Part 2 of 6
Doing What You Love For a Living?
Last week we talked about how tough it is to know what you want to “be” when you are out of school…or when you are 30, or 40, or 50, or 60 or 70.
Nothing really changes as you age.
We are clueless.
As a child you wake up and see your MOM. You go to school most of the day and see your TEACHER. You go the NURSE’s office and she lets you rest when you don’t feel good. She sends you to the DOCTOR. On the way your Mom gets a ticket for speeding from the POLICE OFFICER.
…and these are the people you become familiar with…. and what you are familiar with is what you most likely want to move toward as you age.
But sometimes when you were a kid, you dreamed….
What were your dreams when you were a child?
Did you want to be a famous singer?
President of the United States?
What happened to those dreams?
Obviously, only one person can be the President at a time.
Putting attention there is not real good thinking.
BUT, doing the kinds of things that the President does, experiencing the power or impact can be experienced by millions of people.
Same is true with a famous singer. There aren’t a lot of them out there but there are a few and even if there are only a few, you can still sing.
Problem one is people thinking in the SINGULAR.
I want to be A, A, A, A, A.
I want to be a “one thing” which excludes everything else.
I want to be a “one thing” and only one thing and then I want to get away from that thing that I do all day and then go space out.
Wait a minute….
Why do you supposedly qualify to do only one thing?
People read my bio page and they can’t believe I’ve “done all that in one lifetime.”
That’s because I did it in two or so.
If I could ONLY have been a therapist, that would have made for a fast and high burnout life. It’s tough work. It’s rewarding but don’t let anyone kid you. It’s not “fun”.
If I could only have been a cold calling salesman, that could have made for a fast and high burnout life. It’s tough work. Don’t let anyone kid you. It’s not “fun”.
Hey wait, I see a pattern developing here….
I never thought in terms of exclusionary thinking.
When I was 11, I wanted to a journalist, an actor AND a weatherman.
KEYPOINT: You aren’t a singular. You are a plural.
WHO are you?
I ultimately didn’t have the requisite discipline to be a journalist. I far overestimated my ability to act. There were only four TV stations in Chicago that had meteorologists. The odds were stupid overwhelming and I did have a grandfather who taught me basic statistics when I was 11….
But there were things journalists did…that an actor did…and that a weatherman did…that were fun…that you could do in OTHER professions….AND…you could do them all at the same time. (At least consecutively, if not contemporaneously.)
I eventually found success in school in speech and debate. I found that I was no big star in the making with my acting skills. My writing was marginal.
So I had some stuff I wanted to do. And it never dawned on me that you had to be A SOMETHING, instead of a SOMETHING and SOMETHING ELSE and SOMETHING ELSE.
After being in theater at the University of Wisconsin and at the University of Minnesota, I recognized what excellence was all about.
The actors that had a chance to make it were either well disciplined in their field or talented.
I was neither.
But I still enjoyed theater.
So that was one of the directions I’d have to make an adjustment on but I wouldn’t give up the idea of entertaining people.
While it is possible to rekindle a dream you’ve held since childhood, you do not have to. Instead, let new dreams make themselves known to you. Ask yourself what type of work would make you feel most fulfilled doing. Ask yourself how you can best make a contribution to the world by doing something you truly love.
If you come up with a short list or no list, don’t worry that’s pretty normal. Just guess.
It sounds simple in theory, but how do you start? Many of us have fallen completely out of touch with our passions. We’re so focused on the things we HAVE to do that we have no time for play or exploration.
KEY QUESTION: Who are you?
Can I be direct?
There is no other alternative but to MAKE time.
Set aside some time to really get to know your SELF.
Figure out what you like to do, might like to do, might be interested in, fascinated by, or explore new activities so you can decide whether they might be one of your true passions. You don’t have to devote dozens of hours to this, perhaps start with 10-15 minutes each day ’til the crystal ball becomes clear.
