help you work things out in your head, or if you’re ready to take the leap, Andrew can help to scope out your options and guide you through the process.