If I were doing something else, what would it be?
Or, how about:
If I could do anything I wanted, what would it be?
Sometimes life imposes changes that you have to make, and this can be hard and frustrating. Heart-breaking. Terrifying.
Life changes are scary, people.
But, here’s the thing. Change can be scary, but it also opens up the door to so many possibilities you might not even be aware of.
I’ve been told by many people who lost their jobs or otherwise had unforeseen Life Changes forced upon them that, after they’ve gotten through the accompanying trauma, it was the best thing that ever happened to them. The big, scary change made them stop and take stock about what was important, what they wanted, where they wanted to be in ten years, or twenty.
There are things we all need in life. Things like food on the table, a roof overhead, clothing, transportation. Things like security for the family, healthcare. I think we can all agree that, if you can’t buy food, you’ve got some serious problems. Very urgent, serious problems, in fact, which that might not give you the luxury of a nice, find-yourself self-exploration.
But … even at subsistence-level, survival time, isn’t it better if you can find a direction that will lead you someplace happy? Sure, if a job at McDonalds is all that’s between you and starvation, head to the golden arches and don’t dawdle. You have to do what you have to do.
Just remember that there’s more to a job than the paycheck. You’ve got interactions with co-workers, chats on the phone with clients. There’s the work environment which can be inspiring or stifling. Your commute can give you time to decompress from your day–or it might drive you up the wall. The work could be stultifying or it could be the kind of creative endeavor that has you jumping out of bed in the morning.
Goals change, of course. There were a few minutes when I was six when I desperately wanted to grow up to be a ballerina–before I realized I not only had no skill, nowhere near enough flexibility, and would never grow past 5’3″. I toyed with the idea of being a doctor once, briefly, before accepting the fact that I really don’t like sick people. (Honestly, you do not want me taking care of you if you’re sick. I’ll cook, clean, and run errands, but you’re on your own in your sickbed.)
My current job, even … I sort of fell into it a couple decades ago and have been there ever since. In some ways, that sounds dreadful–it was never a choice, never a decision, but in many ways it’s been a blessing. The small company I work for ended up creating a job position perfectly designed just for me and my skills. It’s nice. It’s comfortable.
But sometimes you have to make a change.
So–what kind of job would you pick, if you could pick anything? What measuring stick would you use to determine what makes one choice better than another?
And, if you’ve got a dream job out there … why haven’t you taken it yet?