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Contrary to popular belief_

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                     Inject your career with more passion through these six steps by Curt Rosengren




                                                                                                tions or a lack of qualifications. But know
                                                                                                that for each roadblock, there is a way
                                                                                                around it – yes, even including the “how
                                                                                                do I afford this?” question (hint: the
                                                                                                answers for affording it start in Step 4 and
                                                                                                really get rolling in Step 5).

                                                                                                Step 1: Create your own compass
                                                                                                As we plot our career course, it’s easy to get
                                                                                                caught up in deciding our direction based
                                                                                                on an external compass: what a career
                                                                                                should look like, our parents’ expecta-
                                                                                                tions, monetary definitions of success, etc.
                                                                                                    Not one of these external factors has
                                                                                                anything to do with what lights us up at a
                                                                                                core level. Yet I see people repeatedly
                                                                                                using them to point the way to careers
                                                                                                then marked by boredom, frustration and
                                                                                                a lack of inspiration.
                                                                                                    The most important step is to jettison
                                                                                                that external compass and create a
                                                                                                compass of your own (I call it the Passion
                                                                                                Core). Identify the underlying characteris-
                                                                                                tics of the things that light your fire. Not
                                                                                                just what you love doing, but why. That’s
                                                                                                where the energy comes from.
                                                                                                    Say, for example, your excitement
                                                                                                comes from taking creative and unexpect-
                                                                                                ed approaches to things, but you became



   C
                ontrary to popular belief,           1. Identify who you are. What lights       an accountant because the money was good.
                career passion isn’t available       your fire at a core level?                 My bet is you’re often uninspired. Now
                only to the privileged few who       2. Make choices based on that.             imagine if you put “creative and unexpected”
                know the secret handshake. In                                                   into a career: An interior decorator with a
   my work as a passion-focused career coach      Need a little more? Read on. This article     flair for the unusual, for example.
   and workshop leader, I have worked with        is based on “The Occupational Adventure       Wouldn’t that change the picture?
   hundreds of clients, and I tell each one of    Guide,” the model I developed to provide          As you identify those underlying char-
                                                                                                                                                 Illustration: Getty Images




   them the secret to a juicy, fun, fulfilling    a step-by-step guide to creating a vibrant,   acteristics, write them down. You’re
   career: It’s all about you.                    fulfilling career. It isn’t about “career     creating an internal compass you can use
      Passion isn’t some exotic, rare experi-     passion in six easy steps.” The journey       to brainstorm new career possibilities and
   ence. Simply put, it’s the energy you get      will take work, and everyone runs into        then to evaluate options and choices.
   by bringing more of you into what you          barriers along the way. Some are internal:        Often, people don’t even realize their
   do. So, for more passion in your career, all   Fear of failing or the unknown. Others        decisions are externally based. Before
   you need is two basic steps:                   are external: Family or financial obliga-     beginning her passion explorations, 41-