Identifying and Nurturing Your Talents
A good place to start is by gaining a clear idea of your skills and talents. This is really all the stuff you “got good” at in the course of your life.
Make a list of the things you have a knack for, as well as the things you’ve become good at through repetitive effort.
Write down the skills you use in your job, the things you learned in school, and the things you enjoy doing in your spare time.
When you’ve listed everything you can, look over your list and consider whether any of these skills and talents might be marketable. How can you use your talents to provide something of value to others?
Find out by typing these findings in the little search box at google and hit enter.
Take your time with this project.
Seriously, don’t rush through it. You’re trying to get an idea of the work that would make you feel passionate and fulfilled – therefore it deserves your undivided attention.
This exercise is also important for another reason. Your dream is NOT just about you. It’s about all the lives you will touch when you do what you were meant to do on this planet.
You are truly special and unique, and you have something(s) to offer this world that no one else does. By denying your own talents, you deny others the gift of what you have to share.
So please, do this. You owe it to yourself and others to be ruthlessly honest about your passion(s).
What should your next step be?
Once you have a clear list of your existing skills and talents, make a mark next to the ones you use on a regular basis, whether in your work or personal time. Can any of those skills be enhanced or strengthened? Can you enroll in a continuing education course to expand on any of your skills? Make notes about possible opportunities to grow and develop what you already have.
(Note: if any of the skills on your list are not things you truly ENJOY doing, cross them off the list and do not consider them as life options, at least not now.)
This doesn’t mean you’ll never use those skills, just that they won’t be your main focus. A good example might be bookkeeping or accounting skills that you use in your day job.
You may be good with numbers but if working with them doesn’t thrill you and move you, you should simply consider it an additional tool that can help with your work.
What’s left on your list? Look at the talents that were not checked as something you use frequently. Would you like to spend more time developing those talents/abilities/skills?
Again, if they don’t thrill you, or get you to something that does thrill you, cross them off the list.
If they do interest you, consider ways to expand and develop them further.
Finally, make one more list: of things you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet. These will be things you can explore gradually and see if they have potential to be your passion.
Then, be sure to MAKE TIME to explore them! Check out courses and classes in your local area, or do a few Internet searches for groups of like-minded people. Give your interests a chance, and one (or more) of them might blossom into a life-changing passion.
KEYPOINT: Light the fire and find those who can fan the flames…
Learning How to Work Smart – Not Just Hard!
Many of us fall into the trap of believing that becoming successful will require a lot of hard work.
That’s pretty much true.
Let’s define “hard” as stuff you have to get good at, or, practice.
Some elements of what you do you want to be in “FLOW.” Check out Dr. C’s book, Flow. It’s good…
One element of “flow” is when you do stuff that is challenging, but not overwhelmingly impossible.
But, don’t put an equal sign between “hard work” and “success.”
KEYPOINT: Hard work does NOT EQUAL success. It is one vital ingredient for success.
For any significant achievement, hard work is a must. But there is more to work than being diligent.
Think about people who are working long hours at low-paying jobs every day. Are they becoming successful because of their hard work? Or are they simply scraping by, paycheck to paycheck – as most do?
That’s the deal.
You and I need to be willing and prepared to work THAT hard, but we want to be doing mostly activities that have PURPOSE and DESIGN behind them. There is a REASON for the actual work.
Why all this? And what’s next?
Simply working hard is not the answer to becoming successful. Working steadily in a CHOSEN and FOCUSED direction is.
That’s why I led you through all that “identifying your talents” stuff at the beginning of this article. If you don’t know what you’re working toward, you will be spinning your wheels no matter how hard you work.
Once you know your objective (passionate, fulfilling work that contributes value to the world), it is easy to come up with focused action steps that will make it a reality.
Working hard in THAT context can be extremely effective. You know where you’re going, you know exactly what to do to get there, and all you need is the discipline and determination to see it through.
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