Dear Paulo, I have a mental dilemma that I could use some help or guidance in understanding. I am a business coach who loves what he does. I have put a lot of time, money and focus on being a business coach and have many years of experience being in business.
Currently I’m not making enough income to sustain myself and family through coaching and have been offered a sales position that is unrelated, but which I know I will be good at, and which will produce the income necessary to sustain our lives. My “dilemma” is that I would prefer to be a coach yet do not have the income to sustain that and have a fear that I’d be giving up on my dream by taking this position. I will do the right thing for the sake of my family yet cannot get over the sense that my dream will be on hold.
– Jacob, Tiburon CA
Jacob, your vision has a lot to do with what it looks like to be a “business coach” in your mind’s eye. Instead, try focusing on the essence of what you love about coaching, not the image of yourself doing it. I suspect the essence of your desire has to do with helping others. If so, remember that you can be a helpful “coach” in any situation or job – especially sales, where presumably you are providing a good solution for the right people who may need help to understand its value for them.
If you take this attitude, you will not lose out on anything. Your needs are always being met, even if the universe insists on a form that better supports your family right now. Focus on the essence of what you want, not the form. Don’t try to control your destiny. Remember the old expression: “You pedal, It steers.” In this case you can have it all. So, get pedaling and make some money … and congratulations on finding a job!
Recently, I interviewed the author of a new book everyone in America should read as soon as possible. Titled Plenitude — The New Economics of True Wealth, this book by Boston College sociology professor Juliet Schor is a positive and practical treatment on how we can re-orient our values away from a monetary-based way of thinking (and the “poverty consciousness” that comes with it). You can listen to the interview here.
First, the author shows how “business as usual” (which she refers to as “BAU”) is coming to an end, whether we like it or not. There is just no way that five percent of the world’s population will be allowed to consume 25 percent of the remaining oil, for instance — no matter how oversized its military may be.
Because of America’s careless indebtedness for consumption (and war), the developing world (where almost all of the oil is) is gaining relative power. Plus, two billion Chinese and Indians want to be over-consumers like us. Even if we reduce our own consumption (fat chance), the overall consumption is bound to grow with BUA. This is a huge problem because the planet cannot sustain higher levels of over-consumption, not to mention possibly violent competition for energy resources!
What can we do? What can YOU do? Schor’s book provides some new and surprising answers. In addition to letting go of BUA thinking — i.e. in which only things that are measured in dollars are considered valuable – the author encourages us to recognize our “true wealth” — things like the value of time, knowledge, community, creativity and nature. She is advocating for a radical change of orientation that includes less full-time “work” and more of a balanced life, based on real enrichment not consumption.
Dear Paulo, I’m one of the large number of people here in the city who lost an executive job several months ago. At age 55 this is the first time in my life I have ever been fired for anything. I haven’t found other work since, and have been turned down for things for which I was highly qualified. Even an unpaid internship! Do you have any insights into a situation like this? Thank you.
– Judi from Manhattan
Judi: I have much empathy for your jarringly painful situation, and some insights (you’re in such a difficult transition, I hope you can receive them). Most economists agree that we are in for a relatively long period of high unemployment. This could mean a big adjustment to someone who loses a job before you are financially ready for retirement, during a time when your entire industry segment may be shrinking. In any case, no matter what the situation, it only ever makes sense to focus on the things you can change. The larger economy is not one of those.
The only operative question is what you can change. Well, this is certainly an opportunity to change your identification with the past, with what you’ve done, or even the reasons you were doing it. You are not your job … and you are most emphatically not the jobs you’ve had in the past. Your dreams and desires can also be under your control and, although it may not be easy to let go of habitual patterns, they are subject to change too. It may be time to let go of what you thought you wanted, possibly including location and lifestyle.
Those of us who live in the first world are going to have to start consuming less, because our planet cannot support our deficit consumption. In her new book, “Plenitude — the New Economics of True Wealth” (a great book), professor Juliet Schor points out that “business as usual” is coming to an end, and how we need to better leverage our “true wealth” which lies in the value of our time, relationships, knowledge, creativity, community and nature. Look at what your beliefs and values have been up to now, and be willing to change them. Look at what you have identified with, and change that too. If you can let go of the past and find new sources of strengths within you, trust that you will find an opening for something new and surprising!