We can experience a lot of confusion when we cannot distinguish between what we absolutely need and want (career non-negotiables) vs. what we think we should want.
In my experience working with career changers, most people have 3-5 non-negotiables when it comes to work: in other words, there are only a few things we absolutely need to be happy in our business or career. And everything else is - by definition - negotiable.
Knowing the difference is crucial to doing work you love.
We often make long lists of what we want, and a lot of it confuses nice-to-haves with what is truly important and meaningful to us.
Compromise on your career non-negotiables and prepare to be unhappy!
Photo by Iwona Castiello d'Antonio on Unsplash
For example, many people will start their list with a high salary, but not everyone is actually motivated by high pay. Some people need freedom, and prefer it to come with a high salary. This is a crucial distinction.
If you recognize yourself in this description, you never want to compromise on your freedom. And yes, you can play the game of finding freedom and a high salary; but if you confuse a need (career non-negotiable) with a preference, you risk mistaking priorities. This is how many end up in lucrative careers, but unhappy.
If you instead understand what truly matters to you, you can align your actions with achieving your career non-negotiables in the best way, and you are much more likely to succeed. In the example I just mentioned, you would only consider possible careers, jobs, or business approaches that would give you the freedom you need. Then - within that pool - you would choose what would also pay you really well.
Another and opposite example is the person who does feel money is super important, but believes she shouldn't prioritize it. She thinks that she should want to make a difference, or help others, etc. But truly, her need and career non-negotiable is a certain amount of money - yes, even a really high amount! That's what she truly wants.
If she continues to pursue what she thinks she should want, instead of prioritizing what she truly needs and desires, she will end up endlessly frustrated.
In this case too, focusing first on the true career non-negotiable would give our imaginary career changer a pool of ideas to choose from - and then from those options that come with a high pay, she could choose something that also makes a difference - assuming that's even an authentic preference, and not something she feel she has to do.
Distinguishing between what you truly need, want, and think you should have is fundamental. You will find a lot of power and freedom in this clarity.
And the more you focus on getting your career non-negotiables, let go of what you think you should go after but really do not care about, and are open to playing with all the possible nice-to-haves, the better a time you will have changing careers. Or looking for a job. Or growing your business.
And the more you will enjoy the results as well.
PS: I have yet to meet a career changer who doesn't at some level doubt that they can make money and do what they want. This is a made-up dichotomy, there is no inherent conflict between doing what you love and making money.
*Every Wednesday I sent out a "weekly Wisdom email" to all my email subscribers. This blog post about career non-negotiables is an email I recently shared. You can sign up for my mailing list here.