How Do You Find Your Ideal Job?

Your ideal job is the activity that allows you to be your natural self, the person you are when you are free from conditioned behavior. By conditioned, I mean the choices you make based on beliefs and values you think you should have in order to be seen as successful.

For example, you believe you have to be fast in words and deeds to keep up with people in the limelight who appear to have it all together. How much they get done becomes the standard by which you measure yourself, and so you push yourself to take on more and more responsibilities. In reality, you work best at a slow pace that allows time to reflect. Your natural self values clarity over popularity, yet here you are, working in a job or business that requires you to behave in a way that is at odds with your innate personality.

On the other hand, you may isolate yourself because you are afraid of the spotlight when what you need is exposure to a wide variety of people to stimulate your imagination. Your natural way of working is to initiate change, solve problems and get things done, not be the passive reactor. As you can see, too much or too little stimulation leads to feelings of alienation, a sure sign you are not in the right niche in work.

To alleviate the stress that comes from adapting to external rather than internal motivation, you may resort to escapes like food, alcohol, TV, the Internet, socializing, or entanglement with others’ problems to keep the despair at bay. Generalized irritability is another symptom that arises when your actions conflict with what you need to be happy and productive. The good news is that you can change adaptive behavior, since it does not reflect who you are.

What Do You Do When You Don’t Feel Pressured

What you do when you don’t feel pressured to conform to others’ definition of success is a good indicator of natural behavior. These choices give you satisfaction and pleasure. They also bring out the best in you. When does this happen and what are you doing? Are you alone, with one other person, or in a group?

Who you are can be defined by what holds your interest for a long time. You never get tired of learning about this subject. The ideal job would use your curiosity to help clients or an employer who has the same interest. Let’s say you are fascinated by one-of-a kind accent furniture, how it’s made, who makes it and who buys it. If working with your hands comes naturally to you, creating your own furniture would be the right path. If selling and publicizing an artisan’s work sounds exciting, helping to market her creations is the niche where you will excel. Again, the right work is natural, so natural it does not feel like work.

Use Your Experience

Negative beliefs about old age often keep people from using their experience to find fulfillment and make money. Procrastination is just one consequence of the fear of getting older, especially when you are in the second half of life. You may be convinced that your productive years are over, that no one wants what you have to offer, beliefs held by many people.

“Isn’t there a lot of competition in the publishing world?” asked one of my older clients when I suggested she write a book about her experiences as a nurse.

“Yes, there is competition in any field,” I said to Ruth. “But what you have to say will comfort patients and their loved ones, offering better ways to communicate during times of crisis.”

I felt excited when I read Ruth’s first attempts at expressing the hopes and fears of patients who were afraid to be honest with their relatives.

“I see this as a little gift book with legs,” I said to Ruth. “The population is aging, and with that come the challenges we all have to face. But don’t concentrate on the outcome; just keep writing. When you have said all you have to say we can find an editor to pull it together. Meanwhile, get rid of the distractions in your life.”

Like many in the helping professions, Ruth was a conscientious, caring person who made herself available to everybody. Her courage to set limits so that she could write ensured that her experience would not go to waste.

Negative Thinking

Of all the deterrents to finding the ideal job, negative thinking is right at the top of the list. This mental habit destroys confidence and initiative, causing you to work beneath your capabilities. Focusing on what could go wrong as opposed to what can go right is learned behavior (conditioning) that keeps many of my clients in a constant state of anxiety. Some believe they have a mental disorder, suffer from chronic depression or other maladies when the problem is the way they think.

When we start working together most of my clients have low tolerance for not knowing, a need for certainty that can never be met, since finding one’s passion is a process with many setbacks and delays. Intolerance for ambiguity is the direct result of growing up in a society that values getting the right answer more than feeling and intuition, the impetus for creativity: what is not known – yet.

So how do you develop positive thinking without becoming overly optimistic? Begin by noticing what you think about all day long. This takes extraordinary alertness, since thoughts are lightening fast. But you can recognize when you are being negative by how you feel about yourself and life in general.

As an example, you are going to take a risk that excites you. Boom, in comes a thought about this being a stupid idea; that you are bound to fail, on and on until you feel sick to your stomach. When this happens stop and ask yourself three questions: What was I thinking just before I felt so badly? Whose is the voice of gloom and doom? What fear is prompting this reaction? If you fear you aren’t smart enough, for example, say to yourself, “I need the stimulation of this risk; and, I wouldn’t be thinking about doing it if I weren’t smart.”

The more you observe what you think, the more you realize when your thoughts are pessimistic, which explains why you feel anxious and depressed. Looking at what is going on inside your mind can be shocking at first, then embarrassing, and then liberating. As you shake of the shackles of conditioning you see what you could not see before, the behavior that is natural to you. In fact, you may discover that you are already in the niche where you can reach your full potential. Like Ruth, you just need to use your resources in a more creative way.

Nancy Anderson is a career and life consultant based in the Sacramento/San Francisco Bay Area and the author of the best selling career guide, Work with Passion, How to Do What You Love For a Living, and Work with Passion in Midlife and Beyond, Reach Your Full Potential and Make the Money You Need.Her website is

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