When it comes to career change, we often focus on the blind spots.
This is especially true if we have been recognized and rewarded for a particular skill, even though the skill might leave us cold
or indifferent when using it to earn our living.
In other words, we confuse the means with the ends, or in JobJoy terms, we confuse a ‘can do’ skill with a motivation. Let me
explain by illustrating a specific case.
Writing is a skill that is highly valued in our education system. In school, we all learn how to present ideas, information, narrative or descriptive images using the written word. Some learn better than others.
These good learners develop strong ‘can do’ skills as a writer and go on to
careers in education (e.g. professor) or the public service (e.g. policy
advisor) or the private sector (e.g. resume writer) that involve a lot of
writing as a core job duty.
Year after year they write reports, papers, letters, and other products. They
start to think of themselves as a writer because others relate to them that
way, and pay them to write in a job.
Sometimes, this identity that we create for ourselves as a writer actually
makes sense. For example, I have had many clients who write business or
academic papers very well. But what really turns them on is creative writing,
involving poetry, plays, or short stories.
Here’s how one client described the benefits of writing a play: “I fully
escaped into my writing. Writing made me feel emotions more vividly and
discover feelings long dormant. With play writing, I came alive. I felt like I
was some kind of vehicle through which material completely outside my awareness
traveled onto the page. I discovered that the more I let the characters loose
on the page, the more they led my writing. This kind of writing was a full-body
experience. I loved feeling so alive and physically sparked. I loved the energy
I got from the activity.”
However, after a cathartic release of emotion, she never went on to write more
plays, or other creative writing. It wasn’t the craft of writing—the innate
desire to effectively impress what you have to say onto the minds of
readers—that motivated her; instead, it was breaking through emotional
barriers, breaking through the existing limits of experience at that point in
Writing was the vehicle not the destination. She went on to an academic career
and had to confront the reality of publish or perish. She was not motivated to
write academic papers for a living, even though she had been doing it for years
in order to obtain a Master’s and PhD.
As she got older, doing what didn’t come naturally or easily became more
difficult. She needed to find a different career path. But how could she find
her dream job, when the only option she could think of involved writing?
Doing so meant she had to stop thinking of herself as a writer. She needed to
create a new identity for herself, one that harmonized with her natural talents
Getting clarity about what we do naturally and effortlessly is the first step
to a successful career change. Then it becomes possible to create a different
picture of yourself at work. Now you can see possibilities that are stimulating and financially viable!
A career assessment should give you an accurate and reliable picture of what that dream job looks like.
The next step is to find people in that new picture of work, and communicate to them with confidence your value proposition.
The key is to have others pay you for what comes naturally and effortlessly. That is job joy!