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How I narrowed my options and finally figured out what I wanted to do when I “grew up”

options

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Two quick announcements: Today’s blog is a throwback to May of this year! We’re re-sharing today because it’s the perfect blog to compliment the holiday special we’re running on the Passion Profile Short Course. Scroll down for $50 off the course.

And … it’s not too late to register for the FREE workshop we’re doing today (December 5th) at 1pm Eastern: How to tell if the problem is you, or the job (and how to fix it, either way).

This workshop was a big hit earlier this year, so we brought it back for one last go-around in 2017! Catch it while you can, because we won’t be doing this one again in 2018. And now, on to the blog!


 

When I was 7, I told anyone who asked that when I grew up I was going to be a journalist. I loved reading and writing, and sometimes I’d flip my mini indoor trampoline on its end and sit behind it and force a babysitter to “watch me on TV” as I read my version of the evening news.

When I was 15, I altered that to “journalist or lawyer” (because my teen years were the ones where I proved, mostly to my poor parents, just how good I was at driving my points home, debating anything and everything, and never backing down from a fight).

When I was 19, I decided to major in Public Relations because it was the closest thing to journalism that my school offered. And even though I was far from sold on either public relations or journalism, I didn’t know what I else I wanted to do.

And when I was 22, I flirted with the idea of becoming an archaeologist, mostly because I’d majored in art history and loved it and had also watched The Mummy a lot as a kid.

Since then I’ve played around with the idea of becoming, in no particular order: A staff writer for an online women’s magazine, a relationship advice columnist, a marriage and family therapist, a life and career coach, and oh yeah … a private detective (my friends still want me to do this one).

You might think that these things are all really random. But they’re not. You might also think that it was hard to choose between them. But to be honest, once I knew how to choose, it wasn’t very difficult at all.

THE GOLDEN THREAD

Kristen and I have talked about this before (and we’re definitely not the first to believe this), but it’s worth repeating:

There’s often a deeper pattern — a “golden thread,” if you will — that ties the seemingly random things we’re attracted to together and makes it all clear in the bigger picture.

In my case, you wouldn’t think that being a lawyer, journalist, advice columnist, career coach, marriage therapist, archaeologist, or private detective have all that much in common, at least not across the board.

But when I don’t nit-pick each one — when I instead zoom out and look at them as a whole — there are some clear ties:

  • To start with the easy stuff, they all require a ton of writing and research and verbal communication.
  • And to dig a little deeper, each of them also involves persuasion. How can I say this just the right way so that the jury is compelled? How do I communicate my point to a client in a way they’ll resonate with? How do I make a case for why a certain culture that lived 2,000 years ago is relevant to us today?
  • They each require a lot of emotional intelligence. You need to be able to understand how people think and feel, to have enough empathy to put yourself in their shoes and see the world from their perspective.
  • Maybe most importantly, all of them are about digging into mysteries in one way or another. What happened here? Why did this person do, think, or feel this? What makes them tick? What’s at the root of this?

When I zoom out, it seems pretty clear that I could have been happy doing any of these things. And I think that logic applies to everyone else, too.

Most of us are attracted to a handful of themes that could manifest themselves in so many different ways.

And that’s good news, because it means that you don’t have to pick just one thing and do it forever. You can have multiple careers across vastly different fields and industries throughout your life.

But you can’t do everything right now. Which means that at least for now, you do have to choose (until it’s time to choose again).

So … how do we choose when any number of things might end up being “right?”

YOU’VE GOT TO STOP FOCUSING ON “WHAT” AND START FOCUSING ON “HOW”

Here’s why it was ultimately easy to settle upon becoming a life and career coach (and business owner), over everything else on my list:

Because more than anything, I value freedom.

The way I saw it, becoming a lawyer meant I would have to work in an office from 9-5 (or let’s face it, 7-7). I didn’t want to be chained to a desk or to a court schedule that I couldn’t control.

The same is true of marriage and family therapy. I didn’t want to have an office or “standard” office hours. I might be able to open my own practice and be in charge, but I would still be tied to a physical location.

With archaeology, one of the biggest problems was the funding. You can’t just go out on adventures whenever you feel like it; your projects need funding (which means you can’t always control what you research). There would definitely be a cap on how much money I could ever make, which didn’t sit well with me.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. How you do something is often more important than what you’re doing.

I wanted a way that I could be my own boss. I was always happiest when I was in charge of my own time and creativity, and when I could decide how much money I wanted to make.

That’s what owning my own business has done for me: I get to dig into mysteries, do a lot of writing, and use my emotional intelligence (i.e., I get to do WHAT I love), and I can do all of that in a way that honors my need for freedom (i.e., HOW I do it feels right).

None of those other careers could have done that for me.

HOW TO DO THIS FOR YOURSELF

Most of us have trouble choosing what to do because we’ve made the mistake of assuming that all of our choices are created equal.

When I realized how much I valued freedom, it became clear that all of the career options I was considering weren’t equal at all; one clearly stood out ahead of the rest.

