Articles about Career Development

Building a Career from Your Heart
(Part 3 of 5 - Copyright 1998-2012 Carol James)

Your Talents in Action

Your unique niche in life (your dream career) includes using the talents you most enjoy using in a way that meets others' needs or solves their problems. The first section of this Inspired Living theme helped you to uncover the talents that you most enjoy using, which will help to insure that you will be doing those things that bring you the greatest levels of career fulfillment and success, because when you are expressing yourself in the ways that are most aligned with your desires, motivations, natural skills, personality, preferences, talents, etc., then you can't help but to enjoy yourself and be good at what you do.

That brings us to the second part of finding your niche in life: How your talents will meet others' needs. When you have a passion for what you do and are good at it, others will be willing to pay you to do it for them. So the second part of finding your unique niche in life is all about revealing the essence of your talents, identifying the market for your talents - narrowing down the needs of 6 billion people and millions of organizations - and finding effective ways to connect to those people and companies who are wanting and needing your talent. Without identifying a market for your talents, you only have a great hobby, not a career. And since we are assuming you want to get paid for what you love doing, you will need to spend some time on the second part of the equation as well: Identifying the market for what you do.

Let us give you a simplified example of what we are talking about. Let's say that Mark has discovered that the talents he most enjoys using is gardening and teaching. That would fulfill the requirement for the first part of the equation, identifying what he loves doing. Next, Mark needs to consider who can use his talents. After thinking about it, he comes up with a possibility: There is a growing movement of people around the country who are wanting to know how to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables, because they feel that there is a lack of nutritious and chemical-free fruits and vegetables at their local supermarket. These people want to get back to the basics of growing fresh, organic produce. So he thinks about various ways in which he can share his knowledge of gardening with those wanting to know. One possibility is to start a weekly gardening class out of his home (or more precisely, out of his backyard). He can also write articles for various magazines and publications sharing new tips and techniques about organic gardening. He can start an on-line web site where he can educate a broader audience around the world and have a place where he can sell his "Secrets to Successful Gardening." There are many more possibilities to how Mark can reach his market, but you get the idea. As he spends time developing ideas on possible markets, he is much closer to the reality of being able to make a living with his talent by fulfilling the requirement of the second part of the equation, identifying the market.

The first step in identifying your unique market is to find the essence of your talents, which reflects the first side of the "your unique niche in life" equation and will help you to identify the essence of the talents you most want to use in your dream career. The section after that, Identifying Possible Markets, reflects the second part of the equation and will help you identify specific markets or avenues where others need your talent and might be willing to pay you for it.

The Essence of Your Talents

As you completed your Personal and Professional Profile summaries, did you notice a pattern emerging in your responses to the activities? In my career, there is a direct correlation between my responses to the Personal Profile and Professional Profile experiential activities and my dream career. I love what I do now, but I didn't always love my work. The career of my dreams didn't begin to emerge until I started focusing on all that I loved to do and the ways in which I expressed myself that brought me the greatest satisfaction and enjoyment.

One thing that I noticed in my own responses was that there was a clear theme in those aspects of me that brought me the greatest satisfaction. That theme represents what I would like to do in my life, the essence of which could be captured using verbs. For example, when I look at my own responses, my summary would look like this:

Aspect Responses
Strong Intelligences emotional, intrapersonal, interpersonal, verbal-linguistic, visual-spatial, intuitive-imaginative, life-beingness
Personality Traits introvert, dreamer, feeler, open-ended, left-right brain
Roles individualist, improver, creator, teacher, leader
Communication Style consultative
Areas of Interest understanding life, self-inquiry, personal development. lifestyle enhancement
Projects I Enjoyed designing, setting up and implementing employee Development and Skills Management programs, creating and facilitating a dealer training program, creating documentation, developing software, developing educational programs
Industries I Enjoyed self-help, personal growth, Human Resource Development (employee development, career development, skills management)
Tasks I Love Doing creating educational programs, developing workshops and seminars, writing user manuals
Skills I Love Performing creating, facilitating, teaching, coaching, consulting, speaking, writing, making decisions, managing, leading

The primary verbs that I would choose to indicate the essence of what I want to do would be:

Create  Write Teach Inspire Improve Study

So what is my dream career? Exactly what I am doing in my life now:
  • Expressing my Introvert, Intrapersonal, Life-Beingness side by spending huge amounts of time studying, thinking and pondering about the nature of beingness and life.
  • Expressing my Dreamer, Creator, Leader, Improver, Individualist side by building the cyberplace Inspired Living Community and by developing educational materials and programs based on the insights I've acquired.
  • Expressing the Interpersonal, Verbal-Linguistic, Feeler, Emotional, Intuitive-Imaginative, Consultative, Teacher side by writing books, articles and newsletters, facilitating workshops, mentoring and coaching people and speaking to groups about personal growth and lifestyle enhancement.

