"Work is more than a matter of keeping busy all day. It must feed the soul as well. Laurence Boldt has done a splendid job of explaining this truth. I commend this book to all thoughtful readers and seekers."
—Richard N. Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?
With today's economic uncertainties, millions of Americans realize they must seize control over their own career paths. They want work that not only pays the bills but also allows them to pursue their real passions. In this revised edition, Laurence Boldt updates and revises his revolutionary guide to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century workplace. The first part of this book helps readers to identify the work that they really want to do, while the second provides practical, active steps to finding or creating that work. Zen and the Art of Making a Living goes beyond inspiration, providing a proven formula for bringing creativity, dignity, and meaning to every aspect of the work experience.
"Zen and the Art of Making a Living is one hell of a book. I [feel] that [it] really challenges What Color Is Your Parachute? for leadership in the career field. Nice Job!"
—Daniel Lauber, author of Non-Profit & Education Job Finder
"Zen and the Art of Making a Living has been, for many years, a treasured and often referred to addition to my very selective library. It is that rare combination of the inspirational and the practical."
—Dick Richards, author of Artful Work and Is Your Genius at Work?
"After fifteen years, 4,000 clients and authorship of my own career counseling program, this is simply the best book in its field that I have ever seen! I have reviewed almost all career counseling books, programs and strategies available. None is better than Zen and the Art of Making a Living."
—Jim Fritz, V.P. Program Development Access Influential, Inc.
"Over the past six weeks, I have read and digested your book Zen and the Art of Making a Living. As a therapist and educator, I found your writing very readable and informative. More importantly, on a personal level I was struck by the depth at which many of the ideas resonated in my psyche. I was impressed with the scholarly yet deceivingly simple marriage of the ideas you presented. Your succinct, dear melding of Archetypes, Zen, and Career seemed so appropriate in dealing with the 'Fallen heroes' I travel with daily. I see your work as a source of inspiration for many men and women."
—Larry Dick, L-M Dick and Associates
"[Our staff enjoys] your book, and, of course, we share the book with our students. Your ideas about meaningful livelihood are important to me and to my students. Your book with its basic principle of choosing to be in control of one's career is very valuable to these people. It helps us to help them to create their new reality."
—Lou Smith, Re-Creating Your Future
The subtitle of this book [Zen and the Art of Making a Living] is A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design and it is that and more. The best book, by far, that I have come across on how to identify what your strengths are, how to visualize your ideal job and how to go about bringing it into existence. Hundred of inspiring quotes and dozens of thoughtful checklists. If you go through this book with care, it will assuredly be life changing in addition to thought provoking.
—Prof. Srikumar S. Rao,
Columbia School of Business
"First I would like to say thank you in a very large way! I was given your book, Zen and the Art of Making a Living, last March. I am an outplacement consultant . . . and also have a private practice working with people in career and life transition. It is the best book and most aligned material I have ever come across. . . . Since receiving the book, I have been recommending it, not only to my clients, but to other consultants, career centers, and friends. I have probably recommended it to several hundred people so far. I acknowledge you for an epic and powerful piece of work. It makes my life a lot easier and is a great way for me to support my clients. . . . Again, thank you. Your work is very important at this time."
—R. B., Outplacement Consultant
Colorado Springs, CO
"I have been a Career Counselor . . . for the past ten years. In all of this time, I have not found a book that is as effective and well-rounded. . . . Your book has become a fixture in my career center. But beyond its appeal to me, I think it finally takes career education in the many directions necessary to establish, not only one's identity, but an assessment of what makes work meaningful to an individual. Few, if any, texts I've worked with in the past have accomplished this."
—M. R. H., Career Counselor
"I am writing this letter while enthusiastically making my way thru Zen and the Art of Making a Living and wanted to express my reaction and thanks. For three years, I have run the Women's Outreach Program for a community college in New Jersey, guiding women towards careers thru empowerment, education, and support. I am grateful that there are career counselor/authors out there, like yourself, who affirm and give flesh to the things we try to do on a daily basis. . . . Your work reminds me what the path means and [of] the necessity for tending my own psychic garden so that the fruits of a value-laden life will be mine. Thank you."
