3 essentials for a successful career in sustainability

When I was small and people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up I’d say I wanted to change the world. It wasn’t a surprising turn of events that I went on to study Sustainable Development at University (twice) and pretty much devoted all my time to being as “eco” as I could.

But despite being super clear on the broader aim of what I wanted to achieve, I had no plan to speak of whatsoever. My career to date has included time spent working in an ethical supermarket, the NHS, a farming and countryside charity, a carbon wholesale company, and don’t even get me started on the vast array of voluntary work I did along the way.

A career in sustainability can be tough

But even if you’re more focussed than I was (which isn’t hard), this sector is still such a bugger to navigate.

  • It’s broad for a start: there is almost nothing that can’t be discussed in terms of SD which makes it a slippery son of a gun when it comes to refining your options.
  • Meanwhile, work in this sector is not like training to be a doctor or lawyer – there’s no clean or clear career progression or hierarchy to move up through.
  • And this is something I’m hearing a lot from my clients and other members of the SY community at the moment as well: That navigating a career path in the sustainability sector is tough.

The further I intrepidly stroll into my “career” the more I realise how much career can be a real sticking point. We spend so much of our time at work and it’s important to do a job that fulfills you and challenges you. Yet it’s also super easy to feel bored, frustrated, unsure about what to do next, annoyed by a colleague, ready to move forward…yadda yadda.

2013-05-06 11.00.19And I don’t know about you but I’m not very good at being bored. I get all twitchy and jumpy and short-tempered. I like things to feel like they’re flowing, moving forward, progressing. I like the sweet nectar of the success flower.

Your three keys

So as promised I’ve been giving it a bit of thought and I’ve come up with a bit of a strategy. If you wish in any way your career was different, try these ideas on for size:

  1. Get clear on your why – Why is so important – it’s basically the backbone to any plan. So what’s your why? What is the difference you want to make in this world? Getting clear on your why will help you get clear on your aim and may even mean  some of the more intermediate stepping stones to fall into place too.
  2. Put on your gratitude specs – Practicing gratitude is thought to increase happiness, reduce negativity, improve health…among many other things. In this situation gratitude is about seeing the benefits, the good stuff in where you are now. Making the most of every situation is a sure way to enjoy the journey (regardless of how non-direct it might be) and not just worry about the destination.
  3. Get support – We spend plenty of time talking and thinking over things that have gone badly, but we’re much less good at making time to celebrate the stuff that goes well or even to think forward about how we want our futures to be. Give your career the time and focus it deserves. After all, you spend 120+ hours a month working so it’s worth enjoying that time! Chances are you know several other people who feel like you do so why not create a mastermind group with your peers. Or get a mentor? Whatever you do, don’t suffer alone and don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.

Over to you

Id love to hear your comments on how any of the above ideas have worked for you? Or what other keys to success you think are necessary? Come over to Facebook and get discussing!


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    Copyright ©Joey Clifton 2014 | Website Design by Lisa McLoughlin Art

    © Joey Clifton 2014-15 | Website Design by Lisa McLoughlin Art