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Create a Personally, Professionally, and Financially Rewarding Career Doing What You Love

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This chapter is from the book
With the downturn in the economy, the elimination of jobs, and the increased desire for work-life balance, people are looking for more stability, greater fulfillment, and increased satisfaction from work. Are you?
  • "There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
  • Nelson Mandela

Bobby and Tess have multiple career acts. Tess is a nanny during the day and loves to engage in her hobby of photography in the evenings and on weekends. Exciting for Tess, her evening and weekend fun has become increasingly profitable, so she has been gradually cutting back her hours as a nanny. Bobby, her husband, is an IT professional by day. As a second career act, Bobby is a Web designer under retainer to a major corporation, keeping the company's pages current, interactive, and brilliant. He also designs Web pages for others, including one for his wife's photography business. Happy with the way their careers are growing, the couple also reached a personal milestone recently when they bought their first house. Some might think that Tess and Bobby are stretched thin and might experience stress from all they have in motion in their lives. Would you be surprised to learn that Bobby and Tess are not experiencing stress, even with a new mortgage and a currently shaky economy? In fact, they credit their multiple career acts with providing them great security in their careers and less stress as they engage in the things they enjoy. Bobby and Tess are busy, and probably could not tell you what was happening in the latest reality TV show, but they are also highly fulfilled doing what they love across their multiple career acts. They are happy as a couple.

The idea of multiple career acts might seem daunting at first. Chances are high, however, that you are already balancing multiple roles in your life. Let's consider the person who has a job and children and provides life care to a family member. This person is already doing the equivalent of three roles. Are you a student, parent, hobbyist, employee, partner, caregiver, coach, and so on? This idea of having multiple roles in your life isn't such a huge departure from what most people already do; the idea is just being applied to your career.

The departure, if you will, is allowing yourself to reframe your relationship with work and what you consider the best way to approach career fulfillment. Under the old rules of employment, people with multiple career acts would be chastised by parents, a spouse, or a nosy mother-in-law for "not having a professional focus," "not being serious about your job," "not sticking with it," and "being too distracted." (Ugh!) In today's employment reality, the happiest career professionals allow their talents across multiple career acts to propel their success and security. They confidently ignore these criticisms because they are changing career acts purposefully, and not spinning their wheels hoping for an employer to provide a situation they will find satisfying. They are happy and confident because they are doing what they love and owning their career destiny. They have lives and not jobs.

Your career is a large, influential, and time-consuming part of your life. Throughout your adult years, prior to retirement, you will spend almost half your waking hours in work-related activities. If you start working at age 20 and retire at age 65, you will spend 45 years of your life working. You will have, on average, 241 workdays each year and each of those days will include 8.7 hours of actual work1 for 2,097 hours of work each year. What sane person would want to be unhappy or feel insecure for that much of his or her adult life? Unfortunately, many are.

There are approximately 152 million Americans working in the U.S. labor force today. On any given day, 75% of them would consider changing jobs. In fact, over 60 million of them are actively looking for a new job at this moment. Are you one of them? With the downturn in the economy, the elimination of jobs, and the increased desire for work-life balance, people are looking for more stability, greater fulfillment, and increased satisfaction from work. Are you?

Do You Need More Personal and Professional Freedom in Your Life?

Is it time for you to redesign your career—and your life—for greater personal and professional freedom? To answer this question, you need only to think about Sunday night. The way you feel on Sunday nights could be telling you volumes about your relationship with work. Are you filled with dread for Monday morning? Moody? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Depressed? Are you crankier than you were on Saturday night? If so, you might be experiencing the Sunday night slump. The source of your Sunday night slump will provide some insight into the relationship you have with work and what might need to change to be more fulfilled in your career. Let's think first about the possible source of the slump:

  • Are you dreading the boredom or monotony of the workweek?
  • Do you dislike the climate, culture, or people within your work group?
  • Are you overloaded and overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be accomplished?

If you are experiencing this, what is your level of Sunday night slump? Even those who have engaging and stimulating careers might experience some of these feelings on Sunday evening as they temporarily mourn the loss of their freedom. If your slump is easily mitigated with an episode of Desperate Housewives, a football game, or a bowl of Ben & Jerry's shared with a friend, then your reactions are probably not too extreme but are likely telling you that you need to make some changes.

For some of you, the Sunday night slump is more serious. In a poll conducted by Monster Worldwide,2 over 80% of American and British workers have trouble sleeping on Sunday nights. In addition to insomnia, if Sunday evenings predictably bring more arguments with loved ones, a loss of interest in the things you normally enjoy, and difficulty concentrating, then your Sunday night mood might suggest that something in your life needs to change and you should reframe your relationship with the concept of work.

Please don't ignore these feelings as they are telling you something important about how you are living a big part of your life—and life is too short to be unhappy or unfulfilled in your work life. Allow those Sunday night feelings to help you uncover whether it is time to change your employer, change your job, or transfer to a more satisfying work situation—a multiple-act career.

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