Resolve to do more of what you love in 2015.
The world is a better place when people do what they do best, especially to benefit other people. You are a better person when you do what you do best. You’re happier, more successful, and more satisfied. Paradoxically, the more you focus on doing what you do best, the less you focus on yourself. When you are miserable and living in your weakness you are more inclined to self-pity.
However, when you’re living in your strength consistently, you free up your mind to focus on other things – and other people – and in offering what you do best to the world.
So how do you do more of what you love? Track your energy. It’s deceptively simple. Take a week, any week, and track the activities that you do that give you energy and the ones that drain you of energy. Then, the following week, figure out how to do a little more of what gives you energy and a little less of what drains you. Repeat.
What if your day-to-day existence doesn’t provide much opportunity to do what you do best and, thus, your energy tracking shows nothing but a deficit? It might be time for a reset. In mid-January I’ll be launching my book, Reset: How Do Get Paid to Do What You Love with strategies for resetting your career and figuring out your best-fit career.
Nine times out of 10 the thing that is holding you back in your career leap is fear. Here’s how it usually sounds:
ME: “You seem to have an idea about what to do. So why don’t you do it?”
What I spend my time doing as a career coach is exploring it. What’s causing the fear? What’s at the root? What’s the next step to overcome it?
Fear is normal. The goal isn’t to ignore it. The goal is to acknowledge it and do what you want to do anyway.
There are few decisions, especially related to career (and especially in a strong economy), that are irreversible. For too long we’ve believed that if we jump from where we’re at there may be nothing better.
If you stay on the dock, you’ll never know. So fight fear and jump. If you don’t like where you land, jump again. And keep jumping until you land where the world needs you most.
When you get offered a high-paying salary or contract for work, stop and ask yourself why. You either get paid because your skill-level is at a premium, the nature of the work is awful, or you’re going to need to give up your most precious resource — time.
Many years ago I was having a philosophical conversation with a colleague about the exorbitant salaries that consulting companies offered recent grads at Rice. I couldn’t figure out why. My colleague made an interesting point that has stuck with me ever since:
When a large organization pays a recent, relatively unskilled college grad a high salary, it is likely because they want one of two things in return:
1) They want their time. And lots of it. Like, much more than 40 hrs per week, or…
2) They want them to do tedious work — the kind that the top dogs don’t want to do and would rather delegate.
They’re probably not paying the recent grad for their skill level, because no matter how good they are they probably lack true skills in the work. High salaries are a way of influencing grads into a line of work because they help them feel valued. Again, not a bad thing. The key while exploring the offer is to ask yourself if you’re willing to make the trade-off: time and/or tedium in exchange for money.
For the record, low paying jobs can also require lots of time from workers and/or tedious work. Those are the worst.
I read this article yesterday in the Deseret News by Tim Clark, a leadership consultant and columnist. He interviewed more than 1,000 employees at varying levels in all sorts of organizations and asked them “what matters most at work.”
The results were surprisingly consistent, he says. Ninety percent of the time the top two answers were the same:
2) Personal contribution.
More than money, titles, travel, or other perks or experiences, these two answers rose to the top as “what matters most.” So why is it sometimes so hard to believe that these things are really what matters most? I look around my own office and wonder if relationships and my personal contributions are really as valuable to me as the paycheck I bring home. After all, money has a way of making itself seem pretty important. And I think I figured out why.
No, it’s not because I have three kids and one on the way (surprise!), although that’s definitely part of it. It turns out that according to a recent study by some smart people at the University of New Jersey, money actually can affect happiness up to a certain point. In a survey of (again) 1,000 Americans, researchers found that money equals satisfaction, but only to an extent. From the article:
“More money does not necessarily buy more happiness, but less money is associated with emotional pain,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Perhaps $75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure.”
So $75,000 is the magic threshold where the amount of money you make can no longer really buy happiness, or said another way, where money can no longer ease the burdens that get in the way of well-being. Until you hit $75K, money can seem important because you need it to pay your bills and feed your family (I can’t serve my colleagues on a dinner platter or feed my family a leadership curriculum, though that creates an interesting image in my mind). But anything above the $75K mark really isn’t necessary to do what you need to do to be happy. At that point, well-being can be completely satisfied from a different place. At that point, it’s up to you.
