I’m not asking for your job title. I’m asking how do you act when you tell someone your job title? Do you respond with eagerness and pride, or with reluctance and shame?
The way you act in response to this common inquiry makes it easy to tell if your career is right for you.
I recently remembered a bit of advice I received from someone years ago, during one of my routine stops as a computer professional. My boss, intent on making friends with his new neighbor, sent me to this gentleman’s house to resolve a personal computer problem.
Though don’t remember his name or what I did for him, I vividly remember how I left this man’s home that day having learned an important life lesson. I say this because during my visit, we talked about my life. After exhausting the subjects of school, work, and religion, he asked me if I had a girlfriend.
Apparently I shot him a huge smile before saying “Yes.” The next thing he said was unforgettable: “I think you must be in love, ’cause that’s the first time you smiled since you walked through my door.”
It’s true. My girlfriend made me so happy that even the slightest thought about her caused me to start grinning uncontrollably. I was clearly in love with her.
Why is this relevant? Because my job never made me smile. I was in that line of work for the wrong reasons and it wasn’t until recently that I understood the significance of what he told me: I wasn’t in love with my job.
It was a job I was working so I’d have something impressive to say when someone asked me what I did for a living. It was a job I was working to make my parents proud. It was a job I was working to pay the bills.
That was over three years ago. Since then, I’ve left the computer industry to pursue my dream career as a writer. Though there are times when it’s hard to tell if my new career is “right” for me, there are other times when the answer is crystal clear:
A few minutes into my trim at the local barber shop, the barber asked “So what do you do for a living?” Consequently, the most overwhelming deja vu of my life came over me as I began to grin uncontrollably.
“I’m a writer,” I explained through my expression.
“Oh really? Do you like it?”
With an abundance of certainty, I said — “I love it.”
And at that moment, I understood my career is right for me because I am in love with my career. Shouldn’t everyone be?
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