Your career – have you found your ‘thing’?

Your career - have you found your 'thing'?

In my topsy turvy career, I’ve always been a bit of a generalist. I come from a smaller city and being able to do a bit of this and a bit of that has helped me adapt and improvise, (and yes, at times, even survive), through various retrenchments, sackings, economic downturns, restructures, GFCs, and just about everything in between. You could say, my thing has been a bit of every thing. Not that I’m necessarily recommending this approach, but it’s certainly helped me over the years.

I’ve literally been a writer, a creative director, a photographer, a director, an editor, a communications director (still not entirely sure what that title was about), a brand and communications manager (i.e. a client), a head of strategy, and probably a few other things as well.

You don’t actually find your ‘thing’, you choose it.

And that’s certainly one way to go, although not the only one.

And if you speak to most experts, they’ll tell you if you want to be great, if you want to be successful, if you want to get noticed, if you want to find a job… you should find your ‘thing’ and focus on that. And really, I don’t mean ‘find’ because it’s not like it slipped down the back of the couch just waiting to be found. What I actually mean is ‘choose’. Yes, we get to choose our ‘thing’. (Or things.)

I’d love to tell you there’s an easy to way to go about finding, or choosing, your thing. That you could take a quick survey and whammo, there it is. Or go look down the back of the couch. But nope, mostly it consists of doing as many different things as you can, until you find it.

Perhaps it’s the thing you’re best at. Maybe it’s the thing you enjoy the most. Or if you’re really fortunate, it’s a combination of both. Even better if that thing happens to be something people are willing to pay you well to do.

And that’s the sweet spot: Good at it. Enjoy it. Get paid well to do it. Bingo! Do that ‘thing’ as much as you can.

If you can find your thing in that space somewhere, then you’re on a winner. But you won’t always. Welcome to Planet Earth. I’ve written before about the difference between the world we see painted by fluffy feel good inspirational quotes on social media, and real life. And this is another one of those times where the gap between the two can be a virtual chasm.

Meeting needs and solving problems.

Finding your ‘thing’ is no different to starting a business. Some people start businesses because they know and love something, so they try and find a way to make a living out of it. And even if they don’t earn a whole lot of money, at least they’re doing something they love. And that certainly counts for something. While others look at the market, and try and identify wants and needs that aren’t being met. Problems that aren’t being solved. And then go about setting up a business that meets and solves those things. And this is a really good strategy if you’re trying to find a door that’s been left slight ajar for you to stick your foot in.

Let’s be honest here, not all of us can be highly paid travel bloggers, travelling the world doing awesome things on someone else’s dime. Someone has to print those brochures. Design that user interface. Code that, ah, whatever it is that needs to be coded. That’s right, someone has to do, well, the other stuff. If it just so happens you hate planes and really like coding, then have I got some good news for you! Your time is now.

Are you doing your ‘thing’ for a life or a living?

Whatever you’re into, it’s important to know the difference between the things you do for a life and the things you do for a living. Please know, I’m not telling you to sell out your dreams and go work in a coal mine, although if that happens to be your ‘thing’ you’re certainly welcome to do that. Someone has to. At least for now.

But I am saying that carving out a career sometimes involves working out what things are in demand, then deciding whether you could be passionate about doing and being good at one of those things. If not forever, at least for now. Perhaps it’s not a complete backflip on your dreams, but a minor diversion.

No ‘thing’ is forever.

So regardless of what you studied, regardless of where you are in your career, and regardless of what things you really love, if you’re on the lookout for a job and a solid career, maybe it’s time to re-look at your thing.

Oh, and here’s the really depressing and/or exciting news depending on which way you look at it. Regardless of what thing you choose today, there’s every chance you’ll have to choose, and learn, a new thing tomorrow.

I’m not sure where you are right now – geographically or philosophically – but please don’t be afraid to constantly review your thing. Or to choose a thing based at least partly on demand and not just on what you’d most like to do. But hey, maybe that’s just me. And perhaps I’m a giant sell out. I’ve certainly been called worse.


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