When You Think You Have Too Many Interests to Choose From…

I used to think I had too many interests to find a career that would fit. Do you worry about that too?

image of a swirl of question marks

One the one hand, ideas can be energizing. I love ideas.

But when it comes to choosing a career path, I remember it feeling like a swirl of question marks that kinda left me feeling stuck, hopeless, or sometimes just exhausted waiting for clarity to come.

However, now I see that the concept of “too many interests” is out of an old playbook that says I have to choose one narrow direction for life, and that’s that. But life and work are more complex and interesting than that. Right?

I do think some people might have more broad ranging interests than others, and they are perhaps lovers of Ideas Ideas Ideas, or what some call a “Renaissance Soul”. I’m raising my hand on that one. (By the way, being an idea-generating person is a unique talent, and it’s a marketable skill that could be a clue for your path.)

Over time, with seeing the inside stories as a career/business coach, I now think we all have multiple interests. Don’t you? Maybe your interests don’t all seem relevant to your career, at first, but you do have multiple interests, I bet.

I’ll explain a simple method for choosing a career when you have multiple interests. Continue reading

“My Career Is All Over the Place” – That’s OK.

Career Confusion Maze

Is it a messy maze or is it a beautiful image when seen from above? I see the beauty.

I hear this a lot: “My career is all over the place so how do I find my next step?”

The good news: Everyone has a messy career path. Life is messy, at best. You’re not alone.

The bad news: It’s still confusing in there and you’re still needing to find your way in a dark confusing maze.

More good news: You can get help to find your way through the maze. There are people with lanterns and maps to turn to. And people who can see the big picture from above the maze. Really.

My So-Called Messy Career Path

In my own experience, I thought I was “all over the place” too. I didn’t want anyone to see that wacky résumé. On some level, with each turn, it did make sense to me, because I was following what was in front of me. But I thought that picture of “meandering” would look funny to others.

In reality, people never seemed to care about all those so-called turns on my résumé, and it wasn’t a roadblock for new jobs. I couldn’t see the thread connecting the dots, but I see now that it was there. Maybe it was the exact path I needed to end up helping people with career clarity, since I’ve dabbled in many areas. It wasn’t simple and it was confusing at times for sure, but the path had a purpose, it turned out.

“What Can Help Me Find My Way?”

Just using exercises in a book or a quiz online is not enough for something like deep clarity and choosing your own specific steps on where you want to go in life. You wouldn’t be reading this if you could have figured it out on your own.

Most people can’t figure it out alone. It’s like a fish who doesn’t see the water she’s swimming in, but the water is obvious to us as outsiders. Funny how that works. A little help goes a long way, and seeing what’s right there can bring huge relief. Continue reading

The Joy and Challenge of Finding Your Purpose

I love this article (below) on the secret to a long and happy life… which, to paraphrase the article, is…. To do what you love, or more specifically what brings a sense of meaning and purpose. It seems like a simple equation: Do what makes you happy in order to be happy.

But somehow this gets all complicated for us, doesn’t it? Worrying what others will think, how to find what you love, how it all fits with making a living, and all that practical stuff.

The article has some good hints and inspiration. They talk about a Japanese philosophy called “ikigai” which loosely translates as sense of purpose, or doing what you love, or following the call of your heart. The article contains some fruitful yet simple questions to ask yourself to help you find your purpose in life. I’ll provide some tips below too.

A helpful excerpt from the article:

It’s not as easy as that sounds, of course. ‘Modern life estranges us more and more from our true nature, making it very easy for us to lead lives lacking in meaning,’ García and Miralles write. ‘Powerful forces and incentives (money, power, attention, success) distract us on a daily basis; don’t let them take over your life.’
Instead, they advise, follow your curiosity and intuition, which are the paths back to ikigai, as is self-awareness. Find the activity you love, surround yourself with people you love, and stay true to that internal compass.
~ David G. Allen, CNN, in “Ikigai, the Japanese path to live longer, happier”

I know what they’re saying is true. But it’s not so simple, is it? “Internal compass,” huh? I’ll explain. That’s one of my favorite topics.

image - happiness

Happiness is not all about rainbows. But in this case, a rainbow did make me happy, and I danced with it. For me, following the happiness that appears is so key. Those moments of trusting and following instincts add up.

“How do I get one of those Internal Compasses?”

From what I’ve seen up close and personal as a coach, most people, in Western cultures, have a very hard time understanding what is their internal compass and how to hear it.  Continue reading

Informational Interviews for Introverts: A Cheat Sheet

Dear Val:
“I hear informational interviews are important so I can explore career and business ideas, but how does that work? Huh? What? Who do I ask? What do I say? They’ll think I’m weird…”
~from almost every introvert I talk to (at first)

Yes, asking people questions about their path is such a helpful step in finding your own path. And yet, it seems awkward, at first, for many introverts.

Informational interviews are good for when you’re exploring career ideas, business ideas, new niche ideas for your business, retirement ideas, and more. There’s so much gold in there.

I hate seeing so many people get stuck on this step. Let’s make this simple, right here and now.

There are particular concerns that I notice introverts raise about informational interviews. Do you recognize these?

  1. Won’t I be bothering the person if I ask them to speak with me?
  2. How can I find people to interview?
  3. I can’t just cold call some stranger I found online!
  4. I don’t know what to ask. I’ll be tongue-tied.
  5. I don’t know enough about the field to ask good questions. I’ll sound stupid.
  6. I don’t know what I’m planning to do yet, so I’ll seem unfocused.
  7. Is it a call, a lunch invitation, what? What’s the etiquette?

First I’ll give my short answer to each of those classic concerns, then I’ll elaborate and give you some basic steps including what to ask.

Elephants showing us an informational interview

It could be as sweet and simple as this.

Continue reading

What If You Don’t Know What You Want?

I’m realizing how common it is for people to think there’s something wrong with them if they don’t know what they want, in their work, their business, or their life.

I often hear things like this:

  • “I don’t have a clear goal or vision for my future, so I might be a hopeless case.”
  • “Other people just know what they want, but I’m not one of those people.”
  • “I’m trying to be self-employed but really I need to figure out what I actually like.”

I feel sad when someone thinks she is “a hopeless case.” In reality, lack of clarity on what you want is super common. It’s probably the norm!

But then, what to do?

[image - looking out wondering] Continue reading