In the meantime, whether you make that much or not, I have found from personal experience that living according to certain principles, many of which are presented in this blog, can help you manage the “burdens” that can get in the way of happiness, leading to well-being. And, of course, the sooner you find what you love to do and start doing it the happier you will be (and, I believe the money will come because you are doing what you love).
In the end, I think the question we should ask is this: how can I build my work around 1) relationships and 2) personal contribution to kill two birds with one stone — building relationship and sharing personal contributions WHILE traveling, making money, and racking up titles? Why not have it both ways — make great money while serving others and contributing your strengths? Maybe that’s the goal…
I recently launched a side business providing career coaching to help people do more of what they love and/or reset their careers.
It’s really taking off and I recently had a client ask me how I did it. The successful launch really came down to three things:
1. A Niche.
Seth Godin changed the way I think about a niche. I used to try to be everything to everyone. I felt like the coaching I did could be useful whether you were a 19-year-old college student or a 40-year-old career-shifter. This may be true, but the best thing I did was get really narrow in my niche. The way I did this was by writing this post, which was more for me than for you. I needed to clarify who I served. Even then, I felt I might be limiting myself. At one point I even Googled “when is your niche to narrow?” Guess what? The answer is never. If I’m a customer, the more narrow the niche, the more I feel like you were made to serve me specifically. I feel like you getme. Think of it this way: if your niche is only 50 people in the U.S., be the one who is going to serve and delight those 50 customers consistently over time for the rest of their lives and you’ve got a sustainable business. Define your niche.
2. A Platform.
This could be its own post, but suffice it to say that you need a landing pad. A gathering place. You need somewhere for your tribe to come together and hear your thoughts, share theirs, and learn more about what you have to offer. A website or blog is one of the best platforms and is easy to share. This could also be a facebook page, a twitter account, or any other social media.
3. A First Follower.
The biggest game changer by far for my coaching business was my first follower. Actually, there were two of them. Several months ago I provided some free coaching to two individuals looking to make changes in their careers. I did everything I could to add value and “delight” them just because. In fact, I really had no expectation of anything coming of those sessions. I simply wanted to help and share my skills to benefit them. Afterward, they inspired me to launch a business and funneled friends my way. I did (and do!) my best to add value to their lives and, in exchange, they continue to refer business. At a certain point, momentum kicks in and business takes off. I’m nearing that tipping point now and it’s all thanks to those two early adopters who believed in the service and shared it with their friends. This, of course, means that you need to have something noteworthy to share (all the more reason to discover your talents and use them!) and you need to be sharing it.
In my opinion, every business starts on a foundation of at least these three things. There are likely more and you can tell me what they are. But if you’re looking for somewhere to start, start here!
I’ve coached several people over the past few weeks who have all struggled with the same dilemma. I figured if they are struggling you might be also so let me address it here.
How do you make your next career move and ensure that it’s not the “wrong” move? How do you choose confidently so that you won’t look back and wish you’d done something different?
As with everything else in career, the answer is both simple and difficult. The simple answer is that you can never 100% guarantee that you won’t regret it. But you also can’t live in fear of regret. So make a choice and go with it, trusting that you can course correct.
The difficult answer is that you make the choice that is most aligned with who you are because you guarantee with greater certainty before you ever sign the contract or start the job that you are set up for success.
How do you figure this out?
The process is challenging but worth it. You need to get really clear about who you are and then use that information as a lens to analyze your options for fit. Pick the option that is most aligned with who you are and you can move forward with a high level of certainty that the option you are about to choose is congruent, and congruence is key.
“Who you are” breaks down into three things: values, talents, and ideal environment.
Values are why you do what you do. They are your core beliefs.
Talents are what you do best. The innate abilities you have that separate you from others and make you unique.
Ideal environment is where you thrive; under what circumstances you do your best work.
Piece these three together and you’ve got a comprehensive “profile of self” that you can use as your lens.
This profile of self is both easy and difficult to create — easy in that you already know all the answers and difficult to actually create in that it takes some serious reflection. Some people can reflect on their own and simply need to ask the right questions. Others work better talking this through with someone who can help them synethsize the information.