Pause & Ponder

Now it's your turn to find the essence of your talents. Remember, a talent is something you do. There is some kind of action involved in it. To help you identify the core talents you want to carry forward in your career, we have prepared a list of action verbs designed to help you get at the essence of your talents. What we want you to do is go back and carefully review the Personal and Professional Summary Profiles. Use the profiles to form some ideas about the essence of what you love doing. Then review the set of action verbs listed below and check off any that you feel best represent the essence of those talents you want to express in your ideal career. Maybe there is only one or maybe there are several. Just check off whichever verbs you feel represents the essence of what you want to do.

Looking at the summary of your own Personal and Professional Profiles, what verbs would you use to express the essence of what you want to do? Note all verbs that apply. If you think of a verb that applies to you, but that is not listed, add it.

  Advertise   Collect   Design   Guide   Orchestrate   Serve
  Advocate   Combine   Develop   Hatch   Originate   Solve
  Analyze   Compose   Evaluate   Help   Plan   Study
  Assemble   Construct   Expand   Improve   Pioneer   Support
  Assess   Create   Explore   Inspire   Promote   Teach
  Assist   Critique   Facilitate   Lead   Publicize   Unite
  Build   Decipher   Generate   Learn   Research   Write

A Deeper Exploration into Your Talents

Next, we want to get a little more specific and descriptive about your talents by building upon the action verbs you have already selected. It is one thing to know that you love writing, yet it is quite another thing to know that your passion is writing love poetry. Being specific and clear about your talents will insure that you will be doing what you love. And that's what we all want, right? That is why this is no time for being vague about your talents. Most of us weren't born knowing what our favorite talents were and how we wanted to use them, and even if we were, we've done a good job of ignoring and burying those dreams and following more "practical" impulses, because that is what we were taught to do. Most of us haven't been taught to get really clear about what our talents are and how we want to use them, and so we end up settling for a job or career that utilizes far less than our full potential. This isn't your fault. It's just that no one has taught you how to make full use of your career potential. We know that you are serious about transforming your present work situation into the career of your dreams (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this), so we suggest that you take full advantage of the following exercise to get really clear and specific about the exact talents you want to use. The time you spend getting clear about what you want will more than pay for itself in the future. After all, what are the chances of creating your dream job if you don't even know the exact talents you want to use in it?

So, for each verb that you have selected, you will want to write a clear and descriptive sentence describing your talent and how you most enjoy using it. For instance, let's say that one of the verbs you chose was "research." Research, by itself, though it may accurately describe a talent you have, is very general and lacks any real meat. It is not enough to say that you have a talent for research, unless you don't care about what kind of research you do. And if you didn't care about what kind of research you did, you probably wouldn't be too worried about discovering your dream career because if you want to do what you love, you realize that you must also get specific about how you want to use your talents.

How can you get more specific and beef up the action verbs that describe your favorite talents? Well, you can start by asking yourself some specific questions about how you see yourself using that talent in the ideal way. Let's use the "research" example to illustrate some examples of the types of questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • What kind of research do I love doing?
  • What kind of information do I love to research?
  • What subjects do I enjoy researching?
  • What methods of research do I love to employ?
  • Do I like to research specific events that occurred or do I prefer researching famous people? Or do I like researching the kinds of financial and public records found in courthouses? Or would I rather research books on a particular subject? Or do I enjoy finding cutting edge information found only on the Internet, etc., etc.?

