A while ago I had a conversation with a woman I met at the park. While our kids were happily running around the monkey bars, she told me about her tough situation. She explained to me that she had injured herself so badly at work, that she had to go on sick leave and that she would probably not be able to do this kind of work anymore. Although it sounded to me as if this job wasn’t really her dream job, she was still worried about what to do next and what career path she should follow now. Totally understandable!
Instead of feeling sad for her though, I was actually excited. Where she saw problems, I saw new opportunities. I saw that this could be a big turning point in her life. Maybe it was time to do something that was really meaningful to her. And funnily enough, that’s how life works. It has a way of putting us in a situation where we think we're stuck but it’s actually for the best and it gives us the opportunity to breath and consider a new way of living.
I didn’t dare to show my excitement, because she might have thought that I don’t take her situation seriously enough. But I at least wanted to ask her the right questions to infuse her with a new point of view. Unfortunately, all I was able to get out of my mouth was, “So what do you wanna do instead then?”
She told me about different job ideas that sounded all equally boring. Not that they were bad ideas, but I didn’t see the sparkle in her eyes when she envisioned them. She wanted to pursue a teaching career and her arguments were:
• It’s a safe job
• You cannot be fired
• You get amazing benefits and
• Lots of time off
These answers didn’t sound satisfying to me. I was waiting for her to light up about something but instead, everything she said sounded rational and disconnected from her.
I don’t know why I didn’t ask her:
What are you excited about?
Later when I was home, I thought, if I had just asked the right questions, maybe I could have made a bigger impact on her and she might have considered choosing a profession that is more in alignment with who she is. Well, I missed my chance. But if you are in a similar situation, here are the 6 questions that I would ask you if you were completely lost on your career path.
1. What kind of a nerd lives inside of you?
People are surprised when they find out that nobody else is interested in what they’re into like brewing beer, stock markets, 90’s rock music, Japanese history, etc. You might think that everybody is into the things that you like, because they’re so interesting to you, right? But others would be completely bored if they had to research the things that matter to you.
You are a nerd and everybody else is too. And that’s a good thing.
Most of us have several nerds inside of us. Try to become aware of them. I always say, ‘your desires are there for a reason’.
2. What could you talk about forever? (If you weren’t afraid of losing your friends, you would talk about this stuff for hours)
My dad used to talk about cars all day. He would go to the store and get a bunch of brochures for the newest cars and their different models. Then he would come into my room and, without warning, start talking about features, prices, colours, new innovations, etc. It was torture! He was obviously so excited that it was hard to say, “Dad, I’m not really interested in cars, can we talk about books instead?” My dad would have probably made a pretty good sales person in the car industry or he could have been a professional test driver. Or something like that.
3. What are you good at? And more importantly, what are you enthusiastic about getting better at?
If people tell me I’m really good at so and so and that I should do more of that kind of thing, I always ask myself if I would be excited to learn more about this field. If I can’t imagine myself learning more about it, there is no point in focusing on it, even if I’m good at it. It’s a waste of time. On the other hand, I can sit at home and read a million books about consciousness, death, being present, limiting beliefs and all that. It’s as if I’m studying without having to sign up for a class. I’m voluntarily soaking up everything about it.
4. What are you curious about?
If you’re not passionate about anything, what are you slightly curious about? Curiosity is the first spark of passion. Do more of the stuff that you’re curious about without worrying if it will lead you to something. These days everybody is so frigging afraid of ruining their resume. What’s with that? Don’t give a piece of paper such power over your life. Do me a favour and please ruin your resume!
Curiosity is your intuition talking to you and to follow it will make sense at some point. If you don’t believe me, watch Elizabeth Gilbert’s view on that here.
5. If you could retire tomorrow, what would you like to get into?
Think of your retirement… Would you like to travel more? Write more? Start a book club? Whatever you can imagine doing then, is something you’re already interested in right now. Otherwise it wouldn’t even come to your mind. So why wait until you’re retired? Life is happening right now.
If you’ve passed the 60 mark and you are actually going to retire very soon, why not follow your desires? You might be surprised. You may end up not wanting to quit work at 65, because you found something that adds joy to your life and doesn’t feel like work.
6. In which field could you see yourself making money?
Money is a tricky subject. I believe that if you pour your whole being into doing something you love, you’ll eventually make money from it. It can take years, but if you really want to do it, you’ll have the patience to stick through the tough times. And maybe they’re not as tough as you think. But yeah, it is important to choose a career where you can imagine yourself eventually making money.
I’m not a Marketing pro, but I know that businesses have to consider if there is a need for their product or service out there in the market. Personally I would never open a business because the market needed something. If I love what I do plus the world needs what I offer, that’s a win-win situation. To just do something because there is a need for it is, in my eyes, a road to suffering. We all know that money can’t buy back the love.
What if your desires and interests are a like map from your soul to help you decide which career would be the best for you?
Your soul wants you to have the best possible life ever. If your job feels unnatural to you, bores you or doesn’t bring out your best skills, that’s your higher self talking to you and saying “Get the hell out of there”.
If you’re finding yourself in this in-between zone where you might not want to go back to your previous job, but at the same time you have no idea what to do, my suggestion to you is this: Give yourself a little more time! If money is short, do the least amount of work to pay your bills, maybe work only 3 days a week and live a simpler life for a while. This will give you some space to get to know yourself better. Pay more attention to your feelings, to what really turns you on and invest more time in this particular field.
People are scared to be broke, to lose their lifestyle and to lose their high-end apartment, but what is really important in life? It’s not the money and it’s not the apartment. At the end of the day, it’s important how you feel. It’s important that you can look at yourself in the mirror and say: I’m going my own way.
I hope I was able to give you a little push in the right direction. Trust me, all the answers you’re looking for are already in you. You just have to pay attention.
With much love,
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