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“Life is all about not knowing, and then doing something anyway “

October 24, 2015

“All of life is like this”. Says, Mark Mansion in a recent blog post

“Life is all about not knowing, and then doing something anyway “ continues Mansion

Aside from the colourful language, this is an excellent article. Over the years, I have helped hundreds of people to get un-stuck in their career or in life. It can happen at any stage – even for people who have been successful all their lives or those about to retire. This is a “must read”. if you are stuck.  Get ready, though,  it likely says what a lot of people around you are already thinking, but afraid to say.

As a career consultant, one of the toughest jobs is to figure out how to help a client  to “unstick themselves”. Getting unstuck is no easy task! Fear is often talking the way it has done since their childhood- and it may be so common that they do not notice it.

Sometimes what clients want to do is right in front of them. I can see it, but it is not visible to them, through the filters of their brain, They see all kinds of reasons why it would not work: “I don’t want to spoil what I love by turning it into work”; “I am not good enough to do it as a job”; “I don’t have the right training”; “it would change the meaning of what I do if I got paid for what I love doing”; “It is not really work”; “I can’t make as much money doing that”; “my partner would not be happy”; “my parents think I could do more”; “I would  need another degree”.

But for all of the reasons that Mansion describes, their best strategy is to just get started doing it. Find a way to get started in their field. Maybe its not exactly what they want to do or maybe its below their self-assessment of their skills, but my advice is to just get started. And if it fails, then its important to think how much they  enjoyed trying; revise their approach or reinvent the idea or their path in a completely different way and try again and again and until they succeed.

My experience does not align with Mansion’s idea that “if you have to look for what you enjoy in life, then you’re not going to enjoy anything. And the real truth is that you already enjoy something. You already enjoy many things. You’re just choosing to ignore them.”

My experience shows that he is correct in saying  that sometimes, they are ignoring them. Resistance may be preventing them from  moving in that direction. At the same time, it can also be that life’s choices or challenges has taken them away from the things that they enjoy doing. An example is the parent who gives up what he or she enjoys doing, to take a job that brings more money into the home. Their priority, at that time, may be to optimize the development or future prosperity of their children. Sometimes, by the time this priority is accomplished, their field  has changed or the strengths are forgotten or they have changed. For new graduates, what they really enjoy doing, may be what they gave up, to study what they excelled  in academically; or what they did in their summer jobs. It is not being ignored; its being forgotten or unseen as even a possibility. Thoughtful exploration of what people loved doing and were good at in the past brings these forgotten interests to the forefront.

But Mansion is right that overthinking is not the answer either. He reminds us to “Remember back when you were a kid? You would just do things. You never thought to yourself, “What are the relative merits of learning baseball versus football?” You just ran around the playground and played baseball and football. You built sand castles and played tag and asked silly questions and looked for bugs and dug up grass and pretended you were a sewer monster.

Nobody told you to do it, you just did it. You were led merely by your curiosity and excitement.”

Mansion is right about curiosity.  I find that curiosity and excitement are the drivers. Nothing makes me happier than when clients, through their field research, become increasingly engaged in exploring what they are most curious about.

Learn more

Wayne Greenway is the Senior Partner with Career Aviators, a national social purpose firm that specialises in helping professionals to make effective career-life transitions. All profit from Career Aviators is directed to innovative youth leadership initiative in Guelph Ontario.

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