This is the first guest post on Your Work is Your Life. The first of many, hopefully – how terribly exciting!
I receive a lot of emails from readers who are miserable in their job and either don’t know how to make the transition into their dream job, or don’t even know what their dream job is.
My friend and blogger Vishnu knows a thing or two about this and has written an awesome post on this very topic. Cool!
Take it away, V……
“My client never had a sip of that wine before she got behind the wheel of the car. Bad driving isn’t drunk driving” I argued to a skeptical jury.
“As a matter of fact, the only person who I believe is drunk here is the prosecutor for wasting your time trying to prosecute my hard-working, God-fearing client,” I quipped, in hope that the jury would find my client not guilty of drunk driving.
My life as a criminal defence attorney was thrilling; defending the wrongly accused (well, most of the time they were completely innocent) speaking up for justice and well on my way to earning a comfortable income.
In fact, the week before I quit my legal job, I was told to expect a significant $20,000.00 raise.
What did I do when I heard this good news? Figure out which dream car I was going to buy? Explore which Caribbean island I would vacation at? Book an around-the-world trip to see the ancient wonders of the world?
I submitted my resignation to take an entirely new job where I’d net half the salary I was earning, work more hours and start using an entirely different skill set.
As a community organizer to-be, my job would now be to empower people to take on large powerful corporations, big banks, powerful and moneyed interests.
Whenever money, prestige or stability has confronted me in my career, I’ve passed on those opportunities, in pursuit of my life’s work.
What was life’s work, you ask?
Well, it was pursuing my passion, my dream in the making. I didn’t quite know what my destination was but I kept on the journey, sacrificing wearing 3-piece suits, lunches on the golf course with fellow-attorneys and cigar-filled discussions with judges on the weekends.
How do you crawl out of the trappings of comfort and financial stability to find your life’s work?
Here are 6 strategies to do just that:
1) Don’t let careers or jobs define you. You may have gone to school for 18 years to become that swanky doctor you are today; saving the lives of your patients and living every minute of your life in the hospital to pay for the ritzy condo you own.
If the job you’ve invested a lifetime into isn’t for you, you don’t have to stick with it. You can build upon this career with your next job. You will always, and I mean ALWAYS, be able to use your skills and experiences in a different capacity in your next job.
If you were a physician before, you’d be able to use your medical knowledge to coach people to better health or eat more nutritiously. If you were a marketer, you’d be able to put your skills to immediate use in hawking your own brand and line of products.
2) Don’t dock the boat, keep on sailing towards your life’s work. If you’re unsatisfied, unhappy or unfulfilled, continue moving towards work that makes you want to jump out of bed and go to work.
Look for opportunities that makes you look forward to Mondays.
Don’t get comfortable where you are. Don’t let the money, corner offices or titles hoodwink you into living and working a job that leaves you as fulfilled as a can of diet beer or an episode of Jersey Shore.
3) Have a plan. To make small or large career hops, you’ve got do the research first. What career do you want to transition to and what are the requirements, classes, or plan to transition into that career?
Are you able to get the skills you need at the local community college? Or online classes?
Do you have mentors in your network you can talk about the new profession or trade?
Can you start a savings account or a freedom fund to fund your new venture?
Lay the groundwork for your life’s work before making the leap. Use your after-work hours and weekends to research and plan your next move.
4) Get skilled. Use internships, volunteer work and freelancing to build up your resume. If you’re not sure if your next career leap is right for you, start experimenting by taking small steps.
You can use unpaid or paid internships for a few hours a week to see if the work you’re interested in is right for you. There are a lot of companies, non-profits and freelancers who would love the free help. In return, you grow your skills and are able to strengthen your resume.
You can even start offering your freelance services to your family. How about that?
Again, you’ll get the benefit of experimenting with your life’s work and be able to build up your resume, get testimonials and appreciative clients who might sing your laurels.
5) Find out what you love by figuring out what you hate.
Let’s say you have no idea what your life’s work or dream job is. Then, start doing something, anything, on your path to find your life’s work.
The ‘elimination strategy’ is one way to narrow down and identify your life’s work; simply gain experiences in as many fields as you can to determine what you hate doing. Then, transition out of that line of work.
I was not impressed with law practice or the adversarial nature of the work so began a slow and steady process out of it. I had to do legal work to realize it wasn’t for me.
6) Trust the process. You may be filled with uncertainty and doubt as you journey through your career. You may have no idea what you want to ultimately do in your life. But the exciting and adventurous part is discovering just that.
The best way I’ve found to uncovering your life’s work is to forge ahead, discover new experiences and be willing to take risks.
If you’re already in a mountain of school debt, family obligations and supporting a family, you too can make the change although it may take a little longer. It’s a matter of being more creative in experimenting outside of the day job that pays the bills. You may have to shift your priorities, values and spending habits to make a change to the work you want to do.
The only mistake you can make is not starting on the journey to doing your life’s work.
Have you started on your journey to discover your life’s work? If not, what’s stopping you?
Vishnu blogs for his community of world changers at www.vishnusvirtues.com. If you’re seeking enlightenment, therapy or a good laugh, sign up for his weekly updates at www.vishnusvirtues.com.