If you need help, I have two options:1. Email me at email@example.com. I’ve been career coaching folks for years and helping them sort through this info. I take on a small group of coaching clients and will be taking on at least 2 more people in the next few weeks. I simply don’t have the time with my current job to coach everyone who reaches out, but I can handle a group of about 7 or 8 people. If you’re interested, reach out and I can send you more info.
2. In late December/early January I’m launching a 6-year project into the world — Reset: How to Get Paid to Be You. It’s a 150-page book I’ve been working on for way too long to help people figure out their career path. I’m pumped, and anxious, and ready to get it out there to help people figure these things out. It’s loaded with activities, case studies, and questions to help you create your own profile of self. If you’re interested in being notified when it comes out leave a comment below, email me, or subscribe to the blog below:
I’ll be providing an offer or deal to my subscribers a few weeks before the book releases. The easiest way to get in on it is to subscribe and join the tribe. It will also be available on Amazon in both e-book and print format.
Here’s to starting the new year doing more of what you love!
So you’ve put together your values, talents, and ideal environments into a profile of self. Now what?
This is where the government comes in.
Of the many things the government puts out into the world, one of them is actually useful and it’s compiled and maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s called the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) and it’s essentially an index of zillions of jobs with a forecast for their demand, description of what they do (talents), the environment they do it in (ideal environment), and the type of person that might do well (values). It’s not a perfect resource. At all. But it’s a great start.
Check it out here: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
And no, the government isn’t giving me a tax break for hocking their products.
Of course, nothing can take the place of testing out a job yourself or talking to someone who has been successful doing it. These are two great ways to figure out if the job will align with your authentic self. But the OOH can at least provide some entry-level information and it’s easy to navigate and read.
Thank goodness for the bureaucrats.
By the way, why does Uncle Sam look so mad?
They’re written for robots. Or cogs. When a committee or hiring manager develops a job description, they determine what needs they have and what type of work they will need the new employee to do. They aren’t thinking of you specifically, but rather of a general type of skillset that they would need a cog to come in and contribute to keep the machine running.
When you get hired, they are simply saying, “This person has the baseline skillset that we need to do the job.” However, if you come in and become robotic in your execution of the job description as it is written you sacrifice the most important part — you.
Yes, you need to do the basics of the job exceptionally well. But at some point the time will come for you to add additional value to the role and do it in a different way — in the way YOU would do it.
The job description defines WHAT needs to be done. Your values are WHO you are bringing to the role and WHY you do it and your strengths are HOW you get the job done.
Don’t get sucked into the trap of becoming the job description. Do the job description, but do it your way, according to who you are.
Rest assured that who you bring to the job is enough or they wouldn’t have hired you in the first place. Wow them by adding value above and beyond the job description. The easiest way to do that? Bring your whole self to work every day.
That thing you do that you think is commonplace? That everyone knows how to do? Guess what? It’s not commonplace. And people don’t do it like you do it.
The way you are able to empathize with people? Move them? Tell stories? Connect with them? No one does it like you.
The way you analyze information? Unpack a problem? Create a system? It’s unique. In fact it’s more than unique. It’s a talent.
So is the way you convey information in writing or speaking. And the way you arrange information on a page to create a design. And the way you build connections with people to create a sense of team. And the 1,000 other things you do that you probably take for granted and assume everyone knows how to do.
The cruel paradox of talent is that because it’s innate it also means we don’t have to work hard at it nor does it drain our energy. By it’s very nature it’s fluid, and energizing, and natural. Therefore, we often discount our talents because they are so natural. Turning talent into a strength takes work. It takes investment. But talents by themselves are just a part of who we are.
Career is all about not just discovering what you do best but accepting it for what it is — unique. Then building your days around it, developing it, and using it to add value to the world.
One of the greatest challenges I see time and time again in coaching folks is helping them recognize their own greatness. Even harder is getting them to accept it. Don’t fight it. Embrace the potential that what you do might not be commonplace. In fact, it might be your greatest competitive advantage. Invest in it.
It’s the best investment you can make.
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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