Imagine it is your 80th birthday and your grandchild is giving a speech about what you achieved in life. What is in the grandchild’s speech?
Pretend you are an employment counsellor asking this person (you) what they would do if there were no barriers between where they are now and what they really want to do. When we think about ourselves in the third person we can be much more objective and less emotional.
Create a pride list by thinking about something you have done in your life that makes you proud. It should be a job, activity or project that you accomplished. Now write down your story. When you have finished ask a friend to listen to it. Ask them to write down any skills or personal qualities they hear. How do these points relate to your first lists?
Talk to your parents. This crazy idea may not work for everyone but in most cases these people have known you for your whole life. Ask them about what work they have done and why they enjoyed it. These “family of origin” people are probably quite a bit like you. Weird, eh? Their likes and dislikes may be similar to yours. Ask them what they think you are good at, what you wanted to be when you were five. Stay open-minded and don’t argue – you’re researching.
Conduct informational interviews. Asking people who are doing what you are interested in doing can be stimulating. Ask people what they like best about their work and what sort of advice they would give someone who is just getting started. Plucking up the courage to ask questions can be difficult but remember you are on a quest for your passion.
Go talk to a professional. Making an appointment with an employment counsellor is a good idea. If you are unemployed and living in British Columbia you probably qualify for free employment counselling. Check out an employment centre in your community. If you have completed the steps above a case manager at one of these centres can help you put it all together.
Never have we had a greater availability of information at our fingertips than today. The advent of the Internet means that we can view information on just about anything we are interested in. Exploring a subject or idea that interests you can ignite passion.
The son of a trader, Leonardo Fibonacci joined his father on trading journeys to North Africa. Italian traders were still using Roman numerals to mark goods and to calculate value and exchange. This practice is particularly challenging when trying to do division. It was here that the young Fibonacci saw goods imported from India that utilized a single digit numbering system, today referred to as Arabic numerals. Leonardo became fascinated with this system and employed it in mathematics. He acquired books from the east and came to understand the depth of pure mathematics. He studied the ancients and came up with his own theories, including the Fibonacci Sequence. Today we use the Arabic numerals because of this young man’s curiosity. We use the Fibonacci Sequence for mathematics, coding and complex algorithms. In his later years Fibonacci came to understand that nature is filled with this sequence. Seashells, cones, plants and every flower on the planet contain the sequence. Once you recognize it you can’t help but see it in everything.
Sometimes we can’t figure out our passion. It’s hard for us to really see where we want to go. In some instances thinking about what makes you mad can give a clue. If reading news articles about pollution and environmental damage makes you mad then possibly your passion lies in environmental protection. If learning about child poverty or social depression makes you furious then possibly your passion lies in social health.
Passion is a complex issue. It needs examining from many perspectives. It is more than just an idea you like. Passion has a consuming nature. It drives you and enlivens you. Taking a personality assessment is not going to give you the answer. Thinking about your personality in the context of your interest, skills and experience may start to focus in a particular direction. This book helps you to look at the many facets of who you are to start to build a plan and picture of your goal.
In the Disney cartoon movie, Aladdin, Robin Williams’ genie tells Aladdin that he only has three wishes, “…and no wishing for more wishes.” What would you wish for? Why did you choose that wish? What else would you wish for? Why? Now think about what you would do to get to that wish.
“Yeah but…” is often an answer I am faced with from clients. “I don’t have the money to do that.” It is true that many people lack the basic funds to start on their road to their goal quest. So there is a matter of examining the current circumstances and developing a plan. It is going to mean making sacrifices. It is going to be hard. It is astonishing, though, how many people I have witnessed who have solved that problem and lifted themselves out of poverty. A good question to ask is, “What is one thing I can do today that can move me closer to my goal?”
Why not think about a scenario where you were invincible and the outcome would be successful no matter what. Playing hypothetical question games can really help trigger the brain into thinking about areas of passion. Often it is a matter of allowing ourselves to dream.
Our values are central to the things we do. As humans we hold a wide collection of beliefs. Those beliefs form the structure of our value system. Exploring our values, and how we live by them, is a useful process in determining a career or a life direction.
It is important to recognize the complexity of holding conflicting beliefs and behaviours. For example a person may be an environmentalist but drives a car. Another may see the importance of speaking out about an issue but recognizes that there are times when it isn’t right to do so. This complexity is central to our humanness. However, thinking through our values is critical in determining what it is we are passionate about.