—A. F., Career Educator
New York, NY
"I am a career/placement counselor located in New York City. I wanted to thank you for writing such a wonderful book. It seems . . . the unfortunate trend is for people to keep their work and emotional/spiritual lives separate. I believe the integration of the two is the very essence of happiness in one's work life, and I was glad to learn that someone [had] elaborated so eloquently on the topic. I also loved the way your book was laid out-it is very user friendly and interactive, without losing its deeper meaning. Thank you."
—A. S., Career Counselor
"Career Consultant Laurence G. Boldt has written this hefty but light-hearted tome that will help you find yourself and your place in the world. His uplifting prose and inspirational quotes provide support for the weary traveler. Like a traditional career book, Zen and the Art of Making a Living includes resume advice and worksheets for narrowing down and sticking with your goals; however, it takes off from there to guide the reader on a quest for spiritual fulfillment through work."
—Career Services, University of Waterloo
Bridge Between East and West
Review by Margaret Keater
In Zen and the Art of Making a Living, we are not told what Zen is, but, after perusing it,we intuitively know exactly what it means and how this philosophy can enhance our life at work and play.
Boldt's work is eclecticism at its best. In solid Zen tradition, he lets the necessary information present itself in the form for which it is best suited. He provides eloquent parables and down-to-earth, real-life examples. He gives lists of resources, numbered guidelines for activities (such as finding the right employer), and worksheets for discovering your values and needs. He merges discourse on such mundane topics as how to make a follow-up call after you've sent a resume with treatises on such ethereal subjects as the need for myths and archetypal heroes at work. Alongside no-nonsense discussions of such topics as the effect stress has on the body's resistance to disease, he provides lists of personal affirmations that are worth hanging in any workplace. Through all of this, he intersperses hundreds of large type quotations from a marvelously diverse collection of thinkers, including Margaret Mead, Will Rogers, Michelangelo and Lao Tzu. (The collection of quotations alone make the book worth purchasing.)
This is a work to be experienced, a book that must be roamed through until the essential information rises from the pages and greets the reader. To read it from cover to cover would waste its essence.
Still, there's no doubt that even those who are searching for concrete answers and discrete steps to finding deep satisfaction with work will find a great deal of value in this book. For example, Boldt uses nearly every argument possible to convince the reader to ignore the concept of work as a means of making money so that we can enjoy our nonworking portions of life. The reader comes away knowing not just that work can be fun, but that something is wrong if it isn't satisfying.
With Laurence Boldt's guidance, we not only set a firm foot on the bridge between East and West, but we traverse it with a strong, confident stride.
It's hard to imagine that Boldt has forgotten anything in this massive, unconventional volume. He shows a strong understanding of the need for a new view of work in Western cultures. "So often today, white-collar workers are hired for their brains alone, blue-collar and service workers for their bodies only, as though these could be detached from the beings who possess them," he writes. "As a consequence, there is so much emotional pain around work in our culture. This pain spills over into virtually every aspect of life. Families, relationships, and communities are deeply affected by it. We can't really blame anyone for this, or at least, it does us no good to do so. Freedom can't be demanded from others—it must be created for ourselves."
Boldt chooses to center on poetry and art as a metaphor for all work. "How can we bring to work the spirit of Zen—of poetry in motion? We can start by listening to the 'want to's' of our hearts, of our original nature, " he writes. "Dive deeply into being, beyond identity and form. Encompass all around you. Penetrate into absorption—absorb into bliss—sail on bliss—into complete quietness. Enter into emptiness—where 'self' is no more."
That may sound a little too spiritual for someone who's simply unhappy at work, but Boldt is a master at transforming this philosophy into action. He presents worksheets, exercises, and a number of thought-provoking questions all geared toward helping the reader define exactly what his or her bliss is. And, unlike some authors who simply present their one way of determining this information, Boldt presents many ways so that the reader will be drawn to the method that best meets his or her needs.
