Ca­reers – Risks to take now!

Times are changing and so are ca­reers. Now’s the time to take risks that’ll se­cure your future.

True Love - - News - By AYANDA NKONYANA

Back in the day, hav­ing a ca­reer meant a life­long re­la­tion­ship with a com­pany. The lat­est ca­reer stud­ies have found, how­ever, that jobs are un­der­go­ing big shifts – en­tire ca­reer fields are dis­ap­pear­ing or mor­ph­ing into some­thing new as tech­nol­ogy ad­vances, forc­ing work­ers to con­sider changing ca­reers. With South Africa for­mally in re­ces­sion, the lat­est em­ploy­ment fig­ures re­leased by Sta­tis­tics South Africa are also not help­ing. Our un­em­ploy­ment rate has risen to 27,7%.

So what now? Some­times tak­ing risks can help you reach your ul­ti­mate goal. In fact, tak­ing a chance and ex­plor­ing the un­known could be just the thing you need. Some peo­ple are nat­u­ral risk takers. They aren’t afraid to start a busi­ness, ac­cept a job in a dif­fer­ent city or even go back to study­ing full time. For oth­ers, the fear of the un­known and the many re­spon­si­bil­i­ties they have hold them back. Change is scary. Want­ing to pur­sue a new ca­reer or start a busi­ness is fright­en­ing. Ac­cord­ing to re­search by telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant Voda­fone, peo­ple aged be­tween 31 and 35 are the most un­happy at work. “They feel un­der­val­ued, un­ful­filled and de­mo­ti­vated. They ex­pe­ri­ence mid-ca­reer blues, think­ing of ca­reer change more of­ten than oth­ers but still wor­ry­ing if it’s worth mak­ing a change,” the re­search re­veals. Mor­ever, re­search done by El­iz­a­beth Brown, the au­thor of Work­ing Suc­cess­fully with Screwed-up Peo­ple, one in four work­ers has been with their cur­rent em­ployer for less than a year. This means more em­ploy­ees are now work­ing on a con­tract, free­lance or part­time ba­sis ei­ther be­cause com­pa­nies are cut­ting costs or they’re likely look­ing for a new chal­lenge. Do you feel stuck or you’re itch­ing for change?


Peo­ple are ven­tur­ing into en­trepreneur­ship. Many dream of cre­at­ing some­thing that they can call their own. How­ever, this comes with the risk of ir­reg­u­lar in­come due to the ev­er­fluc­tu­at­ing econ­omy.

Af­ter many years as a sought-af­ter ac­tress, Con­nie Fer­gu­son took a risk that paved the way for a suc­cess­ful busi­ness. Con­nie went from act­ing to start­ing a pro­duc­tion com­pany, Fer­gu­sons films, which she co-owns with her hus­band. To­day, the com­pany

has pro­duced great dra­mas like Rockville,

Igazi and The Queen for Mzansi Magic. Ca­reer coach Khanya Matlala sug­gests that you plan your busi­ness ven­ture while you’re still work­ing. “This is hard, es­pe­cially for some­one who has a sta­ble job. In the be­gin­ning, they can’t see how start­ing a busi­ness would make them enough money to cover their bills. Care­ful plan­ning is key. This is why con­sult­ing with a busi­ness coach is so im­por­tant. You need some­one to guide you on your ideas and de­velop a plan for your busi­ness that can set you up for suc­cess.”

Joburg-based ca­reer coach Vanessa Carstens adds: “Get a men­tor that can help you un­leash your hid­den po­ten­tial. Start­ing your own busi­ness can be daunt­ing and you need a sup­port sys­tem, not just a fi­nan­cial one, to help you through the jour­ney. Some peo­ple are nat­u­ral en­trepreneurs, but they need to un­der­stand how a com­pany op­er­ates be­fore jump­ing into the de­ci­sion blindly. Learn from oth­ers’ mis­takes, and choose your po­ten­tial busi­ness part­ners very care­fully.”


Mak­ing the fi­nan­cial and time com­mit­ment to go back to study for an ad­vanced de­gree or cer­tifi­cate is over­whelm­ing, but many choose this route, which does pay off in the long term. Ac­tresses like Natasha Tha­hane, Xoli Tsha­bal­ala and Fik­ile Kani also de­cided to study fur­ther abroad, even though their ca­reers were steadily on the rise here in South Africa. “The pay-off is get­ting a qual­i­fi­ca­tion that’ll make you el­i­gi­ble for a pro­mo­tion or ca­reer change,” adds Matlala. “Lots of peo­ple put their ca­reers on hold by not mak­ing education a pri­or­ity.”

Hav­ing fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties or be­ing un­able to quit your job to fo­cus on study­ing can feel like a heav­ier bur­den. “If you de­cide to go back to school, discuss this with your im­me­di­ate fam­ily. Some­times you have to give up on the short-term lux­u­ries to gain in the long term. The ques­tions to ask yourself be­fore tak­ing the risk are: What are you pre­pared to sac­ri­fice for this ca­reer goal? Do you have the dis­ci­pline to han­dle the heavy work­load?

Carstens ad­vises: “Ask how your de­ci­sion will im­pact you and your im­me­di­ate fam­ily. You want to get them on board and to sup­port your de­ci­sion. Too many peo­ple make ca­reer de­ci­sions based on short-term gains.”

Also, discuss it with your em­ployer, so they can make plans.


Bad ca­reer de­ci­sions made early in life can lead you down the path of mis­ery and frus­tra­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Matlala, this usu­ally af­fects peo­ple who are over 30 be­cause they’ve spent so many years get­ting to where they are to­day, and don’t want to throw it all away and start again at the bot­tom.

When Cindy, 40, was given an op­por­tu­nity to re­main a char­tered ac­coun­tant at one of the best firms in the coun­try and work to­wards a part­ner­ship, she turned the op­por­tu­nity down. In­stead, she de­cided to carve a new path for her­self as a fi­nance ex­ec­u­tive else­where. “I wanted a taste of commerce. The new firm was a very de­mand­ing and chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment, but I learned a lot from that – I worked hard and paid at­ten­tion to the de­tail.”

“Thanks to all the ex­pe­ri­ence they al­ready have, peo­ple over the age of 30 ac­tu­ally stand a chance to grow faster if they start a new ca­reer. They can take the skills they’ve learned and trans­fer them to their new role as a way to move up the ranks a lot faster than any ju­nior in the same po­si­tion,” says Matlala.

Your ca­reer is a huge part of your life – and, you spend a lot of time at work so it has to be worth it. When it doesn’t leave you feel­ing ful­filled, it could be time for a ma­jor change.

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