Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

How inspiration can carve out a career opportunity

When you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that don’t open for anyone else ~Joseph Campbell, Author

 When thinking about the work you want to do, there is no better place to start than tapping into your deepest interests, obsessions and the things that inspire you. It may seem obvious but the sad reality is that less than 10% of people are visibly pursuing their passions. As one person in her 20s said to me, “Don’t you do what you love when you retire?”

It’s true that when you do what you love you’ll never work again. By identifying areas of interest or occupations that inspire you, you can create an awareness of a wider variety of possible career paths, opportunities and organisations that you would like to work for.

Many people don’t know what they are interested in. This is particularly the case if they are feeling depressed by their current work situation. In addition, even when they do know what interests them they may not have considered the important role of interests and areas of passion when it comes to making career choices that will stand the test of time.

Deeply embedded life interests do not determine what people are good at – they drive what kinds of activities and environments make them happy. It makes sense, though, that the more you enjoy something the more likely you will succeed at it. As the painter John Ruskin said, “Where talent, interest and motivation intersect expect a masterpiece.”

Passion@work – Tapping into Interests


Some people believe that you go to work, grit your teeth and bear it. Others say that it is unrealistic to expect job satisfaction. But these views couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are just a few examples of people who have turned their interests into fulfilling careers.

Joy spent years as a legal conveyancer – but wanted to do something more creative. One day she was driving to work, stuck in traffic, thinking, “What am I doing? This just isn’t me.” She was passionate about interiors and fabrics, and all her life she had dreamed of owning her own store. She left the security of her steady wage to start up ‘Maypole @ Biggie Best,’ a successful interior design store.

Maree was unemployed, but felt passionate about weaving. Her passion gave her the energy and courage to start selling her creations and now they are in demand all over the world and she employs more than 15 people.

Louise hated her job as a lawyer until she discovered how she could link her passion for animal welfare with her skills as a lawyer. She now works for an international animal rights organisation and wakes up every day looking forward to going to work, knowing she is making a difference in an area she feels passionate about.

Jasmine survived redundancy by purchasing an irrigation business – in this way she was able to combine her love of the outdoors and gardening.

Nora complained that even though she was good at what she did nobody ever asked her if she enjoyed it. The trouble was she had lost sight of her own interests and enthusiasms too. Coaching helped her to tap into her life-long fascination with books. She is now pursuing a career as a literary agent – combining her legal skills and passion for literature.

Charles was interested in books and movies. He brainstormed all the ways people could and do make a living while working in these areas. His list included: movie director, stage designer, script-writer, make-up artist; book critic, photographer, illustrator, marketing, public relations etc. His friends added several other ideas, including editor, sound person and costume designer. Charles highlighted writer of children’s books, illustrator, and photographer as possible career options he would like to look into further. He found that a good place to start was www.careers.govt.nz which has in-depth profiles of most roles. However, nothing beat informational interviewing – talking to people doing the job he wanted.

Synchronistic Support

The more passion and zest you feel, the more alive and brightly lit you are. When you follow your bliss you can’t help but tune into and attract opportunities that allow you to express and act upon the things that most interest you.

For years I have been collecting articles about passionate people. I am passionate about passion! It wasn’t a rational decision. I didn’t plan to be passionate about it. Only when I sat down and consciously thought about how I could make a living from the things that interested me did the penny fall. Then almost by magic people came into my life who provided further support to my dreams. I began to write down in my journal some of my ideas, even though I had no idea how I was ever going to make my dreams a reality. But step-by-step little coincidences began to build, and before I knew it I was on my way to building a business where helping people follow their passions was a core theme. The truth is when passions collide expect to be hired!


 From Student to
Gallery Assistant

Jane came to see me for career coaching. She was a woman in her 40s and the single parent of a seven year old. The year previously she had started studying toward a Bachelor in Interior Design. While the area interested her, she wasn’t enjoying all the computer work involved in the course and was feeling increasingly isolated. She also feared that after four years of study she may not find a job. As we talked, it became clear that interior design was not her true passion.

Initially she asked me to help her find a job. She had been applying for lots of jobs but with limited success, and was beginning to feel despondent about the chances of finding a job that would allow her to be home for her son when he finished school, and that would offer the flexibility she needed.

We worked through a dream job exercise to help her focus her efforts more successfully and she suddenly became really animated and excited. “Ever since I’ve been in the seventh form I’ve always wanted to be an art dealer. I’ve always believed my purpose is to promote art and help creative people make a living from their creativity. It’s crazy – I had completely forgotten.”

Together we worked on several strategies to help bring her dream into a reality including market research and informational interviewing. Collecting images of her dream gallery and presenting these on a ‘story board’ helped make her dreams more real. “I’m so excited – I can really feel my passion growing. This is what I really want to do!”

As a result of her market research, Jane resurrected a partially completed arts degree and is now studying marketing and art history at university. Several weeks later she ran into a woman who owned a gallery and was offered a part time job helping them market their exhibitions. “I can’t believe it. This is my dream job. The gallery is exactly how I imagined it on my story board – it’s even got an architecture studio attached, so it combines all my passions. I feel so lucky. I’m so excited.”

4 ways to feed your inspiration and identify career options:


  1. Identify all the things that interest you and using  your top five interests, list or brainstorm as many possible career options or ways to make money from these interests.
  2. Start an inspiration file and gather examples of other people following their bliss.
  3. Highlight the career options you are most interested in.
  4. Using the list of career options that you have generated, identify ways you could find out more information about them. Be sure to include talking to people doing the job you want.

Quotes to inspire

“Love is not only something you feel. It’s something you do.” ~ David Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church, New York City

“To be inspired is to be in spirit – a place that comes from your soul.” ~ Cassandra Gaisford, Author

“Until you know that life is interesting – and find it so – you haven’t found your soul.” ~ Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher

“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.” ~ Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, French palaeontologist, biologist and philosopher

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