He then provides an insightful look at the realities of working in various settings, including government jobs, freelancing, starting your own business, and corporate work. He discusses the details of working in specific positions, providing so much insight and factual information that the reader is naturally guided to the right job in the right setting for his or her unique personality.
The final portion of the book addresses how to realize the dream of merging work with self. Boldt uses his training and experience as a career consultant to address such basic career development issues as making a skills inventory, gaining self-esteem, overcoming the barriers to gaining more education, and marketing yourself.
This is far more than a "how to" discussion, though. While the reader will discover how to get on the mailing list for federal job opportunities and how to write grant proposals for funding a nonprofit organization, he or she also will be treated to a beautiful essay explaining the Zen view that everyone is talented and knowledgeable.
- Business Ethics
The Magazine of Socially Responsible Business
Laurence Boldt't Zen and the Art of Making a Living is an inspirational manual that seeks to give people the tools to direct and control their lives so that they can find meaning in their work. It's philosophical . . . but upbeat, down to earth, and practical. Boldt, a career consultant never before published, has written a guide in the genre of What Color is Your Parachute? for job seekers, people unhappy in their jobs, anyone who feels dissatisfied with his or her life.
This is a fat volume (600 pages), dense with ideas (there are more than 500 quotations from sages ranging from Albert Einstein to Michael Korda), strategies, charts, tables, tips, lists of sources, self-evaluation exercises, and worksheets to help you find the work you love. The best part of Boldt's accomplishment is that he doesn't strike any phony notes. You read along, and your head nods in agreement, to wit:
• All great teachers say that the road to happiness begins with the recognition "that beyond the transient desires of ego there lie deeper desires for love and service to all mankind." Most of us don't go this route because we "are too busy running down approval alley." We try to please others, and pleasing is calculated while "compassion comes from the heart."
• "Whatever gets you really turned on, enough to work for with dedication, sacrifice, and excellence, has the quality of this blissful, original nature in it, and is moving you toward your life's work."
• We fear change. "Yet it's not knowing what's coming around the corner that makes life interesting."
• "Allow your natural compassion and bliss to ripen, and you are sure to find your vocation sooner or later."
• Thousands of so-called ordinary people are every day involved in heroic service to their fellow man. Most of this service goes unrecognized and unnoticed by the wider public because it does not fit with the conventional view of what is valuable or important."
• "Loving what you do will give you the confidence you need to do what you love, if you understand that expressing your best in your current work is your ticket out of it, and not a sign of resignation to it."
- Milton Moskowitz, coauthor of The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America
This is the first "business" book from Arkana, a distinguished publisher of philosophy, metaphysics and spiritual traditions—but what a blockbuster! Weighing in a 600 pages, this is a vision of new life/work possibilities that offers direction and encouragement for those looking to express their talents in meaningful ways. Illuminated with generous images from poetry, mythology and art, as well as traditional Zen teachings, it also contains ingeniously organized practical worksheets to guide readers through the steps to discovering and accomplishing their life's work.
In addition to the traditional material on how to assess skills, conduct a job search, write a resume, and succeed at an interview, there is a wealth of information not generally covered by career guides: how to start your own business or nonprofit corporation, how to manage multiple careers, and how to love what you are doing until you are doing what you love! Entertaining, illuminating, packed-with-resources, and refreshingly different, this is a unique career meditation/guide for dharma bums, social activists, reformed yuppies and independent types everywhere.
- Banyen Books
"More Comprehensive" than What Color is Your Parachute?
There are times when we all wonder what our purpose is. Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence Boldt can help answer that question. It could even be the most important book you'll ever read. This 600-page quote-stuffed volume is similar to the perennial bestseller What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles. But where Parachute is "a practical manual for job-hunters and career changers," Zen is more comprehensive. The reader is encouraged not just to find a job, but to discover a calling. Boldt is a writer and career consultant who had practiced what he preaches. He speaks to the desire for a broader conception of work as art—the unique creative expression of the individual. . . No matter what your work situation, Zen may help you make positive changes in your life.
