The perfect work is one that not only suits your talents, interests, experiences and monetary expectation, but also leaves you free to fashion the life you want. In other words, work that is custom-made to suit your specific needs, says Suma Varughese
The first question to ask on this quest for the holy grail of work is: What is it that I want to do?
In their book, Finding your Perfect Work (G P Putnam’s sons, distributed in India by IBD), Paul and Sarah Edwards give you a list of signposts you can follow to help you identify your ideal vocation:
Four main paths
Having found your destination, you still have to find a way to reach it. The Edwards outline four main paths that most people follow. These are: Harvesting a gift, having a sense of mission, a passion for the work you want, or building up assets.
Gift: Inherent aptitudes, traits and tendencies make up the category of gifts. Cricket came easily to Sachin Tendulkar just as writing did for Arundhati Roy (author of the novel, The God of Small Things). Because gifts come so easily to those who have them, it’s all too easy to take them for granted. Therefore, to find out if you have any gifts or skills you have overlooked, ask yourself: What are the things people repeatedly compliment you on? What do they most ask you to do? What do you find yourself most offering to do? Do they include your capacity for organising? Your cooking abilities? Your empathy with children? Almost anything can be an avenue for future employment. So list them all, no matter how trivial some may seem to be. A word of warning, though. Beware of being trapped by your talent. You may be the world’s greatest teacher or harmonium player, but if it’s not what you want to do, you have every right to boot it into the rubbish bin.
Passion: It comprises the interest and enthusiasm that drive us, sometime manically. These are activities we really love to do. The biggest advantage of earning a living out of what we love to do is obviously the high we get out of it. The distinction between work and play gets blurred. The disadvantage is that we must take care that our enthusiasm for the activity does not blind us to its Spartan monetary potential (unless, of course, you have an optional source of income). Unless you can make a living out of what you love, it will be impossible to sustain. You have to be practical in fabricating the work in a such a way that people will pay for it.
Mission: This relatively rare motivation is reserved for people who see work as serving a higher purpose than merely earning a living. These are people driven by causes; who want to make a difference to the world. What this altruistic path has going for it is that the aspirant’s commitment is usually deep enough to weather the hurdles and barricades that may discourage those operating from other paths.
Assets: This is by far the most common approach road: it entails using experience, academic qualifications and contacts you may have picked up along the way.
While each of those options can offer a cornucopia of opportunities in themselves, your optimum livelihood may well entail combining some, or all of them. Therefore, assess your gifts, passion, mission and assets and list down all the opportunities they collectively present. Do not shoot down any, no matter how far-fetched. You right brain is in action and you need to give it free rein. After listing it, allow your left brain in and examine all possibilities. Don’t make a decision too soon. Check them for practicality, for the flow factor, for the sense of magic. Above all, gauge their monetary potential.
How do you do that? The Edwards put it graphically: “To support ourselves along our chosen path, we have to get connected. We have to find a way to connect what we want to do with what others value sufficiently to pay for. The question is not, “What can I get?” It’s “What can I give?” It’s only when people need what we want to offer that our perfect work manifests itself. What it also means is that as long as we are focussed on fulfilling other people’s needs while doing our dream work, the money will follow.
Tips to spot opportunities
The Edwards offer six tips for spotting opportunities.
Say the Edwards: “Your ideal connection will capitalise on your uniqueness, your thumb print, your DNA, your way of thinking, perceiving, feeling, doing and expressing.” The authors have devised a system called matrixing which helps you intersect your desires (passion and mission, for example) with your resources (gifts and assets) and opportunities available outside.
To sum up: The first step is to ask yourself what you want. Then move in that direction using one, or some, or all of the paths of your gift, your passion, your mission and your assets. Now correlate your choices with existing opportunities. Welcome to your perfect work. Welcome to heaven.
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