Finding the Joy in Whatever You Do. Part 3

Barbara Frankel, a career coach in Great Neck, N.Y., often asks her clients to begin by making a fantasy list of 10 things they would love to be — initially eliminating any concerns about nuts-and-bolts reality — things like education, age, competition or salary. The whole idea is to get the ideas flowing.

What’s most important is to start looking within as opposed to without, says Frankel, who has more than 20 years’ experience helping people with career issues. Too often people want to jump into a hot field that seems to offer lots of opportunity, even if it has nothing to do with the most important criterion for finding fulfilling work: determining what “motivates us, energizes, us, excites us.” The first question, she says, is “What are you good at that you enjoy doing?” Only after that’s unearthed is it wise to start assessing reality, such as how much education you need and what your financial requirements are at the moment.

That’s how she started working with Marion Perkins Weinstein, 53, also of Long Island, whose administration job at a big bank was being eliminated thanks to a merger. Frankel could tell at a glance that Weinstein had a creative soul. Her fantasy list was beautifully designed with computer clip art. And Frankel came to find out that — though Weinstein was very good at all the coordination/administrative jobs she has held — what she loved most was more extracurricular in nature: doing flyer and invitation design work for her various outside activities.

Further assessment showed that, indeed, Weinstein’s little-tapped strengths were creative and conceptual. And she remembered that as a junior high school student enjoying her art classes, she was told: “It’s nice you can draw, but what are you going to be when you grow up?”

With Frankel’s encouragement, Weinstein returned to college to finish her degree, focusing on art and computer graphics. But, as we saw with Kaiser, the road to career change is not always straight. Weinstein found herself getting off-track again, gravitating back toward those coordination-type jobs, but again, with Frankel’s help, she was able to walk away after a few months. “It was so far away from what I really wanted to do — I had to refocus,” she says.

Weinstein is now shifting back to a more creative track. One day she was in a pinch because she had no paper to wrap her nephew’s birthday present. So she grabbed her watercolor pencils and a sheet of art paper and came up with a design so good that she’s now looking into developing a wrapping-paper business — an exciting but anxiety-laden prospect because, as she says, “I’m going to try to do something I want to do, but I have zero experience doing it.”

Which means we may want to end with a reminder of Luther’s line of thinking, that “it’s OK to grow into something new.”

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