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How To Choose a Career That Will Make You Happy

Sometimes when I’m doing a reading and we get to career the conversation will go something like this:

Erin:  The guides are telling me that you’re in a tech field, like software engineering, but you aren’t at all happy anymore.  The work is totally draining you.  Is that right?

Sitter:  Yes, I’ve been a programmer for 12 years but my heart’s just not in it anymore.  If I have to do this another 12 years I’ll go crazy.

Erin:  Okay, they’re showing me that you became a programmer because it was what you were good at and you knew you could make a good living with it, but that what you really wanted to do was become a therapist and help people who were going through emotional traumas in their lives.  Is that right also?

Sitter:  Wow, yes, that’s exactly true.  When I got out of high school I was planning to become a psychologist but I talked myself out of it because I figured I would get too emotionally tangled in people’s problems and couldn’t cope.  So I went into programming instead.

Erin:  You let your head decide your course instead of your heart.  And now you’re unhappy, but you have a stable, secure job.

Sitter:  Yes, I have a wife and children to support.  I can’t just stop what I’m doing.  Can I?

I’ve run into hundreds of people who have been knocked off course by their own logic or fear. 

“I always wanted to be a writer, but figured I wouldn’t be successful.” 
“I wanted to be a personal coach, but who am I to help people with their problems when I can’t even help myself?”
“I want to open a bakery, but I don’t know anything about business.”
“I love working with kids, but figured there’s no way I could earn enough money to support my family, so I became an accountant instead.”

Listen to your heart first, logic second, and fear never.

Discover and identify your passion.  If you had all the money and time in the world, what would you still do?  For me, it was studying and learning about spirituality and the paranormal.  That passion and interest has been with me since childhood.  It’s in my blood.  What’s in your blood?  What excites you?  Figure that out first.  Lock it down.   Set it in stone.

Only after you’ve identified your passion should you then figure how you want to earn a living around it.  Let’s say you love animals.  You could be a:

  • veterinarian
  • animal intuitive
  • animal trainer
  • zoologist
  • marine biologist
  • tour guide at a wild animal park
  • animal shelter worker
  • dog groomer
  • animal rights activist
  • vegan business owner
  • author whose books are about animals
  • animal charity worker

Be creative.  There are many ways for you to express your love and knowledge of animals.  List all the jobs or careers you can think of that allows you to express your passion for animals.

Next come up with your secondary list of needs.  This is where you get to use your logic. 

  • It can’t require a long time in school 
  • It has to give me flexibility to work when I want to
  • It has to have the potential to earn at least six figures a year
  • It has to be physically safe
  • It has to contribute positively to society
  • Etc.

Go back to your first list and see which career ideas match your secondary list most closely.  Eliminate the ones that are not a match.  For example if you don’t want to go back to school, that eliminates becoming a veterinarian.   Keep running your career ideas past your secondary needs until you have a list that satisfies your passion and your needs.

Then rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 and see which one comes out on top.  For example:

Author who writes books about animals
     No schooling or training – 5
     Flexibility to work when I want to – 10
     Potential to earn big money – 9
     Safe – 10
     Contribute positively to society – 7
            Total Score = 41

Animal Intuitive
     No schooling or training – 5
     Flexibility to work when I want to – 6
     Potential to earn big money – 4
     Safe – 8
     Contribute positively to society – 9
            Total Score = 32

And so on.  Tabulate the points and see what comes out on top.  If you need to, you can prioritize your secondary needs and weight them differently.  For example, maybe the most important need is that it has the potential to earn a six figure income, and a career idea must rate a 7 or above in that area or it’s a no go.  Play around with it.  Come up with something that satisfies both your logic and intuition.

Don’t let fear get into the game though.  He’s not welcome. 
“But what if no one hires me?” 
“Who’s going to pay me to do that?”
“I don’t know how.”
“What if I fail?”
“No one’s ever done it that way before.”

Fear and the ego are there to protect you.  You can acknowledge your fear, but don’t let it stop you from doing something you love.   Find a way around it.  It’s like a tree that suddenly topples into your path.  Don’t just sit there in front of it saying, “Oh shoot, where did that tree come from?  Now how am I going to continue down this path?  There’s a frakkin’ tree in my way.”  Climb over it, go around it, chop it down.  But don’t let it stop you.

You deserve to be happy.  If you’re spending 8 hours a day working for a living, make sure you’re doing something you enjoy.  If you used to enjoy your job but you don’t anymore, it’s time for a change.  You don’t have to quit tomorrow (unless that’s the only way to get you moving in the right direction).  Make a plan, start working on it, and quit your old job or career when you’re ready.

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