When You Don’t Know What You Want

You don’t always get to do what you love, find your passion, or or even identify your dream place on the wheel of jobs and careers.  For a great many people (of all ages and stages), ideal work is elusive, or that job requires so much training and education that it’s out of reach, now and maybe for always.

So what do you do instead?

Here are some alternatives.

  1.  Find the thing that can fund the thing you like to do but can’t get paid to do.

If you make films, write books, create art, or travel voraciously every chance you get, decide what can float that boat, either by supplying funding, or by creating swaths of time, or even by getting you close to the thing in some other way.  Business travelers usually get to keep miles earned, teachers often get summers off, publishers place you near authors and ideas, and editors.  Look for the opportunity to create a platform or a bridge.

2.    Decide where you want to work, geographically, and do what is there to do.

Living where you want to live is a worthy objective, and expanding the definition of “where” to include proximity to things or people you love, as opposed to specific cities makes it a broader, richer set of considerations.  For example, if you want to be near the water, there is more than Florida to choose from.   Similarly, you can pick between cities and suburbs, plains and mountains, cold or warm climates before getting into the nitty gritty of exactly where you might launch a venture.

3.    Select an industry.

What makes your world better and how might you fit into it?  Can you see yourself somehow supporting health care, agriculture, fashion, or automobiles?  A great many people are just plain good at operations, they make things happen, whatever the things are.  For those folks, operational jobs, service jobs, administrative jobs, managerial jobs, are going to be fulfilling, as long as the work makes sense and they can see the need–and do what they do best, make things happen.  Think about pet food manufacturing, tax preparation, attractions management, or theater operation.

4.  Find kindred spirits or just really nice people who appreciate you.

Go where you think you will fit in–who thinks like you do?  Where do your friends go or where are they planning to go?  Is there a training program, a big department in need, a church enterprise, a social enterprise, or a school, or a program?  Collaboration with like-minded people can be rewarding and creates a social structure you can attach to for nutrition, connection, and sustaining interest.

5.  Consider becoming a specialist in a very specialized field.

Focus down into the details and learn everything you can about one thing.  Whatever the thing is, and it could be anything–but you do need education, so that’s important.  Without knowing you, I can’t know what the thing is, but if you start to write about it, people will as you to speak about it, and then you will meet other people and learn even more.  Being an expert does require staying up to date in your chose field–but it doesn’t require much more.  Consultants get found by the folks who need them and eventually this leads to a living.

Very few people are perpetually happy with every career contour, move, feature, or assignment.  Even the self employed struggle with exhaustion, fear, and boredom.  A career is not particularly fragile, most of the time, but it does require some patience, with yourself, and with the choices you have.  If you want different or more choices, you have to move forward, you have to produce, and you have to connect and stick with an idea that makes sense for you.

 

 

 

 

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