July 8, 2015

Look For Clues in What You Already Do


I often ask my clients, “What do you enjoy doing that no one pays you for – but could?” I ask this because it can be a good clue to a potential career direction or focus. If I had only pondered this simple question 12 years ago, I would have figured out my second career a whole lot sooner.

When I was still in my dermatology practice, I was doing, or more accurately, attempting coaching before I even knew what it was. My office staff was a captive audience. Many of our meetings were spent listening to motivational CDs, role playing, and taking various personality tests. We would act out different scenarios, such as dealing with the angry or late patient, calling about over-due bills, and other challenging encounters. We would observe how our personality type affected our approach. I think I liked the role-playing much more than they did. I can still see the reluctant faces – please no – not that again! But they were good sports and humored me.

I would attend workshops on all sorts of personal development techniques. And then of course, I wanted to try them out. My aesthetician was kind enough to be a guinea pig for a 40-day personal transformation program I had just learned. We would meet during lunch once a week and talk, and go over the assignments she was doing. That was in 2003. I ran into her this week, and we had a good laugh about those days. She said she had actually just been thinking about the program we did. She was gracious enough to say it helped her think about things in a new way and that she loved the meetings we had. So had I.

There were other “practice clients” as well, such as a friend of mine who is a family physician, she also did the 40-day program. If someone had said to me back then, “You’re going to have a career coaching other doctors, I might have thought, “And what are you smoking?”

The crazy thing is, as much as I enjoyed doing all of these things, I never thought about becoming a coach. I was just doing something I loved. I recall several conversations over the next few years in which someone was talking about coaching as a career. I was peripheral to the discussion. OK. I was eavesdropping. I couldn’t help it. I was drawn in like a magnet. I had so many questions I wanted to ask. My brain was electrified with excitement. But I still didn’t consider this direction for myself. I can’t recall my thinking at the time. Maybe I thought I couldn’t make a living at it; that coaching was my hobby. Perhaps it seemed too far-fetched and not something doctors did. I was not ready to consider it for myself.

It wasn’t until a number of years later, after I sold my practice, that I had the “Eureka!” moment. I was taking something called, The Passion Test. It is designed to help you determine what you want your ideal life to look like. I’ll never forget that moment. I was sitting on my back porch working through the test, writing my answers out on recycled scraps of paper. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, this kind of stuff is soooooo much fun, I just love it!” I was about halfway through the test when it hit me like a lightening bolt. I threw the test up in the air and said, “This is it! I want to help other people live their ideal life! I want to help them find their passion!” I never finished the test. I didn’t have to. It had served its purpose.

Now, what about you? What is it you enjoy doing that no ones pays you for – but could?

Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like a potential career. The point is to look at skills you love using, and what this says about you. I have people tell me they’ve been writing stories since they were 6 years old, or that they keep folders on interior design ideas, or that they love planning and catering events. Clients send me amazing photographs they’ve taken, incredible artwork, and poems. Others are giving impromptu talks in the doctor’s lounge on financial planning. One client is working on inventing a medical device. Another loves doing real estate deals.

Even if you’re not looking for a new career direction or focus, there is great value in noticing and honoring your interests and talents. Give yourself the time to feed your soul. You will find joy. You will find renewal. And maybe even your Eureka! moment.