Making the Leap From Your Strengths, Interests, and Values to Available JobsJuly 23, 2021
Creating a Balanced Life is a Cause Worthy of the EffortNovember 5, 2021
There is an age-old adage. “Keep your feet planted on the ground and the stars in your eyes.” What exactly does this mean? I believe a solid interpretation of it is to be practical but don’t lose sight of your dreams. That is a perfect lead into what we are talking about today. How do I turn my passion into work that supports my lifestyle?
Joseph Campbell is credited with the famous quote, “Follow your bliss.” In other words, pay attention to the things in your life that bring you joy or when you are doing something that brings you into the experience of “flow”. The term flow refers to doing what you love so much that you are in a flow of energy when you are doing it. Time passes and you don’t even notice it. That sounds ideal. But how do I turn “my bliss” into a career that pays my bills?
Challenges do arise when one tries to turn their bliss into a career opportunity
When I was in college, I was an idealist.I wanted to change the world in a positive way. I was interested in International Development so I interned with a women’s organization in Tanzania, East Africa. They were doing meaningful things like combating domestic violence and fighting poverty.
I soon learned that work in International Development involved much more work in bureaucracy and dealing with details like paperwork versus working “on the ground” with individuals. I was spending most of my time in the office performing tedious detailed tasks which is not work that plays to my natural strengths.
Trying on Idealism vs Pragmatism
I was definitely falling into the “idealism” bracket. When it proved difficult to monetize “my bliss” then I just tried the “pragmatist” route of just getting a paycheck that would pay my bills. I ended up working as a program assistant which was a job where I was responsible for dotting a lot of I’s and crossing a lot of T’s. That kind of work kept me busy but didn’t follow my natural strengths which work more with big picture thinking than being responsible for details. Completely following my bliss wasn’t working and neither was taking a job just for a paycheck.
Following both of these strategies individually did not prove to be effective for me and they fall short for most individuals
We need a mix of a job that brings us joy and pays for the lifestyle we desire. When you are going through the career design process you will find that the process helps ground the idealist and broadens the horizons of the pragmatist. This tactic looks more at what you want to do than what you can do.
Bring in the Calvary
In my online career coaching tool, My Career Design Studio, I address finding the balance between idealism and pragmatism. You achieve this by focusing on what you really want and then finding your pathway to it and getting as close as you possibly can.
What positions attract us and why?
Once we identify an occupation, we take a look at what it is about that occupation that attracts us. A lot of times it is status or salary that is driving the decision rather than the actual work itself. For instance, a lot of individuals want to write books for a living. But when you get down to brass tacks, what they really want is the living and the notoriety of being an author rather than doing the actual work of typing in isolation and staring at a small screen for eight hours a day.
Specific jobs, like being a professor, offer status but not a high income. If you want to be a lawyer or a doctor those jobs offer financial rewards but often have long and unpredictable hours.
If you want a big salary, take a look at what that means to you. What would you do with the money you earn and how would that affect your lifestyle? What you may end up with is a job that is not a good fit that doesn’t bring the happiness you were pursuing in the first place.
The Ultimate Career Question
We ask the question: If money, ability and education were no object, what would you want to do?
Start with your Ideal Workplace
In my online career coaching tool, My Career Design Studio, there is an exercise called My Nine Lives. It has you list all the occupations that have ever appealed to you. Then in the section My Career Design Essentials you fill in what you want in a workplace. For instance, this could be a workplace that allows you to perform in some way or one that has opportunity for physical challenge.
This is where we begin to get more practical.
The next part of the program is My Career Priorities which helps you rank the things you have identified as important in the categories of “have to have”, “nice to have” and “icing on the cake.” The “have to have” category are the things that are non-negotiable for you. The “nice to have” category are things that would be pleasant but are not essential and the “icing on the cake” are things that would be just wonderful but are not at all a necessity for your work environment. Prioritizing what you have to have in a career in this way helps the idealist in you to work with the pragmatist to make your dream job into a reality.
Our country’s workplace dilemma
A 2020 Gallup poll uncovered that only 36% of US workers were actively engaged in their work. That leaves two-thirds who were partially or actively disengaged. Those figures are remarkable. They have dire ramifications for businesses and individuals alike. Feeling disengaged with your career can have a negative impact on your professional success, your health and your well-being.
Idealism and Pragmatism make nice
Combining idealism with pragmatism is the best combination for an engaging career that leads to a satisfying work experience. My goal with my online career coaching tool, My Career Design Studio, is to help you find that balance and create a meaningful, fulfilling career that supports your happy life. Get started on your career design adventure by signing up for my free seven-day trial today!