When everyone usually ‘Keeps Left’, Go Right: My top 3 tips to achieving the fulfilling social work career you want

I read recently that the key to having a fulfilling job is to choose a job with meaning!   I would go further to say that a truly fulfilling job is one that has meaning for a cause you are really passionate about.   I was recently described by a colleague that I was the most passionate person she had ever met – what a compliment!

Up until April, I was working towards creating myself a new dream job at Relationships Australia so that I could travel a bit less and pursue something I became really passionate about – prevention of trauma in young children! In November last year, I resigned from my present position and had two months to find funding for the new project. It was a big risk! If it didn’t find the money I would be unemployed. Prevention work is not something governments are generally interested in funding. April came, I didn’t have any money , and so my work came to an end.

Others would stay on the side of the road they feel comfortable on, but not me. I ‘kept right’ and never gave up on my dream. I really believe that the program I’ve developed can stop the cycle of trauma affecting children exposed to domestic and family violence. I decided to promote the project on my new business website. Then two weeks ago Relationships Australia offered me a second chance. They have re-employed me for three days over the next three months to try again!

I feel so blessed. How many people do you know that are being paid to try to create their ideal fulfilling job?

Here are my top 3 tips to chasing your ideal, fulfilling dream social work job.

When everyone else Goes Left, Keep Right.  It might be the harder road but its much more fulfilling.

When everyone else Goes Left, Keep Right. It might be the harder road but it’s much more fulfilling.

1.  Establish a Trusting Relationship with the Big Boss

From day one, I developed an honest, open relationship with the CEO sharing my hopes, dreams and stories about my past practice that gave her insight into what made my heart tick. I just opened up to what I was passionate about and she developed a job to fit. Along the way, my CEO would pop her head into my office regularly and was always interested in what I was doing. By laying my cards on the table in the first instance, it felt like we had a relationship based on trust that has stood the test of time, even when things got hectic. Believe me, if you don’t have trust in the Big Boss, the passion will soon die! Do everything you can to keep the lines of communication open, no matter how busy everyone gets.

2.  Educate others in the office about what you are doing – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Don’t be scared to share with colleagues, supervisors and Managers what gets you really excited. I believe you should celebrate your successes. It is not bragging. I know that sometimes colleagues might feel threatened by me sharing stories of success and good practice.   However this is an inadequacy they need to deal with.   As a social worker, I feel it is my responsibility to the profession to encourage others to share their good practice stories too, like in group supervision, student supervision, debriefing, mentoring, writing about their practice or more informally. It also takes a lot of guts to admit your faults, where you went wrong and what didn’t work. I think my colleagues appreciate people who approach their work with honesty and integrity. We learn just as much from our mistakes as we do the success stories.

3.  Don’t be scared to take risks; never give up and have faith that it will all work out in the end

Sometimes I have some pretty weird and ‘out there’ ideas. They don’t always get taken up but I still feel free enough to share them and push the boundaries. You never know, one of those crazy ideas might just work! Some people respect me for “thinking outside the box” and not just accepting the status quo. Other people might view me as a feather ruffler. But I know what it’s like to have creativity stifled and it does not lead to a fulfilling job at all.

I’ve had a hundred people tell me my project is needed in remote Aboriginal communities and the resources created are fantastic. All the signs are leading me down this road but I still have one big barrier – money to get it started! I really believe this program will make a difference to the lives of Aboriginal kids not even born yet so I won’t give up.

If you are passionate about what you believe in, you will take risks! Because in the end this isn’t about you. It is about the most marginalised people in our community we are trying to help. And there’s nothing more fulfilling than that!  So my advice is ‘Keep Right’.

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