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When my LYJ (Love Your Job) Search class starts on Monday, I will be asking participants to draft a description of their ideal job. The clarity that results from this exercise can be extremely helpful. It allows people to better articulate what they are looking for and creates a level of focus for their searches.
If you would like to try this exercise, know that you can tear it up and re-write the whole thing at any moment. Understand that nothing you’re writing is set in stone and just allow yourself to freely imagine a variety of possibilities. Include a list of 10 possible dream companies after you have written your description. This is a key part of the exercise especially as you begin to share what you’re looking for with others. Here is the assignment with a sample from an LYJ alumna to get you started:
Write a one-page proposal of your ideal work setting. Title the document, YourName’s Dream Job, Inc. This should include location, lighting, space, hours, people, boss, leadership, types of projects you get to work on, subject matter, types of activities. At the bottom, list 10 potential companies/organizations that would be a dream to work at.
SAMPLE LYJ DREAM JOB DESCRIPTION:
Write everyday. Research latest news topics and developments in my field, including news sources, medical and health journals, blogs. Analyze policy developments for their potential impact in my field. Speak about the mission and activities of my organization/company to potential investors or media.
Responsible, progressive national and state policy. Social justice. Environmental justice. Promoting health. Evaluating areas for improvement in health programming. Advancing health technology and/or access.
Work closely with one main mentor/supervisor under minimal supervision. Weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, suggestions, questions, next steps. Mentor/supervisor offers constructive criticism and praise freely and simply. Daily working environment does not include check-ins or micromanaging, but rather is a relationship of mutual trust to work simultaneously and separately in a coordinated fashion. Independence.
New York, NY. Beautiful section of the city with healthy, affordable lunch spots and nearby green space. Reasonably close to where I live / reasonable commute. Clean, open, modern building with plants, lots of natural light, and sustainable materials. Office with a door and big desk. Gym onsite!
Although in a “dream” type situation, the sky is the limit, salary for this description would be enough for me to comfortably pay back my monthly student loan payments, have a nice one-bedroom apartment, maintain my current lifestyle (buying good food, traveling occasionally, updating wardrobe, not panicking at Christmas time), investing in my retirement fund, and salary for upward mobility in my field.
About 9 to 5, give or take some flexibility. Option to work from home. Shorter summertime hours, longer winter hours. Hours may change to avoid monotony. Work days vary in intensity and tasks.
PEOPLE / COLLEAGUES
Motivated, educated colleagues with high drive and excellent interpersonal communication skills. Organized, timely people who also laugh and see the lighter side of things. People who are healthy and have active lives outside of work, but who also give their all for their positions which they believe in. Equal mix of men and women.
Team-oriented environment, with weekly team meetings but otherwise independent working environment. Culture of the organization: goal and social change oriented, forward thinking, streamlined efficiency.
WORK / LIFE BALANCE
Organization will place a high level of commitment to employees maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Generous vacation time and personal days, which can be taken without fear or feeling of reprimand.
REAL LIFE COMPANIES / ORGANIZATIONS
I WOULD WANT TO WORK FOR
World Health Organization
Lululemon Athletica (higher position or creative team)
Reproductive Health Technologies Project
Global Health Strategies
When I heard that one of my LYJ students from the fall had been offered her dream job at a renowned institute in Boston, the term “stick-with-it-ness” immediately came to mind.
At any point in the past six months she could have given up on her search, settling for the less than satisfying job she already had. Instead, she kept going with the process, trusting that with focused effort, networking, and savvy job seeking skills, the right opportunity would emerge, and it did.
I always tell the job seekers I work with that getting to the job you love starts with a decision. First, that you’re worth it, and second, not to give up. There will be the inevitable up’s and down’s, but I do believe sticking with yourself and your search is the key to ultimately getting where you want to go.
The following is a guest post by Stephanie Haladner, who has recently launched Women in Law, a global networking and consulting organisation based in London designed to help lawyers bring balance into their lives and enthusiasm into their careers.
