THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Passion suit: Your job should make you happy
Sarah Kenny wakes up at 5am six mornings a week to get to Back Bay Yoga in Boston where she practices ashtanga– a school of yoga known for acrobatic lunges, feet tucked behind the head, and almost 50 pushups in one session. After that, she goes to work as a senior operations specialist.
For Kenny, both pieces of her life are important. "I'm good at my job, and I'm good at yoga, and I had to figure out how to balance both," she says.
One of the most liberating moments in career planning is to realize that you don't have to get paid to do your favorite activity in order to be happy. One of the constipating situations is to think there's only one career that can be fulfilling to you. Get rid of the idea that the most important thing to a worker is work, and you free yourself to make work just one portion of a fulfilling life.
Paul Tieger, co-author of the best-selling career guide, Do What You Are, advises that people pick a career based on their personality type, which nearly ensures that they'll have passion for what they do. Tieger's book helps readers to understand themselves very quickly in a way that allows them to nail down their personality type and then find many careers that cater to it. Readers can even give the system a free test drive.
What is clear form Tieger's system is that a personality is multi-faceted, and a career need only cater to the dominant aspects of one's personality in order to be fulfilling. The passion someone has that she won't get paid for is something she can do in addition to a job, and in the best scenario, each portion of a life caters to a different aspect of one's personality.
The key to making this sort of life work, though, is finding a job that leaves room for a life. Kenny, for example, will not work at a company that does not respect her yoga schedule. Leslie Cintron, assistant professor of sociology at Washington and Lee University, says that workers like Kenny are not aberrations: "We have a generation clamoring for more balance in their lives."
But this is a different sort of balance than the baby boomers aspired to. According to Cintron, "Baby boomers were talking about issues that they had to deal with when women moved into the workforce. Today one difference is that men in their 20s also are saying they want balance. They want extra space to be able to develop themselves as individuals."
Another difference is that baby boomers ask, "Can we work and have a family?" The new generations ask, "Can we work and have a life?"
For some people, "having a life" means having time for friends or developing a connected relationship. Other people might seek meaningful pursuits outside of work, such as a particular sport or extensive travel. Whatever "having a life" means to you, take solace in the fact that you don't need to get paid for it; you just need to find an employer who will give you room for your personal passions.
Be bold when it comes to getting what you need. Ask yourself what parts of your personality you need to address. Ask your employer to accommodate your non-work needs. The new generation is rife with people like you. Management advisors across the country are warning companies that if they don't make the workplace flexible they will face a shortage of willing workers.