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Midlife MOT: wealth, work and wellbeing
Midlife MOT: wealth, work and wellbeing

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2 What do you really want from work?

Midlife is a good point to pause and think of your job - what have you achieved, what do you enjoy and what do you want to keep doing?

The image is a drawing of a person sitting at desk in an office looking at a laptop screen. On the shelves are files and some scales. A thought bubble above the person has a ‘?’ in it.

Your situation changes as you get older, your job might become more challenging, job satisfaction may have lessened or travelling to work could be taking its toll. The values that relate to your work now may be more about work-life balance, you might want to use some time to pursue your interests, you could have caring or other responsibilities that suggest a change to your working pattern. Alternatively, your responsibilities could have reduced and you are keen to get more deeply involved in work. It is possible that you find you have the time to develop new skills or have strengths that you want to harness, you may be thinking of a change in job role but one that still challenges you.

Activity 1: Evaluate your work tasks

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes.

In this activity there are a number of factors that will help you to evaluate your current work and each of these implies what you value. You may find that there are a range of factors that are important to you which will help you think through options and ideas that you may not have considered before.

Rate the factors below in terms of importance to you, try to use the full range of scores. Copy the table or download it [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

  • 4 = very important
  • 3= important
  • 2= less important
  • 1=not important
Table 1
Factors Rating (1–4)
Making decisions, and working independently. autonomy
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Change or variety in tasks, people, places. variety
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Scope to learn, study, think, analyse. development
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Having contact with people professionally. being social
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Earning enough money to maintain/improve my life style. income
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Expressing ethical code or religious beliefs. being authentic
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Using talents, strengths and skills. being challenged
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Having influence or responsibility for others or resources. managing
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Enjoying or making beautiful designs or things. artistic
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Getting promotions, job progression. ambition
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Helping or caring for others. caring
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Importance of environment or location to self. wellbeing
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Being original, developing new ideas. creative
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Activity, keeping moving, handling things. physical
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Dealing with uncertainty. risk taking
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Being secure in a job. stability
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Words: 0
(adapted from Career Planning Workbook 2019 and Succeed in the workplace BOC)
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Next, write down the values that you scored as most important (rated 4) and those that you scored as least important (1 or 2).

For example, if ‘Being original, developing new ideas’ was scored at 4, then write down ‘Creative’ under a heading called ‘most important’.

Discussion

Different kinds of work will reflect different values and it’s useful to know what matters to you at this stage, as your needs and wants change as you go through your working life. By focusing on what you’ve identified as ‘most important’ and thinking of work that fulfils this will help you to think through options and opportunities. For instance, if being creative is important to you, then you might seek out tasks that will help you to develop this or you might undertake training to develop creative skills. Similarly, you may want to do less of what you have scored as 1 or 2.

The activity above will help you get started in knowing yourself better. However, in order to get a full picture you will need to review your skills, your interests and consider any constraints that may impact on your work plans. The links below will take you through this process:

  • Your Skills – identifies activities you’re good at. Also look at the ‘Resources’ section to identify courses (OL skills tool kit) that you can take to develop new skills or update your existing ones.
  • Discover your skills and careers – this tool will help you to identify your interests, your motivations and preferences in relation to work.
  • What are the constraints? There may be a range of factors that will affect your job path, identifying these will help you to plan actions. This activity is part of a course Succeed in the workplace, you can choose to complete just this activity or go through the course. The course also has an activity on ‘how well does my current job meet my wants and needs’ that you can choose to complete.