I had serious angst about my "purpose" and wandered through these jobs hoping for a bolt of inspiration to hit me.
I also had a serious commitment phobia. Although, I've always juggled several jobs at one time since High School and I'm not at all work-shy, I always made sure that I took on short term contracts, maternity covers or jobs that I could easily bail on if I wanted to. I just moved onto the next one, thinking it would be better.
By the way, if you're nodding your head, then you're not alone. Most people I talk to are struggling to discover their perfect career. Failing that, they've already found it but are struggling to make it a full time living or afraid to make a go for it.
No job is good or bad, but it's how it makes you feel.
Some jobs I did just for money - waitress, telesales, commission only sales, office cleaner. I even participated in a medical experiment testing morphine based drugs. Many of these jobs were boring, badly paid and in the case of the experiment - dangerous for my health.
Is this you? You're just there for the cash, you're on an hourly wage with little room for promotion and you probably wouldn't take it even if offered - you're certainly not trying for it. You're counting down the minutes until lunch and living for the weekends. You might even be compromising your health or sanity, because you feel like you don't have a choice.
Some jobs I did because I thought they'd be good for my career - consultant, event manager or social media manager. Unfortunately, I quickly developed an allergy to the typical corporate environment and a very low tolerance to endless meetings. A few bad boss experiences gave me anxiety issues and undermined my confidence for the "high powered life".
Is this you? You work in a cubical, you're an Excel monkey and Dilbert is your hero. You play jargon bingo in meetings. You may earn a great wage but you feel like you're selling your soul. You see your boss more than your friends or family. You dream about saving your money and quitting spectacularly to do... something else.
Of course, it wasn't all doom and gloom. A lot of my jobs I did for fun and the great dinner party stories that resulted - children's performer, Honeymoon Tester, entrepreneur, Olympic Mascot and art class model. Either I didn't make enough money, or I didn't have the courage to make it a full-time career. I second guessed my talent and lacked focus. My entrepreneurial efforts were scattered and largely unsuccessful. I started businesses that went nowhere.
Is this you? You're in a creative or maybe non-traditional professional, but not possibly full time. You may have to take on other jobs to do what you love. You come up with new business ideas all the time and your friends and family roll their eyes when they hear about your new "Million dollar" venture. You don't feel like you're living up to your potential, but you know that you don't want a typical career.
Despite doing some jobs that I really did enjoy, I was desperate for direction and devoured books like 'What should I do with my life?' (yes, please Po Bronson, tell me!) and 'Do what you love and the money will follow' (when, when does it follow?)
I felt if I could just crack that code, I'd be happy. Instead, I went from job to job half-heartedly, not admitting to myself what I really wanted to do. (clue - I'm doing it now!)
What do you love to do?
Most people don't know (or are afraid to admit it), but that's ok. Don't feel bad if you're not sure. Don't worry if you don't think you could ever make a living out of your dream job. Don't worry if you're afraid.
It's all about baby steps. Here are some good starting points to finding your dream job or career and starting on your path to get there - no matter where you're starting from.
Grab a journal and a pen and let's begin:
1. Make a list of all the jobs you've had in your life
Make a list of anything you've been paid for, even if you were there for just one day. Start from when you were young up until present day. If you're anything like me, it might be difficult to remember them all!
Which ones did you love, which did you absolutely hate and which ones were just ok?
Note how you left each job - were you fired, did you quit or was it something else? Notice any pattern, such as quitting after six months or being fired for making mistakes - it's a classic sign of being in the wrong career!
Are there any common themes, or are they all random?
2. Make peace with the past
We've all had absolute shocker jobs. The ones that leave us emotionally scarred and we carry that into the rest of our life. You may have had stressful jobs that affected your personal relationships or your health.
Have you had a job that really shook your confidence in yourself? What can you learn from that? Are you letting an old mistake or poor career fit affect your belief in your abilities?
Do you beat yourself up for staying in a career that's long past it's sell-date?
Do you wish you had the courage to really go for it, and you feel like you missed your chance?
Forgive yourself for past mistakes and move on. Resolve to forget about the office politics that still plague your mind or injustices you still stew about. Make peace with the fact that you aren't a millionaire, a professional dancer in the Moulin Rouge or a movie star... yet.
Mentally forgive that horrible boss, even if they really were truly the boss from hell. Occasionally, I'll find myself thinking about a particular boss or an incident from a previous job and feel really angry about it. Like it happened just the other day. I have to mentally remind myself that it doesn't matter anymore. It's the past and I can let it go.
3. Find the clues already in your life
My favourite present ever as a child was when I got an electric typewriter. I loved starting clubs and organisations and I was a bit opinionated! So, not really that much of a stretch that I became a writer, speaker and coach.
What did you love to do as a child? Start from when you were little. Did you have a hobby that you loved? Ask your parents, I bet they have some ideas!
If you could do anything at all, what would you do? How would you spend your days if you won the lottery?
What do you already do for free? Could you make a career out of it? If you know that you don't have the talent, time or skill to make it your living, could you still incorporate it into your life somehow?