Painting a Vision
by Stephanie Haladner
Friend and fellow woman in law Jen Bird recently directed me to her blog ‘Painting a Vision’. The title resonated with me immediately. And not just because over the last year I’ve found myself in the company of more than one painter. It’s been kind of weird. I go to a concert, I meet a painter. I’m eating eggs benedict, I’m approached by a painter. I attend a psychology conference, I sit next to a painter. I reconnect with an old friend, she reveals she’s a painter. I don’t really know why all this painter-magnetism has been happening. Psychologists might call it ‘concentrated focus’. Skeptics would call it coincidence. New-Agers (and Shakespeare) would say thinking about painters begets more painters. Creativity goddess Julia Cameron would say I’m a ‘shadow’ artist – too scared to become an artist, so gravitating to my rightful tribe. I can’t even draw a stick figure, but Julia may be on to something.
Moving past the literal, ‘Painting a Vision’ resonated with me because in addition to hanging out with painters over the last year, I’ve been busy painting a vision. When I left private practice, I left with a sense that my new career would involve helping people. During my seven years as a transactional lawyer, I’d always preferred humans to documents. So it was time to steer the career towards these humans. And when I thought about which humans to help, the answer was (as answers often are) right under my nose – women in law. Yes. I was a woman. I’d been in law. So who better to help than people just like moi!? So strong was this compulsion that I even inked ‘Will help women in law’ in my little book of visions.
How exactly I’d help I wasn’t sure. But I was sure about a few things:
1. I understood law firm culture;
2. I understood what it felt like to be a woman in law; and
3. I’d witnessed suffering (in myself and in others) at law firms - the whole culture never made much sense to me.
Not that I didn’t meet many wonderful lawyers along the way – some of my best friends are lawyers, and I happen to be a big supporter of men in law (many a partner included). It was just that I consistently felt a subtle sense of alienation in the law firm environment. Even though I worked inside the firm, I was an outsider looking in. Call me Camus.
Strangely, after leaving the law firm existence, I found myself becoming even more existential. Minor topics like the meaning of life and how we perceive the world around us consumed me. I began to gorge on books on the human condition – everything from psychology, philosophy (yes, Alain de Botton counts), weird science and, to the horror of my rational brain, spirituality. I even indulged in The Secret, a book my rational brain had previously rejected as new-New Age hokum. The notion of your thoughts creating your reality was something I’d given little thought to when my brain was stuck on law. And the concept of invisible thoughts producing visible results in the real world seemed like cherry pie in a blazing red sky.
As chance would have it, I began to encounter people (and not just painters, but other artists, quantum physicists, neuroscientists, and the occasional yogi) who hinted that there was more to thinking than one might think. Those stories are for another day. The point here is that suddenly my mind opened up to the power of painting a vision. Begin with a thought, feed that thought with supporting words and actions, and you can turn that thought into a reality. Starting with the end in mind may in fact blow your mind. Pass the cherry pie.
Within weeks of painting my vision, I got clear on how I’d help women in law. Then I started surfing the waves of the world wide web to see who else was doing what I wanted to do. That’s when I came across an organisation aptly called ‘Women in Law’. As I clicked through the site, I discovered that the founder, one Dr. Linda Spedding, was offering many of the very same services that comprised my vision. How could this be? Inspired, I e-mailed Dr. Spedding immediately. That e-mail turned into a meeting with an extraordinary woman who happened to be looking for someone to help her take Women in Law in a new direction. Thanks to Dr. Spedding and some stunning synchronicity (someone call The Police!), my imagined vision had showed up on the canvas of real life.
One thing my non-rational brain still wonders about is whether finding Women in Law after painting a vision to help women in law had anything to do with all the painter encounters. Guess I’ll never know. But what I do know is it’s evidence that if you set your intention, take action and pay attention, you get results. So a small suggestion to all the ladies in law: start painting a vision. You may surprise yourself with your capacity to create. A colourful new reality may be only a few brushstrokes away.
