What do you do for a living?

And what does it have to do with life?

B. Lorraine Smith

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There are lots of ways to frame career decisions. As a dear friend of mine pointed out, a simple set of questions can help find your sweet spot. And… I propose adding context to understand what the world really needs. (Drawing by me.)

If you want to explore how to do work that pays you more so you can have more stuff, a bigger home, a fancier car, or more exotic vacations, I suggest you stop reading this.

If on the other hand you want to explore how to do work that contributes to healthy societies and ecosystems in which we humans and our non-human support crew known as “life on Earth” can thrive, I have a few thoughts that might be of interest.

It’s not that binary, of course. But most likely if you’re focused on the former, you are undermining the latter. I am not judging, just discerning.

Solid career advice…

I was chatting about career stuff with a dear friend the other day, someone I rarely get to have leisurely conversations with. It was such a treat! Among many themes, we swapped ideas about how we make decisions — or even ask questions — about our careers. She and I go way back to our youth and we’ve come a long way.

We’re both moving through a career pivot, and we both mentor a lot of people, so it was timely to compare notes. I love the simplicity of what she shared, and it sparked thoughts about a better response that I can give when I get asked a question that comes up a lot, a sort of: “I want to change career paths, to contribute to a more sustainable future… but to what?!”

The approach she described is to help mentees find the sweet spot where several factors converge: what they love to do, what they’re great at, and what the world needs.

In my simple rendering, green is what a person loves, yellow is what they’re great at, and purple is what the world needs. So aiming for that sweet spot seems a good bet. Right? Yes… AND.

She’s a seasoned, senior human resources professional in the corporate space, so she can draw on real experience and expertise. And these conversations are definitely serving her people well.

This is solid career advice.

… when put in context, it takes different shape

Meanwhile I’m, well, me. I think what she’s saying makes perfect sense. And… when I dig a little deeper, I notice that the third factor — what the world needs — is…

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B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact. https://www.blorrainesmith.com/