As a writer and career strategist, one of the opportunities I enjoy most is when people I meet involve me in their process of discovering what they would like to do for work.
It’s been refreshing to see that even during these unstable economic times, there are people out there who are not willing to continue to sell their souls for a paycheck. There are some who refuse to settle for a job and insist on finding something that they’ll enjoy and will bring meaning to their life. The main hurdle these people share is that while they know that their current line of work is not fulfilling, they have no idea what will fulfil them.
For those of you who are seeking to answer the question: “what do I like to do?” first let me remind you that there is nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not saying this to be nice. Take a look at how a well-run manufacturing plant works. One of the most dangerous things an operations manager can do is ignore problems in the system. It is only when she acknowledges faults in the process that she stands a chance to correct them. The same applies to the game of work.
Besides, it takes great courage to acknowledge (if only to yourself) that the path that you have been on – whether it has been for a few months or several years – is not the right one for you. Just as well, the process of looking for answers is an opportunity in itself. You’re bound to end up better off than when you started. Even so, there are no easy answers or formulas to find an answer.
To shine a light on your path, here I share with you what has helped those who have found an answer:
Staying open to trying different things. The discovery of the light bulb is one of history’s most over-used and yet plainly obvious examples of the power of trial and error. Like the light bulb, most of the world’s greatest discoveries have been made by those who have tried different things and learned from their failures. (Think Thomas Edison)
If you’re hesitating to accept a job or a business opportunity, keep in mind that you’re not accepting a life sentence. Of course it’s to your advantage to be committed to making things work out, but if down the track you find that you’re miserable, there’s always the option to change. The upside of changing after you’ve tested an opportunity is that you’ll become more clear on what you don’t want. That puts you in a better place next time that you consider an opportunity.
Learning from every experience. Every job or business opportunity is part of the process of discovering who you are and what you want to do. Pay attention to the feedback that every experience gives you. Make a list of every major job you’ve held and every business opportunity you’ve been a part of. Beside each, jot down the major lessons and insights gained. Those are yours to keep for life – and to take with you to other jobs and business opportunities.
Trusting the process. It’s key to recognize that there are things that are outside our control. Even if we feel that answers are light years away, we must trust that they will eventually come. Part of having answers is having enough information to recognize those answers. How many times has it happened to you that the answer to something has been in front of you but you did not see it – while someone else did? That’s because you were missing information that allowed you to recognize the answer. Once you received the information, you were able to recognize it. The same applies to finding out what you’d like to do. It’s possible that the answer is right in front of you. To recognize it you must first live through certain experiences that will give you the information that you need. During those times when you become particularly impatient or anxious, try saying to yourself: ”I trust and I let go.” Doing so will help you acknowledge that just because things are outside of your control does not mean that they will not be taken care of. My favorite example is the human heartbeat. Just because you cannot control it, does not mean that your heart will not beat.
And what has stopped others from finding an answer?
Nothing will lead to nothing. So many times I come across people who decide to do nothing because they do not know what to do. They’re afraid that if they jump into something, that it will be the wrong thing. My question to them is: ‘if you do not know what you’d like to do, then what does knowing what you’d like to do look like?’ The point is, even if the thing that you’d like to do landed on top of you while you’re in a state of inaction, chances are you wouldn’t recognize it. Why? Because you need more information. And you’ll get that information by doing something.
For those who insist on remaining in a state of paralysis, here are a few things to ponder about while you sit and wait for the right opportunity to land on your head (re-read the title):
Every job role and business leaves valuable lessons – even if you don’t love or like it.
Every experience has good and bad things. As much as you suspect that you will not like a role, the reality is that there will be things that will like about it. The world is not all black or white.
It’s a chance to expand your network. It’s more likely that you’ll meet people at work than sitting on your couch. Make the most of those relationships.
As you seek for answers, remember that it’s not an easy question to answer; it’s one of the most important ones. Just as well, seeking for an answer is as valuable as finding one.
Like the pig? flickr