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year-old Stacy Sipinen of Seattle had a        Step 3: Where’s the fit?                          the ROI on the time and energy spent?
notion of what she “should” do and a per-      If it’s time to move on, use your Passion              When you’ve done the due diligence and
ceived need to be “practical” about work.      Core as a tool to brainstorm new career           have a deep understanding of each option,
The result: She felt chained to a software     possibilities. Ask what careers have one or       it’s time to pick a new career direction.
sales job that didn’t fit. But when she        more of these elements. Follow the
began to realize that those voices weren’t     standard brainstorming rules – there are          Step 5: Map it
hers, she was able to give herself permis-     no bad ideas.                                     Once you have identified that new direc-
sion to seek something better.                     The aim is to get beyond the blinders that    tion, set goals and make a plan. What
   She ultimately left the software            the inertia of your past path, preconceived       steps do you need to take to get there?
industry and began a career as a mortgage      career beliefs and simple lack of awareness       That will help determine how fast you can
banker, a path that offers her both greater    can create. The right career just might lie       realistically move. Some people can make a
control and an opportunity to apply her        outside your current field of vision.             single dramatic change. Most people can’t.
expertise in a consultative role – both key        The key is to generate a full spectrum            It’s critical to identify the internal and
elements in her Passion Core.                  of ideas. Don’t evaluate yet – that’s the         external obstacles. Being aware of them
                                               next step. Just fill the funnel. For              will help you find ways around them. In
Step 2: Sculpt and scan                        example, in my own Passion Core, explo-           my own career, perfectionism has consis-
Where does your current job match the          ration and discovery are a huge element.          tently been a huge boulder on the path.
elements in your Passion Core? Let’s say       What kinds of jobs have those characteris-        Confronting it, I started to see that
you love the part of your job that entails     tics? Journalist, photographer, research          imperfection – and the resulting learning –
teaching. Look around. Could you build         scientist, genealogist, private investigator,     was a necessary component of my growth
more of that into your job; it could be as     marketing researcher, anthropologist...           and progress. It was a mental shift that
simple as telling your boss you want to do         Some of those sound appealing, some           enabled me to take more risks and not
more of it. Conversely, where does your        don’t. Narrowing the list is part of the          waste energy beating myself up.
work go against the Core? How could you        next step.                                            Money is probably the most common
minimize that? If you like clear definition                                                      external roadblock. I’ve seen people cir-
and your work feels too random, what           Step 4: Whittle them down                         cumvent that by saving money specifical-
opportunities are there to create more         Once you’ve filled the funnel with                ly to take the edge off the financial chal-
structure in your day-to-day routine?          options, use your Passion Core to evaluate        lenges of a career change or pushing the
    Once you’ve taken the immediate            them. Discard what doesn’t match.                 ultimate goal temporarily onto a back-
steps, keep alert for opportunities. And       Identify the likely possibilities and dig         burner but always keeping it in sight. You
yes, they certainly can be within your         deeper. Research them. Talk to people             can also look for short-term revenue
current organization.                          who do that work. Shadow somebody.                streams to help bridge the gap.
    It worked for Derek Baines. An enter-          As a technology company vice president,           Ultimately, there are many ways to get
prise corporate account manager at             Steve Smith decided he wanted to make             around the obstacles you identify. If you
Microsoft, Baines cites decisions based on     more of a difference. Teaching sparked his        feel stuck, challenge yourself to brain-
his Passion Core for a recent promotion.       interest, but he needed to know more. So,         storm solutions.
Though it fell outside his job description,    he took a course on teaching and began
Baines saw an opportunity: With a              helping in his children’s schools. That           Step 6: Hit the road
number of software licenses coming up for      approach gave him the reality perspective         If you don't move forward, none of this
renewal for the first time – each averaging    he needed to make his decision – he now           matters. To begin, just take a step. Right
several hundred thousand dollars – he          teaches high school math.                         n o w. A s y o u h e a d d o w n t h a t p a t h ,
believed he could improve both the process         The money factor had to be evaluated          remember that passion is a process. Each
and the effectiveness. When Baines             too. While savings and investments eased          person’s journey will unfold differently, at
outlined his ideas, his boss gave him the      the transition, Smith and his wife had to         varying rates of speed.
freedom to create a new system and             look more carefully at their finances. “We            If you can’t change immediately, build
communicate with customers. The result:        started asking ourselves, what do we really       the foundation for change over time with
an almost unheard-of 10 renewals out of 10.    need?” In their case, it wasn’t the material      a dual track. Take consistent baby steps,
    The experience played to multiple          things. It was doing what made them happy.        and when the time comes to change, it
elements in Baines’ Passion Core, including:       We can’t minimize the financial               will be closer to stepping off a curb than
                                               question but I often encourage clients to         jumping off a cliff.
– Dreaming and asking, “What if we …”          look at “personal return on investment.”              In the end, finding a career you can
– Planning, preparation and implementation     In other words, if they got paid by the           love is simple. Look inside, make choices
– Helping/teaching (with customers)            feeling they get from the job, rather than        that are consistent with what you find
– Making the impossible happen.                money, what would they do to maximize             there and you’ll inevitably find passion. w


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