The way you figure out how you’re meant to combine your passion with your work in a way that aligns with your deeper values is through your Passion Profile.

If you need a refresher, take the Passion Profile Quiz and read your result. I also gave a good summary of each Profile in a previous blog.

If you’re stuck and can’t figure out which direction to go in, stop focusing on the what and start paying attention to the how.

It’s like doing the second half of a math equation and getting frustrated when you keep getting no answer — you haven’t done the first part! How can you expect to find the answer when you’ve left half of the question un-done?

IF YOU NEED HELP WITH THIS, READ ON

The Passion Profile Short Course is like a recipe for your career path. It’s the “secret sauce” that takes the thought out of trying to plot your career direction and prevents you from wasting years of your life hopping from job to job, hoping that you eventually stumble across something you love.

The PPSC might be right for you if:

  • You’re looking for a way to get un-stuck that doesn’t involve a lot of time, money, or complication (it’s a 5-ish hour video-based DIY course).
  • You’ve been hoping for a simple answer to this whole “finding career direction” thing.
  • You don’t know where to start and wish someone would tell you what to do about your career situation.
  • You felt like the Passion Profile Quiz described you really well, and you thought, “How can I get more of THIS?” when reading your result.

The PPSC is available 24/7, but between now and Tuesday, December 12th, we’re offering the course for $199 instead of the usual $249 — that’s $50 off its normal price!

Need more details? Check out the full PPSC page to see whether this is right for you.

Remember, you have until December 12th to take advantage of this special holiday price. After that, the course goes back to its normal rate.

We hope to see some of you in there! 🙂

Rachel (& Kristen)

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Your next career step is for now, not forever

forever

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you can listen to me read it instead!

(Click the orange play button to start playing right here on the page, or download and save it for later by clicking the downward arrow at the top right of the box below.)

 


 

The other day I was on a walk with my dog, which is as great a time for mental wandering as it is physical wandering, when something weird happened — I remembered a part of my life I had completely forgotten about.

I’m not talking about something that happened in a single day, and that naturally faded from memory. I’m talking about something I did almost every day for many months (maybe even a year), and had totally brushed to the back of some dusty corner of my mind.

Has this happened to you before? I wonder if it’s a side effect of getting “older” (I still use that word lightly, since I’m not even 30). It would make sense! The more experiences you acquire, the more there is to remember, which means older and seemingly unimportant stuff falls through the mental cracks.

Anyway, the thing I remembered was my tenure as a writer for one of those celebrity gossip websites.

To be fair, it was a bit more highbrow, and it dealt in more than just celebrities. There were articles about music and film and food and other “lifestyle” things.

My “beat” (if you can call it that) was relationships — analyzing celebrity breakups, giving advice, that kind of thing.

I’m not really surprised I forgot about this weird stint in my career — I mean, it didn’t even pay, so obviously it wasn’t all that memorable — but now it’s got me thinking about the random, twisting path that led me to where I am.

THE TIMELINE OF RANDOMNESS

Here’s a snapshot of everything I’ve done in the past 8 years:

  • 2009: Kristen and I started writing a relationship advice book for college-aged girls while we were seniors in college.
  • Summer 2010: Graduated college, interned for the summer in the PR department of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
  • Fall 2010: Decided I wanted to go to grad school for art history, so enrolled in community college night courses to learn Latin and German. Did this while working full-time as an Events & Promotions Coordinator for an investment firm.
  • Winter 2011: Hated Latin and German, so scrapped the art history idea. Decided grad school for psychology would be better, so enrolled in online psych classes at the community college.
  • Spring 2011: Still working on the relationships book, I decided we’d have a better chance of getting published if we’d been published before. So I pitched myself to a few online outlets, including the celebrity site. I wrote articles at my full-time job because they never gave me enough to do.
  • Summer 2011: Literally FLUNKED my psych courses. Not because they weren’t easy (they were incredibly easy), but because I just didn’t care. It was the first time I’d ever felt that unmotivated by school, and it scared me.
  • Fall 2011: Started going to therapy, because I was so unhappy and felt broken. Also, I wanted to know if I’d made the right choice in dropping out of psych, because I was still interested in therapy as a career.
  • Winter 2012: Fired my therapist (who was terrible), but did an informational interview with a therapist who also wrote for the celebrity site. She gave me so much insight into the profession, and also introduced me to the concept of coaching. Quit the celebrity site shortly after that.
  • Spring 2012: Quit my full-time job and started nannying for a set of two-year-old twins. Kristen and I enrolled in coach training and launched our first website, which was about life, relationships, and career coaching for Millennials.
  • Fall 2012/Winter 2013: Quit nannying (my $ situation was pretty dire) and started working full-time as an admin at a law office. Finished coach training.
  • Spring 2013: Launched our second website, Clarity on Fire, and started blogging regularly. Kept writing for various other sites to build our audience.
  • Winter 2014: Quit the law firm and went full-time with coaching (which was TERRIFYING and, in all honesty, way too soon. But we survived). Re-did our site for the third time and began focusing on life and career, not relationships (somewhere along the way, the book was scrapped).
  • Late 2014—present: Re-did our site for a fourth Launched the Passion Profile Quiz (which has been taken well over 300,000 times now). Got published on sites like Business Insider, TIME, and Forbes. Launched 2 courses. Wrote enough blogs to fill at least 3 thick books. Coached many hundreds of people over many thousands of hours.

