My answer to the question raised in the title is simple but not easy. It is to work at your own point of “intersection.”
To get a visual of what I’m talking about, check out the photos on the wall of the Mark Strong Coaching Facebook page. Two images on the wall show interlocking circles, which give two different examples of the same idea. The idea is that what you should do with your life can be found at the intersection of a few key concepts.
Depending on your values, you might feel more closely aligned with one of these “intersection” images than the other. Let’s start with the simpler of the two images, and see if this resonates for you:
What are some things you should do?
I posed this question on the Mark Strong Coaching Facebook page in December. Take a look at the three red interlocking circles on the MSC wall. They suggest that the best things for you to do will be clear when you discover what’s at the intersection of:
Things you like to do
Things you do especially well
Things you can do that also help society
This version of “the intersection” may appeal to you if you place a high importance on seeing the outcome of your work reflected in the world around you. This approach takes your preferences and talents into account, as well as the greater good. It does not take financial compensation into account, reflecting the idea that if you “do what you love, the money will follow.”
How to win.
The above version of circles takes a global focus into account. The other version of circles on the MSC wall (which is a series of yellow interlocking circles) takes more of a financial focus. It’s not for us to judge which approach is superior. Instead, think through which approach is right for you at this time in your life. It may change over time.
Money is almost always an important component of our financial decisions, and rightly so. Without appropriate compensation, we may find ourselves doing something we’re good at doing and perhaps even something we love to do as well but be unable to financially support ourselves.
When I posted this version of circles on the MSC wall in December, I captioned it, “How to win.” To get to the win, consider what you love and what you are good at, just as in the example of the red circles above. But for this version, you must also consider what kind of work pays well as part of your equation.
This version of “the intersection” exercise includes an additional layer. It makes the point that if you only combine two of the three considerations, you won’t end up in the center of the circles with a “win.” Here are examples of bad combos:
If you only consider what you’re good at and what you love, and fail to consider the financial aspect, you may feel satisfied with your work, but end up struggling to make ends meet If you consider only what you do well and what pays well, but neglect to consider passion for your profession, then you may end up financially strong, but unfulfilled If you decide do something you love that also pays well, but you don’t have a strong enough skill set to really excel in that kind of work, then your dream job may quickly become a nightmare Use these intersection exercises to help you discover what’s at the center of your circles in the New Year.