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This article is from Issue 58: Jul/Aug 2012

What Am I Supposed to Do?

How to find a career that makes you come alive... Even in a bad economy

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, long hours." This ad was placed in the early 1900s by explorer Ernest Shackleton as he was looking for men to help him discover the South Pole. The ad drew more than 5,000 brave candidates.

Do you think that ad would work today? Are job-hunters willing to work long hours—or be inconvenienced by difficult circumstances?

Chances are, you’re trying to find a job. Oh, sure, most of you have one, but it’s probably not your dream job. Or you might be working part-time.

Are you looking for a safe and stable posi- tion? One where you have a guaranteed salary, a company car, medical benefits and a three-week vacation? If so, you’re probably missing the best opportunities out there. The greatest opportunities today probably don't look like your father's dream job.
As a life coach, I have seen a dramatic shift in the workplace. No longer can one expect to graduate, get a great job, stay with that company for 35 years, get a gold watch and retire. That model is gone forever.

We have seen the collapse of major financial institutions, auto manufacturers, real estate companies and thousands of smaller companies around the world. Long-standing companies like Enron, WorldCom, Tower Records, Olan Mills, Borders and Circuit City are gone. Powerhouse retailer Macy’s cut 7,000 jobs in 2009 as people moved more and more toward online purchasing. Fifteen thousand newspaper jobs disappeared in 2009 alone. Blockbuster Video filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and announced plans to close nearly 1,000 stores as technology increasingly allowed for watching movies without cumbersome DVDs.

Is anything predictable in the current employment environment? Is it possible to find work that lets you embrace your calling and desire to change the world in a positive way? Can you take your unique personality, skills and passions and blend those into meaningful, purposeful and profitable work?

The answer to that question is a resounding yes. It just might look different than it’s ever looked—and you might need to change your idea of what work is.


Previous generations assumed they would work, make lots of money and retire in ease. Unfortunately, many of them discovered that what they thought was security was simply an illusion, and the retirement they anticipated has vanished in the distance.

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