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We solve 3 common career dilemmas
WORK WOE: “My job isn’t fulfilling.” News flash: No one, not even a chocolate-bar taste-tester (an actual real job, btw), is 100 percent happy at work 100 percent of the time. “Instead of thinking about a ‘dream job,’ ask yourself ‘What does my dream life look like?’” says career coach Emilie Wapnick, author of How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up. Her research focuses on people she has termed “multipotentialites” (out-of-the-box thinkers with a variety of creative pursuits). This type, she gleaned, are happiest when their lives have a balance of money, meaning and variety. The takeaway? Maybe your boring nine-to-five isn’t that bad if it gives you the freedom to support what you want to do in your off-hours, whether that’s travelling or volunteering at a donkey sanctuary or secretly recording makeup tutorials that you’ll never show anyone.
WORK WOE: “I want to write a book/start a consulting business/run an organic farm, but I can’t figure out how to make the leap.” Enter the pivot, advocated by business strategist Jenny Blake, author of Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One. “Think of your career like a basketball player: One foot stays planted, and then your pivot foot can scan for pass and option,” she says. Figure out your goal and then “ask yourself ‘What’s a small step I can take this week?’” So, future Zadie Smiths, take a creative-writing class. Or, future Peggy Olsons, set up a weekly coffee date with fellow women ad execs. This advice goes for in-office career changes as well. “Don’t wait until you have the perfect time and amount of resources and approval all the way up the chain. Start with one thing you can do now and let it build organically,” says Blake.
WORK WOE: “I’m a lawyer, but I’ve always wanted to be a chef.” Before you quit your job to open your dream resto, Justice Is Served, find a way to test it out. Maybe start a catering side hustle or work as a sous-chef in your cousin’s pizza joint, suggests Wapnick. One, this may be enough to satisfy your creativity. Two, you’ll quickly learn as you’re busing tables whether or not this would really be the right move.
This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.