* Stephanie Haladner is qualified to practise law in Canada and in England and Wales. In 1996, she graduated magna cum laude from Duke University in North Carolina where she studied English literature. She received her LLB from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. See Stephanie’s complete bio and her blog post on the Women in Law site.
1. What do you love about your job?
I love my job because it is a combination of working with wonderful personalities and music in one setting. In one day I hear anything from songs by Mozart to Janis Joplin! I witness miracles every day in the field of finding your natural voice and connecting your unique sound to your heart and soul. It is a deeply touching experience to see my students beautiful transformation when it comes to opening up their voices and freedom of expression.
2. Did you always know this was the job or career path for you?
I studied voice in college and I had the opportunity to be the substitute teacher for my college professor on several occasions and I enjoyed it immensely. I got an even deeper satisfaction from teaching than performing, which really surprised me. It would take many years for me to really admit that to myself. When I work it feels very right. I am totally present in the moment feeling the beautiful flow of life and focusing on the students. It does not feel like work, it feels like life- A joyful existence!
3. What are the most important lessons you have you learned along the way?
The biggest lesson for me is realizing that even in business, like in life, there is a constant fluctuation of ebb and flow and that no matter what, you have to stick with it and keep focusing on your dream. Realizing that your own fear is not a fact and keep taking action towards your dreams will make your own doubts disappear. Our biggest enemy is usually ourself!
4. Tell us about a defining moment for you related to your work.
The defining moment for me was when I decided to branch out on my own and left the safety of a supportive music school environment. I was now on my own and had to completely rely on my self, my craft and my knowledge of business. It really was worth it taking a risk to try flying on my own! It worked!
5. What advice do you have for people looking to find work they love, in your field, or any field?
Listen to your heart! Go for it! If you don’t know what your dream is yet, look at things in your life that you love doing. Things that when you do them you are totally present to the experience and you feel blissful. Do one small thing a day to get closer to your vision. Never give up. You can accomplish anything you set your mind and heart to do. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. Prove them wrong and yourself right. I am a true believer in “Do what you love and the money will follow”. I am certain that there is a place for everyone’s unique abilities in this world. We can all flourish together!
Learn more about Katja at her website: http://www.singfromyourheart.com
I’m excited to offer my fourth class for women jobseekers beginning February 1 for five consecutive Mondays. See all of the details here. I know that 2010 holds much opportunity in store for jobseekers and I’m glad to be able to work with talented women in NYC on their searches. Please email me at lyjnow (at) gmail.com for more info and to secure a spot.
Here are a few testimonials from some of the women I’ve been so fortunate to work with:
“I’m so happy that I participated in Suzanne’s LYJ workshop. Suzanne provided the right combination of tools for personal and career exploration and concrete search methods. I really enjoyed meeting other fabulous job-seekers whose support and feedback helped revive me in my job search!” -Rosalia
“I want to thank you for your ongoing support. It truly keeps me uplifted in challenging times. I feel lucky to have met you – and actually many great people – through this search process. I certainly could not have looked at my life in March and seen all these wonderful new people and opportunities.” -Jessica
“LYJ, and getting to know Suzanne, changed the way I approached the crucial work of job-searching. Suzanne introduced to me a compassionate, thoughtful approach to job searching. The seminar made me a believer in affirmative thinking around the process, as well as equipped me with a whole new toolbox full of tools to make the best use of my time working towards my dream job. Suzanne has an amazing talent for seeing all possible connections between people: a modern guru on networking. Suzanne has maximized her natural talents to help others with LYJ, which was tremendously valuable for me.” – Summer
My good friend Dori Saltzman, a writer and editor, interviewed me about my LYJ Search classes for her blog:
Welcome to our blog! The authors of this blog spend a great deal of time thinking of ways to make our jobs, and our lives, more enjoyable. We thought we’d get a blog started to share some of our ideas and resources related to this topic. We hope you enjoy …