In other words, ask yourself to get as clear as you can about how you want to use each talent. After all, if you don't decide, someone else will. To give you an idea of what a clear descriptive sentence might look like, here are some "research" talent descriptions you might have written depending on the way you would like to express your research talent (of course, assuming that research was one of your favorite talents):

  • I love to research the biographies of famous historical figures by using books at the library, reviewing old newspapers, interviewing people who knew them, and connecting with other historians on the Internet who have uncommonly known information. Or . . .
  • I love to research the results of the most recent scientific experiments and findings on the human mind by reading the latest scientific publications. Or . . .
  • I love to research the financial trends of up and coming companies in the stock market. Or . . .etc., etc., etc.

Can you see how much more valuable these statements are rather than just vaguely stating "I love to do research"? If you leave it with just a general statement like "I love to do research," then you might settle for a job that uses your research skills doing background checks on prospective employees and find yourself bored, frustrated or unfulfilled. And since that is not what you want, it pays to be as specific as you can up-front, thereby avoiding the creation of another dead-end job you can't stand.

Another point to be made is that any one talent can be used in an almost infinite number of ways. The point here is to be clear about the ideal way you want to express that talent. For example, others may have the same talent for, let's say, "communicating" as we do. But we will all have different ways that we most enjoy using that talent. That is what makes us all unique. Both of us like to "communicate" by writing informative and useful self-help books on creating the life of your dreams. Someone else may like to communicate by reporting breaking news on a nationally televised news station. Another person may most enjoy using his communication talent to translate English language masterpieces of literature into Spanish. So, you see, there is a wide, wide range of expressing even the same talent and that is why being clear and specific about the way you want to express it is a necessary pre-requisite to achieving your goal of building your dream career.

One final comment here before we turn you loose on the next exercise. Do not limit yourself by pre-judging that there is no market for your most favorite talents. There is a temptation inherent in all of us to judge our future based on our past. If we haven't ever used our favorite talents in the ideal way in a work situation in the past, then it may be difficult to see how we will be able to do it in the future. If you've been an accountant all your life and yet you feel your greatest talent lies in inventing and creating a new kind of fishing lure, then chances are you may be saying to yourself, "How in the world am I going to be able to support myself with my passion for making fishing lures?" It may seem very impractical to you now. But for the sake of your career happiness, do not shortchange yourself now by only listing those talents that you think are "practical". Do yourself a favor and postpone judgment on what you can or can't do until you've read all subsequent issues.

One of our firm beliefs as authors of this article is that for every favorite talent you have, there is a market for it. People are making money with the "craziest" ideas. Just look around. The next section on finding your market will help you get clearer about how you can make money with your favorite talents, so let's take this one step at time. Don't let the issue of money get in the way just yet. We will address that later on. Besides, no one says you have to quit your accounting career just yet. You can use your spare time to build what you love until you are at a place where you can say goodbye to your past career and fully embrace your new one. No one ever said that you have to make this transformation overnight. One really good question to ask yourself as you go through this next section is, "If money were no object, what talents would I want to be using and how would I ideally want to be expressing them?"

Pause & Ponder

Take out a sheet of paper and enter each of the talent verbs you selected above. For each verb formulate a descriptive sentence about how you want to use it. A good overall guiding question to ask yourself as you are formulating these descriptions is, "How do I see myself using this talent in a way that would be most fulfilling to me?"

The Power of Touchstone Experiences

A friend of mine related his childhood fear of   the dark and how he imagined all kinds of scary things happening to him in the middle of the night. He was sure that the boogie man was living under his bed, waiting for the perfect opportunity when his guard was down to pounce on and devour him. Finally one night, when he couldn't stand it anymore, he ran into his parents room certain that he had narrowly escaped swift and sudden destruction. His parents patiently took him back to his room and searched under the bed for the boogeyman. As he was thinking, "Of course, he wasn't there. The boogeyman never shows up when parents are looking for him." his mother, somehow sensing his thoughts, knew that it was going to take more than looking under his bed to console him. So she tucked him in and sang him a song. After a couple of minutes of listening to his mom's voice, he stopped being afraid as a sense of comfort washed over him. She explained to him that if he ever felt afraid again, all he had to do was remember the song she sang and he would feel safe. That experience became a touchstone that helped him overcome his fears.