Thinking about the people that we admire is a useful way of reflecting on our own traits. The things that we like about others are connected to our own character. When we think about a person we admire and start to unpack why we admire them we start to see parallels in our own personality, interests, values and beliefs. These people don’t need to be famous. They can be people who you know, family, friends or teachers. Think about why you admire them. What is it that impresses you?
One of the toughest challenges to developing our goal is dealing with the people in our lives. Many people have come to rely on the role you play in their life and as they start to see change they want to keep things the way they are. Life partners, children, parents and friends will put up barriers to your change. Some will go so far as to try to undermine your purpose. They’ll tell you to be realistic and that you aren’t going to be able to make it. It is a hard conversation to ask the people that love you to provide support and encouragement. It may mean making changes in terms of those relationships. It is also a time to spend more time building connections with people who are out on the journey following their goal and seeking support too. Conversely there will be people who are excited by the changes they witness in you. They show up with support and encouragement. Keep them around and tell them about your aspirations.
Building healthy self-esteem takes time. When we experience a loss of work, relationships or even personal belongings we may feel less capable, confident and assured. In order to combat this sense of inadequacy we need to continue to engage in healthy activities and recognize our gifts and abilities. It is about letting go of unhealthy messages and embracing positive activities that lift us up. Following a goal and recognizing each daily success towards achieving that goal is an excellent exercise in developing a healthy self-esteem. Seek demonstrations of your ability in your life and before long you will recognize that you are an achiever, a good person, worthy of success. Self-esteem development takes time and an ongoing process of engaging in healthy activities. Recognizing that will be the first step to improving self-esteem.
Communication is all around us. We live in the information age. That information is being texted, faxed, emailed and messaged. People meet face to face, by telephone and electronically. We convey data, news, banal Tweets, facebook posts, Instagram photos, Tumblr stories and a host of other bits of info. We need to consider our words. We need to consider the recipient and their perspectives. We need to remember that the medium is the message. It must be able to be conveyed in a way that people can understand because each medium produces a different perception. Do this well, and you could go viral. Do it poorly, and be ignored.
As we move through our plans, we sometimes notice new opportunities arising. Sometimes those opportunities are distractions but sometimes they are closer to our true passion than the goal we set out to accomplish. The reality is though that many people never see those opportunities. Sometimes when I speak with highly successful people they tell me that they have been very lucky. And others, who have not been very successful, tell me that they have had a string of bad luck.
In his book, The Luck Factor, Dr. Richard Wiseman explains that lucky people create and notice opportunities. Lucky people act on those opportunities as they come along. They are typically extroverts, who are happy meeting lots of new people. They smile more; make eye contact and exhibit open and positive body language.
Wiseman, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, studied large numbers of people who described themselves as lucky or unlucky. He found that lucky people were less anxious and stressed. As a result they are open to new information. Conversely, unlucky people are over-focused and as a result don’t see new opportunities.
“In short, lucky people are skilled at spotting any opportunities that naturally arise,” says Wiseman. “…their relaxed approach to life helps them notice what is happening around them.”
Wiseman goes onto to say that lucky people listen to their hunches. These people trust their intuition and follow their gut feelings. They hear and respond to their inner voice. This is why rest, relaxation and meditation are important in order to have clarity of mind so that you can hear that voice.
After 10 years of research, and using widespread television audiences, Wiseman determined that lucky people expect good fortune. They have experienced good fortune in their lives and so expect it in the future. They see the future as “bright and rosy” where good things will happen. They create a self-fulfilling prophesy. These same people don’t just sit back and wait for the good things to come. In fact they work hard to achieve their goals and they stick with it when the going gets tough.
Wiseman’s book is filled with exercises to increase good luck. He says that ultimately we create our luck through our behaviours and attitudes. “When it comes to luck, the future is in your hands.”
In his landmark book the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Steven Covey explains that when we take responsibility for our actions and the things that we can change in ourselves we cause change in the circumstances around us. Covey describes these people as proactive. Their energy is “positive, enlarging and magnifying causing their Circle of Influence to increase.” This sense of influence is not arrogant and controlling. In fact it is born from following your values, using your smarts and understanding what is needed. Humility, empathy and integrity are at the core of being influential.
