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

options

Quick note: Scroll to the bottom of this post to check out something special we’re doing for only the next WEEK! 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 my last 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

Today we re-launched the Passion Profile Short Course, which is where we help you get clear on how you’re meant to combine your career and passion, so that you can move on to pursuing what that passion actually is.

It 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 your Passion Profile Quiz result 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, May 23rd, we’re giving you a few special things:

  • $50 off: Instead of the usual $249, you can get the course for $199 (use code PPSCMAY2017).
  • OR, $100 off: If you want to sign up with a friend or a larger group, you can ALL get the program for $149 each, instead of $249. See our email from last week with instructions about how to get the group deal.
  • Bonus video about Passion Profiles and relationships: Having a different Passion Profile than your spouse, family, or colleagues can cause tension. We’re talking about how to dissolve that and use your Profile to strengthen all of your relationships.

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

Remember, you have until May 23rd to take advantage of this re-launch. After that, the course goes back to its usual price.

We hope to see some of you in there! 🙂

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’re now recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Rachel reading this week’s blog:

Rachel (& Kristen)

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Wanting to break your leg in the shower (and other signs you need to leave your job)

leave your job

I was doing a workshop about passion and career for a women’s group a few years ago, and at the end I opened it up for questions and personal stories. One woman stood up and candidly shared how she felt about her job:

“I dread going to work every day,” she said. “I sometimes stand in the shower before work wondering, ‘If I slipped and broke my leg, how much work could I miss?’”

She’s not alone. A couple of months ago, another client confided this in me:

“I’m allergic to peanuts, and on my worst days at work, I’ve half-considered eating a Snickers bar from the vending machine so I have an inarguable excuse to leave for the day.”

These thoughts might sound dramatic. But for anyone who’s been in a toxic (or at least deeply incompatible) work environment and felt this level of dread about their job, you’ve likely had fleeting thoughts just like these. I know I have.

And it makes sense, if you think about it.

When you feel like you don’t belong in a particular job or company, and yet you’re simultaneously reliant on it because it’s providing for your very survival, you’re bound to feel trapped. And anytime you feel trapped, your mind is going to frantically start looking for any possible escape route.

The more trapped you feel, the more extreme the mental escape strategies. Thus, peanuts and shower accidents.

Here’s what I told both of these women:

“When you’ve reached that level of dread, there’s really no turning back.

Are there things you could do to try to improve your situation? Sure. Are there mindset changes you could make to feel a bit better about your job? Of course.

But honestly, why put yourself through that when it’s so abundantly obvious that this is just not the right place for you? That’s swimming against the current.

If you’re completely miserable, do yourself a favor and get out. Find a bridge job, if you need to. There’s no need to waste months or years of your life feeling chronically trapped and unhappy.”

Extreme dread is one pretty obvious sign that it’s time to leave your job. But there are other, more subtle signs that you’re in the wrong place and need a change.

SIGNS THAT YOU’RE IN THE WRONG JOB

If any of the following ring true for you, that’s a sign you’re in the wrong job and it might be time to start considering other options:

  • You’ve tried to improve your working situation — maybe you’ve asked for more flexibility, or a raise, or the chance to work on new creative projects, or for more collaboration and in-depth feedback — and yet nothing much changes and you’re still miserable.
  • When you look at your boss’ job, you have no desire to eventually step into it … or any other job within your company, for that matter.
  • You can’t get behind your company’s bigger mission or the impact it’s having on the world because it’s not aligned with your values.
  • Everyone you work with is chronically negative, burnt out, or disengaged, and being around them all day completely drains you.
  • Imagining spending the next several years at this job nearly sends you into a panic attack.
  • The stress of your job is negatively impacting your physical, mental, or emotional health and making you sick.
  • You don’t like who you are at this job. You feel like it’s turning you into a version of yourself that you hardly recognize and don’t particularly like.
  • You just know in your gut that this isn’t where you belong, even if you can’t logically explain it to anyone else.

WHEN IT’S WORTH STICKING WITH YOUR JOB

Just because your job isn’t currently bringing you the satisfaction or happiness you want, doesn’t mean it’s automatically a lost cause. If any of the following are true, it may be worth sticking with your current job and trying to make improvements before you give up on it entirely.

  • You assume you can’t get your need for flexibility, creativity, growth, etc., met at this company, but you haven’t actually spoken up and asked for what you want. Before you turn in your two weeks’ notice, have an honest conversation with your manager about what would reignite your engagement and see what you can co-brainstorm.
  • You love your company and your team, but there’s that one coworker who annoys the crap out of you and can ruin an otherwise perfectly good day. Don’t let that one person bully you out of job that is actually a great fit for you. Share your concerns with your boss, and ask if you can have limited interaction with that person.
  • Your job has a lot of great parts, but it’s not meeting a particular need or desire of yours. For example, you wish it had a few more people your age, or that it was making more of a social impact, or that it gave you the opportunity to travel. Before you up and leave your job, see where else you could get that need met outside of work.
  • You were happy with your job, but lately it’s been going through a rough period (a merger, a massive deadline, a restructuring, etc.), and you don’t know how to feel in the meantime. Give things time to settle down before reevaluating whether this is a place where you could be happy again.
  • You don’t love your current role, but it’s leading you toward your dream job down the line. Sometimes you’ve got to work your way up to your ideal job, which might mean sticking it out through some lower-level positions or part-time gigs to build up relevant experience. But keeping that bigger vision in mind can help you get through your current day-to-day.

WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP ARE YOU IN WITH YOUR JOB?

Think about this from another perspective.

If you were dating someone and you started to dread hearing from them, you found yourself coming up with excuses for why you couldn’t meet up, you couldn’t see any future with them, and you didn’t like who you were in their presence … you’d pretty quickly come to the conclusion that this relationship wasn’t working and you needed to break up.

However, if you were in a stable, loving relationship with someone, but you had a major disagreement or you were going through a rocky period, you wouldn’t automatically assume the relationship needed to end. It might just need some attention, or adjustments, or better communication to get back on track.

Try thinking about your job through that same lens.

If you thought of yourself as being in a relationship with your job … is it a healthy, equal relationship? A toxic one? Or a solid one that’s just going through a rough patch?

Share your answer with me in the comments below!

WANT TO EXPLORE THIS MORE? JOIN US IN ONE WEEK FOR A FREE WORKSHOP

Rachel and I have SO much more to share on this topic, which is why we’re hosting a FREE online workshop next Tuesday (May 16th) at 1pm Eastern to dive into it deeper.

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

If this blog resonated with you, you’re going to want to be there. We’re talking about …

  • The signs that the problem really IS you, not the job.
  • And on the other hand, the signs that the problem is about the job, NOT you.
  • The 4 Passion Profiles, and how to tell if you’re in the wrong job for your Profile.
  • How to get into the right career for your Profile.
  • How to stop job hopping and finally find fulfillment.

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

If you can’t join live, that’s OK. We’ll send you a time-sensitive replay (AKA, it will expire a few days later, so make sure you find time to watch it).

If this sounds like something your friends or colleagues would enjoy, forward it on to them! We’d love for them to join us, too.

See you there! 🙂

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’re now recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Kristen reading this week’s blog:

Kristen (+ Rachel)

Register now to save your seat.

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