Experiential Activity

A touchstone is something - an experience, object, picture, word, or remembrance - that reminds you of something else, particularly what you want. Most of us naturally have touchstones. For instance, thinking of a particular person might bring a warm, loving smile or remembering a funny story evokes a chuckle and a lightness to the heart or a picture of your thin self to remind you to not overeat. The value of a touchstone is that it serves to remind you of a particular state of feeling and has the power to instantly transport you to that feeling. For instance, in times of stress or fear, a touchstone can remind you that all is well. It can also serve to help make sure that you don't lose sight of what's most important to you, so that you don't end up compromising on your dreams and settling for far less than your potential.

During your search for and transition to your dream career, the road could contain a few bumps, stones and pits, and a touchstone will help you overcome the fearful feelings those obstacles may invoke. So before continuing on with the rest of this article, take the time to create a touchstone experience to remind you about what it feels like to be on track as you go forth creating your dream.

Pause & Ponder

Set aside some uninterrupted time to pause and reflect upon all that you have discovered about yourself thus far. Review the summaries of your Personal and Professional Profiles, and the talent descriptions you have just written. Allow yourself to daydream, closing your eyes if you want to. Allow all that information to float around in your mind and enjoy the vision of what you are creating for yourself. As you watch this vision in your mind's eye, allow yourself to be inspired by all your gifts, by all your talents and by the ways in which you will be expressing them in your ideal career. Actually see yourself doing your dream career, picturing yourself as if you were already doing your career in the present moment. Imagine yourself being successful and fulfilled doing what you love. See yourself in your ideal working environment, noticing the surroundings and how they make you feel. Imagine the positive responses you are getting from the people you work for and with. See yourself expressing your full potential and notice how good that feels. Just sit with this private vision for a few minutes and savor how that feels.

By using your creative imagination and putting your heart into this exercise, you will feel really connected to your dream career and inspired by that vision. You can tell if what you are envisioning is your ideal career, because your heart will be singing and you will be feeling excited by the vision. It feels really "right" to you, turning you on, so to speak. That's the whole point of a dream career. If you don't feel excited and inspired by the vision of your ideal career, then we would suggest that you re-examine your responses in the previous exercises until you come up with something that does excites you.

If you felt wonderful and inspired by your vision, then use that vision and accompanying feeling as a touchstone experience to faithfully remind you of your goal, especially as you begin to research different career possibilities to turn that dream into a reality. For example, let's say that you're on a job interview and by the way the interviewer describes the job and what's expected, you're not feeling very inspired by what he says. The interviewer is not describing to you the vision you had seen for yourself, and you don't feel excited by the interviewer's vision, so, naturally, your heart is not going to be singing, "Yes, yes, yes." That is a signal to you that this is not the job aligned with your vision of your dream career, which will help you to successfully navigate the waters (the process of creating your ideal career) until you have landed on dry land (actually doing what you love and making a living at it).

Take the time to concretize the mental vision of your dream career by writing a vision statement. There are no hard and fast rules for writing this except that it is an accurate statement of what's in your heart and what you really want to do. When you write this vision statement, let go of that little voice that may be saying, "you can't do that" or "you're not good enough" or "don't be silly, you can never achieve that" or any amount of other self-defeating chatter that might be going on in your head.

The length is not important as long as it includes all the components that are important to you and you feel inspired about what you have written. Paint a picture in words of all that you imagine your ideal career to be, describing your ideal working environment, projects you will be working on, the kinds of people you will be associating with, the talents you will be expressing, the lifestyle you will be living, how you will feel, etc. Later, as new information occurs to you, you can always add to your vision statement.

For now, don't worry about how you are going to make this career happen. Don't even worry that you might not yet be able to label your career or profession. We'll get to that later. The important thing is that you are able to identify some very important elements about your career and about yourself, which we have been doing since the beginning of the theme. The important thing is that the types of activities you will be involved in and the talents you will be using are becoming clearer and clearer. The "how to make it all happen and pull it all together" part will be revealed one step at a time as we continue our journey together throughout these Inspired Career articles. So, for now, relax, be patient, acknowledge yourself and appreciate all that you have learned about yourself and the clarity you have gained about what you would most love doing in your ideal career.

Again, the reason for creating this vision statement is to be a guide for you as you narrow down options in the future. This will give you a point of comparison as you consider options and make decisions that will affect your career. You will be able to look at all your options (after you have gathered the information about each one) and ask yourself if it is a good match with your vision.)

(Go back to part 2 of 5)   (Go next to part 4 of 5)

1998-2012 Carol A James. All rights reserved.

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