Burned out to Bulletproof

You might have been fired from a job you loved. You might have once known what your goals and passions were, and what you were good at, but over time the excitement faded.

In a competitive job market the chances of being replaced by someone who’s more enthusiastic and willing to work for less money are pretty good.

If you were burned out on your job but thought you hid it well, think again. People aren’t as dumb as they look. Burnout can unconsciously send a message that you don’t want to be there.

Losing your job can be an opportunity to transfer your passions to a more interesting and rewarding format, and a chance to earn more money.

It’s important to identify what actions and desires are meaningful. Meaningful actions are activities that produce real satisfaction right down to your core. When you identify work you’re passionate about, work that gives you a deep sense of accomplishment, you can figure out a way to earn a paycheck. You can do what you’re passionate about in any context, whether you end up as a business owner, independent contractor, or working for “the man.” If you do what comes naturally and it’s work that you honestly love, you’re bulletproof. Being bulletproof means that nothing will stop you from doing what feels right, even if you are fired. Your passion will always sustain you.

To find your next career, you first have to identify and connect with your true passion. If you’re blocked, try some of the exercises career experts have recommended.

Write a letter to a person who means a lot to you. Answer at least one of the following: What did you dream of doing you were a child? (Game Show host? Firefighter? Circus clown?) What makes you feel calm and satisfied? What makes you feel accomplished and proud of yourself? If you could do anything, and you didn’t have to make money, what would it be?

Take a personality test to find out what kind of person you are and what type of career attracts you. (Check out princetonreview.com for a free test.)

Observe how it feels to do something you enjoy and think about how to turn that into a career.

Help for the Perpetually Fired

Seriously, what’s going on inside that head? Are you restless? Do you have too much energy for a cubicle? Do you need a job for which you run around outside all day? Are you really an artist who resists just going for it?

In addition to brainstorming your list of passions and skills, it’s especially important to know what isn’t you and doesn’t feel right. When you’re brainstorming, compare your passions and skills with your list of dislikes and weaknesses.

John McCrea is a Managing Partner at Bialla & Associates, a successful executive search consultant firm in Sausalito, California.

“There are important core questions you should ask yourself before starting your job search,” McCrea says. “But the first – ‘What are you passionate about?’ – is probably the most important. This is the foundational question for being happy. It could be an industry – green, fashion, education, consumer products – or it could even be a function. ‘Are you passionate about solving problems,’ or it may be as simple as ‘I am passionate about people and working with people.’ Knowing what you love will help form your career direction.”

McCrea balances his family and professional life on an even keel. In his spare time he plays basketball in the over-40 league, backpacks, and plays his guitar.

McCrea suggests that irrespective of your passion, you probably have learned what you are good at — and, just as importantly, what you are not good at. It could be that you are great with numbers or great with people. Regardless, focus on jobs that leverage your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

What Are Your Goals?

“If your goal is to make as much money as possible, you need to consider that in your job and career selection,” McCrea says. “If your goal is to have a good work/life balance, that also will influence your job and career focus. The simple discipline of answering these questions will help you determine where to focus your energy.

“The more you know yourself, the more directed you will be. And the more directed you are, the easier it is to find opportunities that fit.”

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