"And if for any reason you don't like it………." This ubiquitous phase and thought is tattooed in our brain. It is part and parcel of our disposable and short attention span consumer society. Almost any choice we make comes with an "out clause". Like so many contracts, we discuss and agree to a"pre-nuptial" and a "divorce" in the same document. As an aside, unless you are a billionaire, a pre-nup discussion before your wedding vows makes no sense. Before you say "to death do us part" you sign a document that describes the consequences of your divorce. Pre-nups have not only been embedded in our consumer lives but into our lives. We sow the seeds of failure or dissatisfaction before the actual experience is harvested. "Your complete satisfaction" is guaranteed. Even though we know we are rarely if ever "completely satisfied", because we have trained ourselves not to be. This marketing gimmick would not work if everyone who was not "completely satisfied" asked for their money back and returned the "unused portion" and kept the bonus "as our gift". But our gullibility and our impulse buying gene are only out performed by our laziness. So this idea of a satisfaction guarantee is an effective business model.
I see this mindset in the people that seek my advice week in and week out. They reveal great truths about their lives. Their interests, curiosities, experiences, and once in awhile their passions. They see options and opportunities now or ahead. They want to know how to choose, how to have more certainty. They are conducting a due diligence process to evaluate these choices.
Can I/should I leave my job?
Can I switch sectors, industries, or careers?
How can I keep what I have and make this change?
What is my downside risk if it doesn't work out?
Will I damage my future career options by making this switch?
These are reasonable and important questions. They focus almost entirely on the object–the choice, the job or the career. Again, like a consumer who is trying on a business suit or new cocktail dress, we are making an important but ephemeral decision. We are trying on a career costume and want to know what the return policy is.
A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use. Carlos Casteneda
If we are dating, then we are seeking a life partner at some point. When you meet someone special you know because you have emotional and physical reactions that are impossible to quantify. Your heart tells you so much more than your brain. And in the end you listen to your heart, if love is your goal. Otherwise it is just another M and A deal. You merge your assets and acquire a partner. Regrettably this occurs a lot.
Your search for greater meaning and fulfillment can not be quantified–unless you believe money will buy you happiness. 🙂 Your quest for a new career can not be solely guided by a shopping list of questions that compare and contrast the attributes of the existing marketplace options. They have to be driven by what you want? The source of the answers to your questions lies within you. Sir Ken Robinson calls it the element. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it the flow. Daniel Pink calls it your purpose. I call it your SWiVEL.
Some of you are saying, "That's great John. I need a job and you want me to do soul searching. Thanks a million." As I say on these pages all the time, if you are in crises, your process is different. Get out of your crises and then think. Yes, this process is better suited for those who can plan. It is also a crises prevention plan. But most people are dominated by their consumer mindset that has removed their heart from the decision making process.
The study where a group of 1500 people were given the option of joining two groups. Group A was a group of people who were going to pick a career they believed was going to be a practical way to make a lot of money and then they were going to follow their passions after they made enough money. 1255 people joined Group A. Group B was a group of people who were going to pick a career that they were interested in and passionate about and just trust that the money would come. Only 245 people joined Group B.
20 years later there were 101 millionaires out of the 1500 people who signed up for the study. 100 of the millionaires came from group B, the group of people who followed their passions and just trusted that the money would come. Only 1 out of the 1255 people who picked a career because they believed it was a practical way to make a living actually became a millionaire.
My unscientific study of thousands of other people, including myself, have proven to me these findings are true. .
I met a woman last week who asked me, "How did you retain your financial goals and still work in non-profits?" I caught myself laughing and saw she was not amused. It is a good, practical, "want to keep all my marbles" and do something "good" question. I told her I discovered that compensation comes in many forms including happiness. Yes, I had to save for my kids' college tuition, but our family has worked around careers of happiness and personal satisfaction. We have decided that more is not better, that better is better. My family and I have endured three substantial pay cuts and took a second mortgage on our house in making these choices. Not just cuts in pay but in upside equity and bonuses. I described to her how our family discussed these decisions (when the kids got older we voted on my career choices) knowing that my pay and our lifestyle would be cut back. Let me be clear, I made these choices out of pure selfishness. This has little to do with my virtues as a person. Once I learned that my passion bucket had to be full–that my heart had to be satisfied–that my non-financial pay was more important than my salary and my 401k–I sought that work and those careers. I also learned how much less we needed as a family, how I felt better as a husband and parent when my career was in sync with my heart. When I am professionally fulfilled, my heart grows and my ability to give more of myself to my family and others expands.
Lead with your heart. Listen to your heart. Help your heart grow. Be prepared to take the chance, the risk of falling in love. Of making a real committment to yourself and reap the rewards for the people around you.
The door of opportunity opens from within your heart.
Picking paths with a heart render money back guarantees irrelevant.
Thanks for reading. John