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Work? Bliss? How?

Work? Bliss? How?
Over the past 15 years I have worked with clients of all ages who are looking for more satisfaction in their work and lives. This column will explore various career-related topics, but I thought I would start by answering some of the most commonly asked career questions. I welcome your questions for future columns!


Daisy Swan

Q: I want to do something I’m passionate about, but I don’t know what that is. How do I find this?

A: Be patient. It can take a while to find the right career; this is true for most people. It takes time to find what sticks and maintains your interest. You might even be tempted to walk away from something that feels good but which leaves you longing for a little more.In that case you know something’s working for you so you have a clue that you’re on the right track. It takes paying attention to these experiences, these clues. They allow you to pursue whatever it is that you’ve liked about a job, and potentially apply those experiences in a new way.

Q: What does that mean? Apply these in a new way?

A: That means looking at what you’re doing and becoming really aware of what you like and don’t like about it. What would you like to do more of? Would you do it if you could do it with other types of people or in a different environment? Often we gravitate towards the “right” thing but then have to “realign” ourselves so that we’re really getting all of the pieces to fit right. For example, one of my clients was an illustrator of very detailed technical illustrations. She did this for years and it turned into drudgery for her. When we started working together we had to revisit her love of drawing and let her re-connect with the artist she had always been. As she started to enjoy that again she was able to appreciate the other aspects of design that she was drawn to. She loved kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing and gardening “she held great appreciation for a local landscape designer’s work. With encouragement she started taking writing classes which helped her to reconnect to herself; she started to express herself again. We also had her take a couple of landscape design classes to see if this held any interest for her. This is where she really bloomed! She had tremendous doubts about trying something new like this, but she was quickly recognized for her design eye, and it was so energizing for her. She couldn’t believe the fit was so right after all of these years of being bored at work; we’d found the right blend of her various interests and skills. I’ve seen so many people find the right fit, and connect with work they’re passionate about, after similar periods of exploration and reconnection with themselves.

Q: It seems like a lot of people just know what they love and are passionate about whatever that is; however, some of my friends and I don’t know what makes us really happy yet. What’s wrong with us?

A: Some people tune into an interest when they’re quite young they are just fascinated by something. They gravitate towards whatever that is and might receive encouragement and support from their family and friends to pursue that interest. Either way, they are compelled to keep following their interest. Often an interest that starts early and keeps going is one that resonates on a very deep level; it might originate from a profound experience that keeps the person in traction. For instance, a child may become fixated on becoming a doctor after seeing a loved one become sick. Or an adolescent may fall in love with being on stage after having been overlooked by family and peers. I think the majority of people grow up enjoying many types of activities and people. But as they get older they are forced to narrow their interests at school and then for work. Dissatisfaction arises when they start to feel wrong because they have many interests and don’t know how to choose and focus. It’s important to remember that “feeling wrong” is the biggest detriment to finding the right fit. It’s when we start to trust the interest and develop new ways to approach it that we can find the right occupational fit. Our curiosity is alighted and we want to uncover more of what we’re doing, learning, achieving. The energy we get from what we’re doing keeps us wanting more of it…and the more is where the bliss really lives.

Daisy Swan, MA, CPCC, a Career Coach in Los Angeles, has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, as well as a guest expert on NBC’s daytime coaching program Starting Over. She works with clients of all ages as they make career and life transitions. To learn more about Swan and how she works with clients go to www.daisyswan.com.

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