At 18 we cannot wait to finish our matric, study for a degree and get out into the world of work.
Some young people know exactly what they want to be and do. Others have been guided or misguided by their parents along the way.
Most simply make what they consider the best choice at the time, and work unfolds as they journey along the road of life.
Essential ingredients in making and keeping work meaningful are:

# Continuous learning and development.
# Participating, and therefore feeling responsible for a particular outcome.
# Feeling that what you are doing is making a difference for the better
Research over the years has consistently proven that money, position and power are often lower on the list of priorities than these three points.
Remaining resilient at work includes:
# Being able to manage interpersonal relationships optimally.
# Selecting projects and challenges aligned with your strengths.
# Finding an internal company mentor who can share the company’s culture imperatives with us.
# Having an external coach with whom we can confidently explore our dilemmas and emerging political agendas, and work on our career management.
The most challenging work dilemma is to find a balance between fitting in at work, being effective, delivering on targets as well as maintaining one’s personal life and relationships without unnecessary compromise.
Work life and family life are inextricably linked, for better or worse. The more transparent and respectful and inclusive the work sphere is to the family, the more the benefits to mental health, adherence to family values and healthy relationships.
All too often extensive hours spent at work are nothing more than an apparently legitimate way of avoiding family, spouse and child-rearing responsibilities.
Keeping this balance has to be the hardest challenge. The only journey is the one where we remain in touch with our own internal value thermometer.
Most times it is wise, in this chaotic society of ours, to resist the pull from outside and listen with both ears to our internal voice, which connects us to our conscience and our values, and guides our behaviour.
Over and above personal mastery and leadership acumen, one has to have the following competencies to ensure a successful work life:
# Political competence – Political games are part of the normal ebb and flow in communication between people. Politics and influence are one and the same.
People have different interests and opinions and it is best to know what they are. We need to understand that people play games simply to protect themselves and in order not to have to take personal responsibility.
One’s only recourse in the world of work is to learn to play the game and improve the rules as you go.
# Negotiation competence – It is essential to know what we want. The alternative is to settle for what we get. We also need to know what we are prepared to give in order to get what we want.
It is as well that we are aware when a situation or offering becomes unacceptable to us, and when it has become time to walk away.
The greatest nations in the world become most powerful by exchanging resources and negotiating with one another, in order to build a broader, mutually viable economic base.
# Branding competence – The world of work requires that we need to be seen and heard. We need to be both visible and credible.
In order to do this effectively, we need to assess our strengths in relation to the organisation’s needs. We need to manage people’s perception of us, and work at remaining top of mind in a most memorable manner, in order to consistently get the work we want and are best at.
# Networking competence – We need to show up at events and occasions that count, and tell people who we are and what we do well, in a way that is beneficial and relevant to them.
It is in this manner that we grow a profile, which forms a customer base for the future. These relationships have to be fostered in an ethical manner and should be based on give and take and inherent respect for a competence philosophy.
Finally, as the journey of life takes us to middle age and beyond there are warnings to heed.
Work in essence is just a means to an end. It is simply one role we take on in life. It should never be allowed to become all that we are. In this manner it becomes the sole source of our self esteem.
Work can endanger what matters most, your relationships and truly living your life. It can feed us with a false sense of self-esteem.
As your life progresses, your challenge will be to determine who you are without the role of work.
The more you have lived a life true to your internal compass, guided by family and relationship values, and kept your body healthy and your hobby interests broad, and aligned with nature and the planet, the easier this transition will be for you.