Moving Forward with Hope
More to it than scratching an itch…
Career coaches expend their careers and hearts promoting the message that enjoyable work makes life worthwhile. That’s why my first reaction to English philosopher Allen Watts podcast “What If Money Didn’t Matter?” was positive and affirming. “All right!!,” I fist pumped. “Let’s get this message out!”
It’s certainly important to get career planners, job changers and those looking for new meaning in work to ask his questions… “What do you really want to do?” What makes you itch?” “What would you do if money didn’t matter?”
And sure, it’s compelling the way the video uses upbeat, encouraging music and a rhythm that pulsates hope. Viewers respond, “Yes, I need to do that.” We all do.
Mr. Watts goes further… “If you like something, you can master it and get a good fee. Everyone is interested in something.”
But as I viewed the video a second and third time, another perspective crept in. Wait a minute. It’s this kind of ambiguity and false optimism that has always plagued the career counseling world i.e. rah rah cheering applicable to those select few with unique focus and talents. These folks rarely need coaching-and employers find them.
But for the rest of us, we need something more. Firstly, we need new insights and language to help us better understand our talents. We need help in discovering how these talents connect to real jobs and their real requirements. Good old fashioned research is required—on the web and in person. And it’s silly to not factor in our financial needs as well as limitations on both our time and talents.
You bet we need to begin with our dreams, but like Thoreau says, foundations need to be built under these castles in the air.* What skills and experiences are critical to achieving our dreams—and how do we get them? Life is about tradeoffs and every job has its good days and bad, joys and sadness—and the choices we make need to incorporate this understanding. We can’t just say, “I’m going to write, manage, teach, build, repair, or design, etc. because we love it.”
But we can assess our competencies and enhance them until they’re market worthy; apply them to ideas and issues we truly believe in; integrate them with other skills and technologies; and engage professionals who have gone before us with key questions about their journeys. Then we’re on our way toward attaining rewarding work. And scratching that itch. It takes time and effort—but what’s new about that?
Write down what you love to do (with examples) and what you’re really good at (with evidence)…along with your limitations. Commit to some web research on where your interests and skills are most valued in the workplace. Start with the ONET site.
*“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
– Henry David Thoreau