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The coach: ‘Architecture bores me stiff’

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Careers expert Matthew Turner advises an architect who’s finding that his chosen profession just isn’t doing it for him anymore

Why did I become an architect? I have grown indifferent to my job; in fact it bores me stiff. When I was younger, I was really idealistic. Architecture doesn’t provide me with that impetus any more. 

Matthew turner

You definitely sound fed-up. I am very sorry to hear this. Bordering on the disenchanted, you really should avoid casting yourself as the victim of your life. Switch to seeing your life as an experience you have control over, and do not stress yourself by thinking it’s an exam with a right or wrong answer.

For many, the decision to become an architect was made when we were 16 years old, around the time we were choosing our A levels. 

I get to talk to a lot of teenagers about work and careers, and am heartened to see their sense of limitless options, but also shocked at how their horizons are limited by what they are presented with – often by adults who have quite a skewed view of what a career consists of. 

What the career choice of architecture actually means is hard to see at that age. So is it at all surprising that, decades on, the teenager’s punt at a career might not still be valid? You have changed, and life has its ebbs and flows.

Sometimes I do get the sense that some architects feel as though the world owes them a living, but that approach can build quite a negative outlook. Within or without architecture, you have many options, if you take a positive attitude. You have a choice of two avenues: adjust the version of architecture you work in; or strike out in a completely different direction. It is alright to change. 

We live in an era when it has never been easier to reinvent yourself career-wise

You say you were idealistic; so perhaps you should try to focus on reviving that energy. Get out there and do things: become an activist, find people, issues or things that you are useful to. 

Opportunities are everywhere. The school your kids go to might be crying out for someone with building experience to become a governor; or your neighbourhood might need someone who can mobilise the local plan with the council. Making yourself useful might be a great way to regain self-value and recognition for your skills. 

Or, of course, there is the more radical option – thinking of another chapter in your career that is not architecture-related. While career change is usually easier as an evolution, rather than a revolution, giving up on architecture isn’t a heresy: we live in an era when it has never been easier to reinvent yourself career-wise. Many people do.

AJ coach Matthew Turner is an architect and careers consultant who runs the Building on Architecture consultancy. To contact him with your questions, tweet @TheAJcoach or email him in confidence at hello@buildingonarchitecture.com

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