- Caleb Gates,
The bad old days of multiple-choice-test career counseling are over. It takes more than a #2 pencil and a computer to find your life's work, as career consultant Laurence G. Boldt tells us in Zen and the Art of Making a Living, a hefty but lighthearted tome that will help you find yourself and your place in the world. Boldt is quite up-front about it, though: it's a long, hard journey to get there. But his uplifting prose and liberal doses of inspirational quotes from wise men and women provide support for the weary traveler. Indeed, in between learning how to find the kind of work that strikes the right chord for you, figuring out what skills and talents you'll need to succeed at it, and righteously persisting until you get your reward, you may find lapses and stumbling blocks you hadn't expected—but Boldt has seen them all and finds the right words at the right time to keep you moving. Like a traditional career book, Zen and the Art of Making a Living includes resume advice and worksheets for narrowing down and sticking with your goals; however, it takes off from there to guide the reader on a quest for spiritual fulfillment through work, something you won't find elsewhere. This updated edition contains plenty of Internet-related information and other resources unavailable in 1990 and is invaluable for anyone concerned about his or her future in the world of work.
- Rob Lightner,
"In today's job market, the question has become not Can I find a job? but Can I find a job I like? Laurence G. Boldt answers this question with a resounding yes in Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design.
"Even if you are not a Buddhist, or religious in any way, Boldt's book will help you if only by forcing you to focus on the matter at hand: making a living. Boldt encourages the job seeker to read from start to finish, thus benefiting from Boldt's wisdom and lessons on soul searching before buckling down to face the more challenging tasks of resume writing and getting an interview. Yet, the book's clear chapter divisions and multiple sections are perfectly readable separately as excellent references for freelancers looking to polish their skills. You can work on your areas of weakness and skip the other stuff until you have more time.
However, given the quality of most advice from Boldt, readers are likely to find themselves turning back the pages to read everything he has to say. Sidebars range from anecdotes on the enlightenment of Buddha to suggestions on selling information by mail. Throughout the book, wisdom comes from a variety of Eastern and Western sources from Patanjali to Albert Camus, and diagrams point to the relationships between spirit, society, nature, and psyche. Boldt also lists resources on financial aid, volunteerism, and networking as well as "Over 200 Businesses You Can Start with Little or No Money."
"The most informative and helpful sections are the exercises that call for realistic self-analysis. Boldt recognizes that you can't just read the book and expect the perfect job to fall in your lap. Therefore, he makes the reader responsible for the job search by asking pointed questions and plenty of space for answers. This helps you contemplate everything from transition strategies to the "polygamous" life work trajectory of multiple ongoing careers. The reader, in dissecting his or her own written answers, achieves the type of self therapy only the most talented job counselors can offer. Boldt's exercises also leave you in control of your own analysis.
"In a chapter called "Vision Questing," Boldt provides startling statistics on living conditions throughout the world. The inclusion of these numbers serves to illustrate the limited perception with which we operate. While these types of moral lessons are not normally contained in a job manual, they are inherent to Boldt's. Limited awareness of the potential of those around you points to limited awareness of your own potential. You may take or leave Boldt's advice, but his diagrams and lessons will make a lot more sense and prove far more beneficial if you give his views an honest shot rather than dismissing them as unrealistic.
"Most freelancers have already embraced many of Boldt's Zen principles simply by deciding to take responsibility for their life's direction. Zen and the Art of Making a Living provides outstanding resources and information on self-marketing, accounting and negotiations for the freelancer. Yet the true potential of the book comes not from its strength as an advice manual but rather from its lessons on life. In fact, Boldt offers such strong support for the Zen approach that the book is useful even to those who are not currently searching for their mission in life. Making a living is a much larger experience than simply earning money -- it involves understanding the role we play in our lives and creating a life of which we are proud to be called artists."
- Moriah Campbell-Holt,
"Based on the notion that work is an expression of personal destiny, this comprehensive career development guide helps the reader identify "work purpose," key talents, and objectives. Career consultant Boldt moves beyond the basics to address unusual practical and psychological issues such as starting a business, freelancing, founding a nonprofit corporation, maintaining a healthy self-esteem, and building marketing strategy."
