You’ve been on the job since you turned 21. Maybe you’ve succeeded beyond your dreams, or maybe life has thrown a curve ball at you. Either way, you’re looking for work you care about, a job that makes you feel good at the end of the day. David Corbett, founder of New Directions, which offers career and post-career planning, and author of Portfolio Life: The New Path to Work, Purpose, & Passion After Fifty, has been advising clients on finding meaningful work since 1986. Here, his top tips for making the next decade really count.
3 Steps To Finding Work That Ignites Your Passions
#1 Look at your life and discover its defining moments. These moments can occur on or off the job. If you think carefully over the years of your life, you’ll discover a thread that is the key to the future. “For me, those moments were situations where I was dealing with people in transition. I did pretty well where people were at a fork in the road, whether it was a summer job or college,” Corbett says. “I thought, ‘Okay, how can I make money at it?’” Corbett realized there was an exploding market of boomers who could use his help. After a dozen years of executive recruiting at Korn/Ferry International, he founded his own firm, New Directions.
#2 Use verbs not nouns to describe what you want to do. “I had a client who was doing well but was tired of his job. He craved more meaning. When I asked him what he wanted to do next, he said, ‘I want to be a VP of sales, but not selling electric motors anymore.’ Like so many people, he was trapped by labels, stuck on nouns. I got him to think in verbs instead. He said, ‘I’m good at meeting people and remembering their names.’ Bingo. He’d articulated something he did well and enjoyed. He ended up in the hospitality industry as the owner of several restaurants and hotels.”
#3 Recruit a board of directors. The executive who moved to hospitality did it at the suggestion of his next-door neighbor, a banker. “You can’t make a career change solo. You have to gather people you can meet with and ask for advice,” Corbett says.
These days, Corbett is meeting more and more people who want to start businesses. “People see the chaos in corporate America, the lack of control you have through mergers, globilazation and downsizing. They think the solution is to own their own business. That’s the wrong reason to do it. You shouldn’t buy a hardware store unless you like hinges.”
However, Corbett goes on to say, being your own boss is fast becoming everyone’s destiny. “At some point in your life, you will be self-employed whether you like it or not. That’s healthy. Successful entrepreneurs don’t wait for things to happen, they make them happen.” Here’s what Corbett advises.
3 Requirements for Small Business Success
#1. Above all, have a passion for your product or service. You must have great interest in order to generate the energy to make it happen.
#2. Know how to manage cash – making payroll, paying taxes, managing a line of credit. If you’re on the creative/marketing side, hire someone who can do this. It’s critical.
#3. Learn how to delegate. People forget this. “A lot of entrepreneurs who are successful at first think they can do it all. Ego gets in the way.”
If you do these three things, Corbett says, the money will follow. His company offers counseling for job seekers, people looking to change careers or launch businesses.