April 20, 2016

As Effortlessly as Breathing

I believe that a career counselor’s job is to give people permission to do what they want to do. When I ask, “What do you really want to do?” or “What do you do when no one is telling you what to do?” - most people can describe things that they enjoy. That is where we start.

When I help people decide what they want to do in life, I often ask what they were doing the last time they looked at a clock and could not believe how much time had passed. When you do something you love - time flies. You don’t really feel like you are working. You do it as effortlessly as breathing.

The best jobs are ones where people are being paid to do something that is easy and fun to do - for them. Conversely, the worst jobs are when you find yourself doing something you absolutely hate. Time crawls when you hate what you are doing. The hands of the clock barely move. No matter how good you might be at something - if you hate doing it, it will require significantly more effort than doing something you enjoy.

When someone does something effortlessly, they sometimes fail to see the value in it - it's too easy. Work has to be hard. Really?

When you see someone who loves their work - it is like poetry - a dance in perfect form. They do their work effortlessly and seamlessly.

My father was a caterer - and you could tell he loved his work. He danced his way through four decades of events, making everything perfect for the occasions that chronicle life: baptisms, confirmations, bar mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, banquets, retirements, anniversaries, and funerals. If a request was made, the answer was, “we can do that!” If there was a problem, “we can fix that!” He was at his best at weddings - he always danced with the bride and her mother and made sure that everyone was happy with everything. He love food and he loved dancing. That was his work.

I once had a new grad in my office. He walked in and said “I finished my degree in accounting - now tell me how to get a job!” I said gently, “it doesn’t sound like that is what you want to do.” He said, “it’s not!” but my father told me to study accounting so I would get a job when I graduated.” I asked what he wanted to do... and he reached for a large portfolio and pulled out the most amazing photographs. After studying the photographs and the young man’s face I said - “let’s find a career path that lets you do photography and use your accounting knowledge to make yourself financially successful.”

When people are struggling to find their future, I often tell them to look for patterns in their past. Don’t fight it … it is your DNA. There are threads in your life that have already started to weave themselves into a pattern by the time you are ten. It grows from there. Like an intricate puzzle. When you have all the threads laid out a picture emerges.

No matter how many jobs there are in accounting… no one is going to hire you if you hate it.

Inhale, exhale, repeat. Do what comes as effortlessly as breathing.