- Library Journal
A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design
This book opens with the following quote from Shü-an. "When one happens on a book of this kind, he is well advised to throw it away...". Well, not necessarily in this case- at least not until one has read it and thought deeply about the issues it discusses. If one is searching for a book not necessarily about "getting a job" but about discovering one's life work and purpose then "Zen and the Art of Making a Living" is not only a fine addition to your library but a book that can transform your life. The book does not concern itself with Zen per se. Its breadth is amazing and it pulls from diverse sources of wisdom spanning the arts, philosophy, all religions, anthropology, science, etc.
The book is organized as a play with sections denoting "prologue", acts and scenes within acts. The major acts include: (1) Act 1: The Quest for Life's Work, (2) Act II: The Game of Life's Work, (3) Act III: The Battle for Life's Work and Act IV: The School of Life's Work. Act I is to create and define the tapestry of one's life and shape it actively and creatively- not based on societal convention but based on joy, service to mankind and a hero's spirit. Act I involves vision questing, clarifying values, pointing to purpose, targeting talents and marking mission objectives. Act II is identifying your new career or work. It involves reality testing, careful evaluation and visualization. Act III involves implementing your strategy to achieve your life's work: "taking it to the street", marketing strategies, "sailing the entrepreneurship", "wielding the free lance", looking at non-profit opportunities or landing the right job "street smarts". Act IV is involved with getting there, transitional strategies, training skills, self image, enlisting support and finally loving what you do til you are doing what you love. This book is highly recommended and should have a transforming and beneficial effect on your life.
To love what you do and feel that it matters—
how could anything be more fun?
More than twenty years ago, I began this work with the conviction that people of all ages and professional levels were ready to embrace the challenge of creating work they truly love. Through good economic times and bad, I’ve seen this conviction borne out in the lives of countless dedicated individuals who have found their own ways to put their passions to work. The success of this book and, even more, the many letters and comments I’ve received from readers who’ve found it helpful in mapping their own journeys to fulfilling work have been truly gratifying. This revised edition has given me an opportunity to sharpen and clarify my thoughts on a number of topics. Considerable revisions have been made throughout. The entire text has been updated, and a lot of new material has been added. For those familiar with this book, the bibliography and most of the Web resources that appeared in its previous incarnations have been greatly expanded and put online (empoweryou.com), where they can more easily be kept current.
This book is really about two things: the “what” and the “how” of creating a fulfilling experience of work. Most of the new material in this revised edition addresses issues related to the “how.” For example, I’ve incorporated a variety of new tactics for career development and marketing made possible by the advent of new technologies. Nevertheless, most of the essential principles remain unchanged, with respect to both the “what” and the strategic elements of the “how.” Since this is a large book, it may prove useful at the outset to briefly sketch some of these principles. (The “prologue” and four “acts” mentioned below refer to the book’s five major units; see “How to Use This Book.”)
What to Do: Embracing Your Trajectory
First your must find your trajectory, and then comes the social coordination.
When it comes to the fundamentals of vocational guidance (determining what to do), nothing significant has changed since this book was first written. Indeed, nothing essential has changed in the more than two thousand years since Aristotle wrote, “Where your talent and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.” Were he alive today and whispering in your ear, Aristotle could give no more relevant or timely advice. Over seven hundred years ago, the Sufi poet Rumi wrote, “Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been placed in every heart.” This too is every bit as relevant today as it was the day it was first written. In a sense, either of these formulations (Rumi’s or Aristotle’s) provides everything you need to identify your vocation or life’s work.
If we were to recast Rumi’s maxim as a question, we might come up with something like, What was I born to do? or, What does my heart tell me to do? If we were to reframe Aristotle’s dictum, we might get, Where (or what) is the nexus between my talents and the needs of the world? or, Where can I find a mix of passion and purpose, of joy and meaning? Now, I’ve found that most people have a difficult time answering any of these questions straightaway. On the other hand, if you ask folks a targeted series of more manageable questions, you find that many move definitely (though at first almost imperceptibly) toward an answer to the larger questions.
