Word-Of-the-Week #742: Ideal

October 25, 2018 by  

Ideal that which is perfect and most suitable for you. 

Would you say that your job is perfect and most suitable to your values? Have you ever felt you were in a rut? Do you want to make a difference in people’s lives?

Search for ideal job may evolve along with you,” by Phil Blair is filled with great career advice.

“Mary had just finished her sophomore year of college and was under pressure to declare a major for her last two years. As a result of her father’s request — networking at its best — we met for an informational interview. Mary was still in college and fairly young so our conversation began very generally.

When I asked about her ideal job, she struggled at first for an answer, saying she’d never really given it much thought. After a few seconds, suddenly excited, she declared that, yes, she wanted to be “the next Dr. Freud and discover the cure for addiction!”

Wow, I thought to myself. That sounded pretty darned impressive. But what did she really mean? And where did those goals come from?

Of course, aspiring to become the next Freud was beyond ambitious. And I couldn’t help but wonder why would Mary want to tackle the scourge of alcohol and drug addiction. Intrigued, I asked her to explain. As it turns out, Mary’s father was a successful physician and she’d always been impressed with his desire to ability to help people. More to the point, her father had told her countless stories about patients he had treated for physical ailment, but whose real problem was an underlying addiction to drugs or alcohol.

As we talked, I learned more about Mary and her career goals. She was bright, engaging and well-spoken. Talking to people she didn’t know very well didn’t make her uneasy. In fact, she enjoyed it.

  • Undaunted by new situations or sudden challenges

Indeed, she was clearly undaunted by new situations or sudden challenges. A few years earlier, she had been a lifeguard at a local public pool and helped save a child from drowning by using her first-aid and rescue training. She told me that was her proudest “life moment.”

Then we talked about how her selfless, giving personality might evolve into possible career goals. I offered a few suggestions: How about nursing? School teacher? HR professional? Drug and alcohol counselor?

Though they were all different, requiring varied career paths and degrees, she was self-aware enough to see the common thread of what I was suggesting – that of encouraging and helping others succeed. 

I advised her to learn as much as she could about each of those fields. Do intensive research, I urged her. Talk to experts, ask questions, listen to the answers. One by one, she pursued each of the suggested career paths. Sure, they were my suggestions, but she seemed motivated enough to check them out, if only to make me happy.

And soon enough, she realized that each of them had fairly unpleasant, disqualifying aspects. Nursing meant she had to endure too much second-hand pain and suffering. To be a school teacher required more baby-sitting than actual teaching, especially when the little ones got rowdy. And the idea of becoming an HR professional wasn’t all that exciting to her – though, of course, I’d take exception to that.

  • Helping people who desperately needed her advice

To her surprise, largely because of a recent crisis with a family member, she was drawn to the final choice – drug and alcohol counselor. After pursuing a summer internship at a community clinic, she later told me, she felt fulfilled. She was helping people who desperately needed her advice.

Because she was making a difference in people’s lives, as well as in her own, that’s when her future suddenly came into focus. At long last, she had a plan: She’d pursue a degree in addictive behavior counseling and make that her career. She was certain that’s what she wanted to do, so she did it.

While Mary might never find a cure for addictive behavior, I’m happy to say that she’s now a professionally fulfilled therapist these days. Plus, her patients have the benefit of someone who’s truly devoted to her calling.

What’s the lesson? Don’t be afraid to discover what – and who – you are meant to be. And always keep your radar out for the next best opportunity. You evolve as your career evolves, so don’t get yourself into a lifelong rut. Not now, not ever.”

This week’s focus is all about your ideal. Do you love your job? If not, what would the perfect job be? Does it feel daunting just thinking about it? Is it important for you to have a job that makes you feel fulfilled?

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