There are clues to what you are “supposed” to be doing

Posted in Careers, Mentor Minute

There are clues to what you are “supposed” to be doing

Globe and Mail Careers Section, C2, Wednesday March 4 2009

Feb 25, 2009

Globe and Mail, Wednesday March 4, 2009 There are clues to what you are “supposed” to be doing.

The Scenario:

I feel stuck. I know that the work I am doing is not what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, but I have no idea what it is I’m “supposed” to be doing. Where do I start to figure this out?

The Advice:

We are all so quick to say that we really don’t have any idea what we are supposed to do with our lives. But the truth is, we all know the answer if we just take a moment to listen. Listen to what? Listen to the things that spark your energy, that engage your attention and that come naturally. Notice what books you love to read, topics you love to discuss, and areas that interest you more than others. This is where you will find the answer to that illusive question.

Take me for instance. I used to work in advertising prior to becoming a coach. Do you know how many books on advertising I read during those 11 years? Zero! Why? Because I was too busy reading every book I could get my hands on in the areas of leadership and personal growth and development. While everyone around me was reading “Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy, I was busy reading Anthony Robbins “Unlimited Power” and Steven Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I felt lost trying to figure out what I was “supposed” to be doing while the answer was sitting on my bookshelf.

Start with your passions. Write a list of everything, I mean everything, that you are passionate about. From leadership to dogs, sales to skiing, cooking to art, design to technology; everything that holds your passion is a place to look.

If you are quick to say “but I’m not a very passionate person”, then look to the areas that hold your interest and keep you truly engaged. Stop and think about what you are doing when you are completely engaged in the moment, totally present, unaware of anything else that is going on.

Ok, but its not enough just to be passionate about something. You also have to be good at it. Just think of all the early contestants on Canadian Idol – they may be passionate about singing, but lets face it, a lot of them do not have the talent to succeed as a singer. So now generate a list of all your strengths, your natural abilities, those things that you are simply good at.

Once you look at what you’re passionate about, and what you’re good at, you can start to explore career opportunities that meet at that intersection. Just because a contestant on Canadian Idol can’t sing, doesn’t mean they can’t find work in the music industry. Once they know what they are good at, they can direct their career search toward production, or concert promotion, or be a music agent, or work for a record company…

Finally, take action. Whatever you think is an opportunity to merge your interests with your strengths, take action in that direction and see what happens. Stop thinking about it, and just take a step. It’s the action that will get you out of your current rut and into something you are “supposed” to be doing.

Katie Bennett is a coach and speaker in Vancouver and head of Double Black Diamond Coaching. www.doubleblackdiamondcoaching.com