Act I of this book addresses this process, approaching the big questions in bite-sized pieces. I call it the “quest” for life’s work for the simple reason that questions provide the compass points with which to chart the path to purpose and passion. To ask the questions relevant to fulfilling work is to seek the answers that will transform your work life. The quest for your life trajectory, direction, or purpose moves through the field of visions and the forest of values. In the field of visions, you articulate your worldview, clarify your perceptions, and see where your imagination wants to take you. In the forest of values, you sort out the meanings of life. Competing interests pull you this way and that; yet you find the deepest, most enduring well of motivation and the sustaining values of your life in what moves your heart and soul the most. The quest for passion goes by way of talents and goals. Your talents are your innate strengths—the things you’re naturally good at. Expressing your talents has joy, energy, and creative engagement in it. Goals arise from your desire to grow, to achieve, to complete. In moving toward, fighting for, and completing goals, energy is renewed and released, and as Blake said, “Energy is Bliss!” If you listen to them, your visions and values, talents and lifelong objectives will tell you what you want to do with your life.
When it comes to vocational choice, I don’t rely on personality tests, for the simple reason that the personality is not the soul. The soul, or deep Self, is the source of one’s true passion and purpose, while the personality (from Latin persona, “mask”) is inexorably linked to familial and societal conditioning. The questions suggested by Rumi’s and Aristotle’s vocational formulations are addressed to the soul. Typically, answers to these kinds of questions are not lying around on the surface but are the fruit of a deep inner work. Joseph Campbell called this work “finding your own trajectory”; Carl Jung, “individuation.” The outlines of this inner work are discussed in the Prologue of this book. I call it the “art” of life’s work because the beginning of all creative transformations (whether of form or experience) lies within—in consciousness. More often than not, the recognition of vocation results from a journey of self-discovery. This journey may be undertaken deliberately, or it may be forced on us by circumstances. Either way, it moves us toward that deeper Self, where clarity is found. Some advanced souls seek their own trajectories from an early age. Many more get caught up for a time in socially defined images of themselves and don’t seek their own trajectories until their mid-thirties or well beyond. (If you are in either of these groups, consider yourself fortunate.)
Most of us have been taught to approach work as though the requirements of our souls are superfluous or peripheral to the real business of living. The body demands food and sex; the ego, attention. The emotions want security; the mind, knowledge. In the market society we live in, money is in one way or another tied to the fulfillment of all of these aims. Most of our lives, we are chasing food, sex, attention, knowledge, security, and—most of all—money. Without the real engagement of our souls, all this can seem quite empty as the years go by. For the soul too has its demands. It has a way of letting us know when we neglect or abandon its imperatives—authenticity and responsibility, joy and compassion. At some point, many come to realize that listening to their hearts and souls isn’t a luxury but an essential part of their psychological and spiritual health. With respect to work, they understand that it makes a difference whether they work to go on earning or earn to go on doing what they love.
While they want more from their experience of work, many aren’t sure if it’s really possible to get it. Most of us start with an unexamined but deeply ingrained belief framed in a dichotomy between soul and money. Why worry about what my soul wants? I need money, and I can’t possibly make money doing what my soul wants. Why should I get in touch with my purpose and passion? I will never be able to make a living with those. This reminds me of the fairy tale where people hear rumors of a great and wonderful city over yonder but are told that if they venture over the mountain, some terrible monster will get them. That’s enough to keep most at home. Of course, some do venture over the mountain and discover that the “monster” isn’t nearly as fearsome as it’s cracked up to be. In much the same way, some discover that they can make a nice living—thank you very much—doing what they love. Now, to extend the metaphor, you still have to climb the first mountain (identify your passion), you still have to traverse the peaks and valleys twixt it and the city (develop competency), and you still have to gain the support of others along the way (find a way to market yourself doing what you love). I’m not suggesting that it’s easy to climb the mountain of self-awareness, develop the knowledge and skill you need for the journey, or gain the support you need to succeed. What I am saying is that the path is knowable and has been traversed by many before you.
