More than a few of my career counseling clients have noticed the obvious joy I have in my work. “I wish I could feel that way,” a recent client said as he conveyed his dread at heading back to his office. “I just feel anxious all the time, wondering what I am going to do for my career.”
I remember that feeling. I started my career as an attorney. I liked my work in the public sector where I was doing good. I did not like my work in the private sector where I was doing little good.
Even while I was in the public sector, I knew the law was not a fit. When I was a criminal prosecutor in Philadelphia, I heard a distinct voice in my head say: “I’m meant to be building people, not breaking them down.” At the time, I was working on a case involving a multiple murderer. So, I felt like I was doing the right thing. But it just wasn’t me.
Those thoughts grew into mild anxiety about my career path as I worked as an enforcement attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, DC. Again, I had no problem seeking justice against white collar criminals. But, I knew this was not my calling.
And, when I went into work at big law firms, my anxiety about what I wanted to do grew so much that I wondered if my normal perpetual cheerfulness was vanishing for good.
When I committed myself to becoming an education-entrepreneur, my career seeking anxiety disappeared. Sure, I still had flashes of anxiety about all issues that come with entrepreneurship but I also had a great deal of joy related to building my career.
When I began career counseling, I realized that I was almost messianic in my zeal to get others to find a career they love. I wanted everyone to escape anxiety and experience joy. “It doesn’t have to be that way.” I would tell clients. You don’t have to be anxious about your career. You can be joyfully building it instead.
I’ve tempered my unbridled enthusiasm a bit as I realize that “I know” it can be done because I did it. My career counseling clients don’t really know because they are still seeking. Let me assure you – you can build a career you love also.