It is important to have a goal and to develop a picture of that goal. However, rigidly adhering to reaching the goal with blinkers on may mean that you will miss the opportunities that come along on the journey. Theorists Robert Prior and Jim Bright explored chaos theory as it relates to careers. They expressed that as systems become more complex there is a greater degree of disorder. We have to accept two premises. We are complex beings and the universe is a random place. As a result, we must accept that chance factors come into play as we move towards our goal. This is why it is important to remain flexible and open to opportunities that will take you closer to your passion rather than clinging to the original goal. Sometimes the new option is better. We need to be open to it.
When working with groups I often play games rooted in childhood. Playing connects us with our inner child and we are able to feel what was important to us as children.
When I was a child I wanted to be a doctor and a soldier and a professional scout. Interestingly, while those careers have not been ones I have followed, they have all been areas of interest. I remember when I was very young I told people that when I grew up I wanted to visit with people and drink tea. Strangely that is my job. I love meeting with people and talking through problems. The process is best facilitated while drinking tea.
As you reflect on a vision for the future it is worth remembering your childhood thoughts on employment and what you wanted to be when you grew up.
It may surprise most people to know that a great number of people are doing the jobs they wanted to do when they were a young child. In a recent survey by LinkedIn approximately 30 per cent of professionals said they are doing the job they aspired to as children. The world-wide survey of more than 8,000 professionals found that men and women had very different career aspirations. Women typically wanted to have jobs that were expressive, creative and nurturing and men wanted jobs that were action and control driven. Referred to as the “Dream Jobs” study in 2012 reported that 30.0% of respondents said that they currently have their childhood dream job or work in a career related to their childhood dream job.
“The dream jobs we aspire to as children are a window into our passions and talents,” said Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert. “Identifying and understanding those passions are key to improving our performance and enjoyment of the jobs we currently do, even if they aren’t specific to the careers we dreamed of as kids.”
LinkedIn goes on to recommend several tips for landing your dream job.
The following tips can help you get one step closer to landing your dream job:
Some people have no problem completing tasks in their lives. Others struggle to get things done. For those people there may be a need for some external motivation. One way of getting motivated is to tell someone about your passion and how you intend to achieve your goal. That person can be referred to as an accountability coach. They will ask you “How’s the plan coming?” They will say things like, “That letter isn’t going to write itself.” Don’t consider them nags. Think of them as encouraging supporters. Follow their advice and then report back to them. It is highly satisfying to share the success you experience. In time there is less and less need to seek out the accountability coach because the pleasure of achieving goals becomes the motivator.
Getting sufficient sleep and healthy food are critical to maintaining the energy you need to carry out your objectives. Working through the plan is draining. It probably is the first time for everything and so the mental and sometimes physical muscles are tired. They need to be rejuvenated so make sure you are taking good care of your health as you move through your process.
There is a consistent theme in the work-world where workers consistently speak about how they are obliged to do more with fewer resources. As a result the rate of burnout, the levels of dissatisfaction and the degree of low morale are all on the increase. Conversely there are workers who find themselves engaged in tasks that are much below their ability level and have simply lost interest in their work. A new model, called Career Engagement looks at the balance between work Challenges and the worker’s own Capacity. Theorists Roberta Neault and Deirdre Pickerall explain that when the Challenge is too great, and the Capacity too low, the worker becomes overwhelmed and unable to meet the demands of the job. Conversely, when the Challenge is too low and the Capacity too great then the worker becomes disengaged because they feel underutilized and unimportant. Capacity can be impacted by a lack of training, a lack of resources, and/or a lack of support. But it could also mean that the worker’s demands outside of work are significant and reduce their capacity when at work.
It is worth reflecting on the work you are doing or previous work you have done in the past and to consider whether or not you are disengaged and why that disengagement has occurred.
Belief, faith and religion have significant impact on our lives. Some people hold that there is no god, that this life is a one-time act and will be finished when we die. Others believe in a created universe or follow a doctrine of faith. We all move though life with a set of beliefs. As you develop your plan and determine a path, it is important to reflect on your beliefs and consider your actions in accordance with that belief-set. Some may hold strong ideas about fate – what will be, will be. Others believe we must make our own way. And yet others may believe a combination of these ideals. Take a few minutes to develop a belief statement. What is it that you believe?
For those with a strong faith, consider prayer as you move through this journey. The reflection through prayer will provide a greater clarity and direction.