Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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Developing career resilience

4 Understanding the idea of ‘control’

This course has emphasised the idea that career resilience is not only about managing and recovering from the difficulties thrown up by changing economic and working environments. It is also about taking things in hand so that, over time, your working life reflects things that matter to you, your goals, needs and values.

You may feel in a place where ‘control’ over your working life and its direction feels distant. You may have other people fully dependent on you, and little space to exercise personal choices. Nonetheless, over time, understanding this concept and carving out a space to act upon it can make a difference.

‘Locus of control’ relates to an individual’s belief that their actions can control events affecting them. Individuals with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life derive mainly from their own choices and actions. People with a strong external locus of control tend to believe that their life events are controlled by external factors that they cannot influence – ‘fate’, in other words

Activity 10 How much control do you feel you have?

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

What is your life most influenced by? If you imagine a spectrum where one end is ‘My own choices and actions’ and the other end is ‘External factors I can’t control’, where would you place yourself?


As your answer to this question will be personal/only applicable to your own circumstances, there is no discussion for this activity.

You might decide you assess things differently for different fields; for example, you may believe you have control over your skills, but that you have little control over whether your department closes.

An accurate assessment of how much ‘control’ you have over your situation and environment helps you to plan and take more effective action. You may remember the athletes in Week 6, Activities 2 and 3 distinguishing between areas where they have or can build control (like having a puncture repair kit) and those that escape control by their very nature (like the weather). Using reflection and getting feedback (Week 6) and networking and understanding how our networks see the world helps individuals to generate more accurate assessments of their situation.

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