So, just in case you didn’t catch that — in the span of about 4 years, I bounced around from book writing to art history to events and promotions to psychology to nannying to legal work and finally, to coaching (and even within that, bounced around more).

THE DOMINO EFFECT IS REAL

I have never known exactly what I wanted to do with my life. When I pitched myself to that celebrity site, I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d never done a real pitch before! I just knew, at the time, that I wanted to write a book. And I figured that a published author should, you know, be a published author.

Was it a tatty little online rag that no one ever read, and shortly went defunct? You bet!

And did we eventually scrap the whole relationship self-help book? We did! (Even though getting that book published had been the whole impetus behind pitching myself to the celebrity site in the first place.)

But here’s the critical thing — the writing gig paid off, even though the original reason I did it fell through.

I got to put a few published articles in my portfolio, which helped me get published at more relevant sites later on, which helped us build our audience when we launched our coaching business.

That gig was part of a chain of events that helped me become a successful coach … even though when I started, I didn’t even know coaching existed as a career.

EVERYTHING IS “FOR NOW,” NOT FOREVER

I’m sharing this now, in particular, because it feels like almost everyone I talk to these days is afraid of making a career move before they have all the information.

There’s a whole legion of people who are afraid that unless they know exactly what they want to do, and exactly how to get there (without making any missteps along the way), they shouldn’t begin.

So, I’m going to tell you what I’ve been telling them:

Start where there’s an opening.

I’ve never had a big plan. I guess I’ve just been unintentionally good at doing the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing (and often failing, flunking, and dead-ending along the way) … until I land somewhere I like.

I’ve just started wherever there was an opening — a hint of curiosity or a mild interest in something — and I’ve pursued it until it taught me what I needed to know or led me to the next point in my path.

I’m not saying that you can’t get clear on your career direction and make smart, thoughtful decisions about where you want to go before you take any action (I’m a coach; I help people do that all day long).

I am saying, however, that at some point you’ve got to become OK with not knowing everything before you start, and trusting that sometimes the next step is only revealed after you’ve taken the first step.

Also … no step is permanent. It is very unlikely that you’ll ever get to a point where you enjoy something so much that you want to do it for the rest of your life.

And hey, for those of you who think that sounds depressing — it’s not. It’s a relief! You’re meant to evolve. You’re not meant to pick one thing and stick with it until you die.

Earlier, when I said that I’ve never really known what I wanted to do with my life, I meant that. I still mean it right now.

For now, coaching works for me. Having my own business feels good. But can I guarantee that what I’m doing (and the way I’m doing it) will always work for me? No. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that at some point, I’ll grow tired of some (or even all) of it.

Everything I do is for now, not forever. I trust that when it’s time to evolve, the next right step will become obvious. And when that happens, I’ll follow the nudge of curiosity where it leads. Because it has always taken me where I needed to go.

What about you? Have you been freaking out about making a career move because you don’t know exactly where you’re going? Share with me, in the comments.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL ALSO LOVE …

How you can stop freaking out about not knowing the future

Are you a hummingbird or a jackhammer?

The Adventurer’s Spirit

Much Love,

Rachel (& Kristen)


FREE WORKSHOP NEXT WEEK!

We’re hosting a free online workshop next Tuesday, December 5, at 1pm Eastern:

How to tell if the problem is you, or the job (and how to fix it, either way)

You may remember that we did this same workshop back in May. We brought it back by popular demand! If you missed it that time, here’s your chance (we won’t be doing any workshops on this particular topic in 2018)!

You’re going to walk away from this workshop with clarity about …

  • How to put a stop to the vicious cycle of job-hopping (or obsessively wondering if your job is right for you);
  • Our formula for discerning when the problem is YOU, versus when it’s actually the JOB;
  • The immediate steps you need to take to find career direction and alignment, regardless of what your situation looks like;
  • The results hundreds of other people have had after taking those steps;
  • … and so many more nuggets of wisdom you can start putting into action right away.

Register now. Space is limited to 1,000 people (which seems like a lot, but isn’t given how many people are seeing this email).

If you can’t join live, that’s OK. We’ll send you a time-sensitive replay video (which means it will expire a week later).

If this sounds like something your friends or colleagues would enjoy, forward it on to them! Anyone and everyone is welcome.

See you there! 🙂

Register now to save your seat.

P.S. Even if you were there the last time we did this workshop, feel free to register again! We always find that you get even more out of something — maybe things you weren’t ready to hear the first time — the second time you watch. Plus, the two of us always have new things to say!

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