Identifying what moves you, your passion and purpose, is the place to start. After all, if you don’t know what you are aiming for, your chances of hitting it aren’t very good. Many who can’t or won’t admit what they want to do hide behind the “impossible” meme. Since the desires of the soul must subordinate themselves to the demands of money—why even bother identifying those desires? This is a rationalization—not an argument. It’s clearly possible for people to make a living doing what they love to do, since many are doing it every day. The real question is: Can you do it? Once we admit what we want in our hearts, we immediately confront another challenge. At one of my workshops, the group listened intently to a young woman who stood speaking before them. With obvious joy and elation, she was telling the group what her true passion was. She described the profound sense of freedom she felt in proclaiming before others what she really wanted to do with her life. She was describing how she had come to this realization and what it meant to her, when, suddenly, she stopped abruptly and said, “I feel scared.” She turned from the group toward me and asked, “Is that normal?” I assured her that she was expressing something I’d heard many times before (and since). When we reveal our heart’s desire with respect to work, we feel an emotional vulnerability not unlike what we feel in our first confessions of love for a would-be partner. In contrast to the responses of a would-be lover, we have much more—though far from complete—control over our career destinies. Still, it’s worth pointing out that there is a marked emotional difference between claiming what we would really love to do and discussing the merits of a good job or sensible career. Yet it is only after making that claim that we have a chance of creating a life where what we do matches what we are at the deepest levels.
How to Do It: Making the Social Coordination
Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose.
—Leonardo da Vinci
For purpose and passion, we must rely, not on society, but on ourselves. On the other hand, if we are to transform our inner motivations into viable work, we must coordinate our efforts with the existing social order. We must be capable of doing the work we desire and capable of getting others to help us. That’s what the second half of this book is about. It’s concerned with “how to do” your “what to do” in the world we live in today.
Choose a Career Vehicle: The first coordinating step is choosing a career role. More than anything, society defines us by the career roles we play. I call Act II the “game” of life’s work because, while others will define us by our roles, we are better off seeing our careers as vehicles for fulfilling our self-defined “what to do’s” (purpose and passion). The word career comes from the Latin, carrus, meaning “a wheeled vehicle.” The point of any vehicle isn’t so much the thing itself, but where you can go with it and how it feels when you’re in it. A beautiful car without a battery isn’t going anywhere. An expensive but cramped sports coupe may look great but leave you with a sore back or stiff neck. To the extent that a career role allows you to fulfill your purpose, it can get you where you want to go. To the extent that a career role allows you to be and express yourself—to do what you are naturally good at—you will enjoy the ride. A career role is a vehicle through which to pursue your purpose and express your passion, and it gives others a way of relating to you so they can help you achieve your goals. Act II is designed to help you choose a career that works for you, before you engage in the often expensive and time-intensive process of retraining.
Develop a Marketing Strategy: Since we live in a market society, we all have to market ourselves in one way or another. This is the subject of Act III. Marketing just means getting people to help you do what you want to do—be it someone to hire you or people to buy your products or services or to fund your nonprofit organization. Of course, the higher the quality of your work, the more inclined people will be to help you. But in a market society, there is more to it than that. You have to communicate what you do in ways that connect with your (paying) audience—employers, clients, customers, financial backers, etc. How you market yourself will depend on your purpose and passion and the career role you choose. I call Act III the “battle” for life’s work because however you choose to market yourself, it will take courage and strength to resist the temptation to settle for less than your best, to keep fighting for your “what to do” in the face of resistance. Act III explores a variety of marketing options including conducting an aggressive job search, starting your own business or freelance operation, and starting a nonprofit corporation.
Plan on Growth: Depending on your current circumstances and future goals, additional knowledge and skill may be required to qualify for, and/or to succeed in, your new career. I call Act IV the “school” of life’s work because learning and growing are necessary not only to gain mastery of the work you want to do but also to live a rich and full life. More often than not, what separates us from what we want to do is what we don’t know. This section addresses developing a strategy for transitioning into your new career and includes information on how to maximize and expedite your efforts to acquire new knowledge and skills, how to maintain a positive self-image, and how to gain the support of your family and friends as you make the transition. It also considers how to maintain the positive energy you need to make the transition—by loving what you’re doing until you are doing what you love.
Copyright © 2009-2010 by Laurence G. Boldt
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