We are all told that we can find the perfect job but the reality is that with so many options many of us are confused and still in search of the holy grail of jobs. We all want a job that get's us excited, pays a decent salary, helps others and is fulfilling - but does it exist?
I love that people can still surprise me. On my usual walk to work on a rainy Tuesday I stopped off to grab a coffee from John, the happiest coffee man in London. I asked for my usual skinny cappuccino and was talking about the fortunate weather we've been having recently when he said 'you have a flame burning inside of you, you're such a happy person but be careful not to let that flame go out. Don't let them blow the flame out'... I was so surprised and touched that I could feel my eyes filling with tears, but more than that, the coffee man had bought to the surface something I already knew. I am not happy with the route my career has taken and you know what; in that moment, right there, I thought something's got to give.
I have had a new job nearly every year or so since my first job, which was 10 years ago and I have not been satisfied with any of them. Don't get me wrong I actually enjoy working (most of the time) but I have not yet found the job that makes me jump out of bed ready in frenzied anticipation for the day ahead. So, with a smile and a tear I walked into work determined to do something about it - but what?
I stared at my laptop and then started to read through some of my tweets. I sometimes find it helpful to do this to figure out what I have re-tweeted over the last month and enjoyed reading. I have been following Alain de Botton on twitter for ages. I love his approach to philosophy (mostly because he is the only person I understand talking about philosophy). And then, I saw a tweet about his School of life. Yes, I thought that's what I will do. There must be an answer in a book or even better, a classroom. I am a geek so anything I can read or go to a class about usually gets me excited. I signed up for, 'how to find a job you love,' a one night evening course where I would find out what I want to do as a job...HURRAH!
As usual I was running late and with 3 bags in toe I crashed down the stairs to a full room and grabbed a chair in the corner, took my note pad out and stared at the teacher - as did about 25 others. He was a little bumbly but set everyone at ease straight away before he asked us to write down what it was that bought us to the class. The moment I put pen to paper I could already feel myself becoming a little overwhelmed, again (oh please don't let me cry right now). The words I wrote, 'when I think about my career it makes me really sad.' We were then asked to read it out which really scared me. It's quite hard when you're a really upbeat person admitting that perhaps the one thing that you define yourself by may just be the one thing that's making you sad. As if he had read my mind the teacher said 'I was never sad, but someone told me once to let out my emotions and if I felt sad to tell someone. I did just that and I started to get hugs from people and that affection made me feel better. By feeling sad and telling others we can actually feel even better about ourselves'.
Next, we were asked to draw our career path and really think about what had influenced us to make the decisions we had made about our career; was it money, family, promotion, history, university. For me: another revelation. Since the age of 22 I have just said yes to job offers instead of really thinking about whether to move or not. I had lost control and reverted to being a 'yes' person with no real direction. Before 22 I was very focused about what I wanted to do.
I don't want to spoil the experience for others but what I will say is that right at the end, after going through a number of stages, you are asked to write a personal job description. Not based on your skills, experience or academic record but about you, your personality traits, behaviours and values. You then read this to a stranger to see what job they think would suit you. For me, it was a real eye opener. Although blazingly obvious I had never thought about it before. I needed to find a job that suited my personality and style as opposed to trying to fit my personality to where I was. My stranger said I needed a job where I was with people constantly, that was light and bright, where I could connect people, create great events and get people excited about something. Spot on. I do not have the perfect job answer yet or know exactly what I want to do but before we left the class we were asked to commit to one small experiment.
You have just read mine...
I have been an admirer and compulsive reader of online lifestyle magazines and blogs for years and my experiment was to write an article about my experience and send out to them all to see what they thought about it and to hopefully help others struggling with the question 'how do I find a job I love?' I would really recommend the class, you may or may not come away with the answer but you'll be a little closer and like me you might try something you love doing or do something for the first time and who knows; it could lead to a door opening to your dream job.
The School of Life, How to Find a Job You Love, www.theschooloflife.com
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