What do your friends come to you for advice on? Fashion, career, men? Ask your friends what they see you doing. You might be surprised.
If you're serious about changing careers or finding your purpose, you have to have two things - the intention and the action. The universe loves action and you may start to attract people, opportunities or ideas that can get you closer to a more fulfilling career.
Here are some actions you could take straight away:
- Research someone who has your ideal career and invite them for coffee. People love giving advice
- Ask if you can shadow someone in your dream profession or do some volunteer work to get some experience
- Find a seminar or workshop in the appropriate industry
- Look into further education. Who cares if it takes five years of study - that time will go by anyway!
- Call the top 5 companies on your wish list and ask if they are hiring
- Reignite some of your old hobbies
Write down 5 things you can do in the next 1-3 days. Share them in the comments below so you have some public accountability! (I can also help you with that)
Believe in yourself
Anything is possible and history proves it over and over again. Life is too short to play small and too short to be in a job that you hate. I understand that you may feel trapped by circumstances, money, fear, obligation or anything else. It's real, I get it.
If these people can do it, so can you....
Glenna Johnson Smith, age 90, just fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author.
Despite severe injuries from burns as a baby, Melanie Higgins learnt to write, play the piano and fulfilled her dream of having a baby.
92-Year-Old Chrystalla Petropoulou has just become a nun of a church she helped establish.
Nicola Thomas knew she was going blind, so she set a goal to win a beauty contest before she lost her sight.
and so many more examples in the world
Seek out inspiring stories of people you admire in your industry. I guarantee you'll find stories of overcoming adversity, unlikely successes and tales of persistence that will drive you on.
Jealously can be a useful thing too! If you find yourself feeling jealous of someone else's success, just mentally wish them well and affirm to yourself "good things are coming my way too".
Everyone deserves to do work that they love. You deserve to find something that fulfils you. You also deserve to get paid for what you do. (Some people have a huge block around this, but that's for another article!)
So, I mentioned 50 jobs. Do you want to see the full list? The rule was that I did it for at least one day and I got paid for it. The majority of jobs on this list I did for at least six months on average.
- Aerobics Instructor (my idol was Denise Austin)
- AIESEC Global Coordinator (If you don't know what AIESEC is… google it)
- Art Class Model
- Babysitter (Didn't everyone?)
- Barista (in a combined coffee shop/book shop - HEAVEN)
- Blogger (yes, you can get paid for this!)
- Car Washer
- Chat Line Operator
- Cleaner (Houses, offices, etc. It's a dirty job... Period)
- Coach (Life coach - yay - what I do now!)
- Consultant (environmental, change behaviour, leadership - all that funky stuff)
- Content Editor (Freelance newsletters, website stuff for various companies)
- Counterfeiter (I charged classmates $5 for a "letter from Kylie Minogue")
- Crowd Warm-Up (Are you ready for Bugs Bunny? I can't hear you….!)
- Dance Teacher
- Dancer (Not the dodgy kind… for children's shows!)
- Editor (of ebooks mainly)
- Event Manager (all sorts - conferences, anniversary galas, seminars, roadshows)
- Exam Invigilator (Oh so boring… "Is that a phone?!")
- Film and TV Extra (I can fly!)
- Honeymoon Tester
- Hospitality Suite Manager (At least I could watch rock concerts for free)
- Human Sign (Sandwich Board Wearer… enough said)
- Kitchen Hand
- Laundry Worker ("Don't put your hand in the mangle")
- Macarena Teacher (It was really popular at conferences!)
- Market Researcher ("Do you have a minute to answer a few short quest-…?")
- Medical Experiment Participant (Testing morphine based drugs…)
- Model (I was 14, but I was fierce with my scrunched hair!)
- Model dresser (backstage assistant in a fashion show)
- Olympic Mascot (Yes, actually a job. Google Millie the Echidna)
- Pamphlet Hander-outer-er
- Personal Assistant
- Real Estate Sales Trainer (Despite knowing nothing about real estate)
- Second Hand Whitegoods Seller
- Shoe Shop Assistant (People's feet don't really smell, it's just a fear everyone has)
- Slum Lord (My last year of uni, I paid no rent exploiting travellers in the spare rooms)
- Social Media Manager (being paid to play on Facebook and Twitter - YEAH!)
- Spruiker (You know those annoying people on microphones in shopping centres?)
- Student Recruiter
- Suit Character Actor (too short for Bugs Bunny… just right for Tweetie Bird and Elmer Fudd)
- Telesales (Kill me now)
- Temporary Data Entry
- Trainee Chef (I had my own knives and everything)
- Travel Writer (Hands down one of the best jobs EVER)
- Tutor (Business Studies to High School Students)
- Waitress (Pizza, soup restaurants…you name it)
- Writer (How cool when you do what you love!)
I'm sure I missed some out, but you get the general idea!
Spend some time working out what you really want to do and it's the greatest gift you can give yourself. Take some baby steps forward today and let me know how you go!