You’ve heard the phrase, “Do what you love, the money will follow.” I’m certainly a fan of this premise (also the title of a book by Marsha Sinetar). However, in my very first month of coaching real clients more than 10 years ago, I recall thinking- “Boy, if taken too naively, this could lead to disaster or be cruel. What if you love 17th century poetry?” I don’t want to be a wet blanket on anyone’s passions, but you might not be able to feed your cats with this. (The relentless optimist in me is screaming, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. He could be a college professor or something!” but you get my point.)
To serve my clients well, I was compelled to develop a grounded, four-point model for fulfillment and true prosperity.
The four basic questions:
1) What do you Love?
2) What are your Gifts?
3) What does the World Need?
4) What are others willing to pay for?
The core question becomes, “How do I create work in today’s market that allows me to tap into my passions and share my gifts in a way that serves a need and generates income?” In essence, this is about your true work in the world. In some cases your true work (or passionate vocation) may not be the means to paying your mortgage. Your passions and gifts may express as volunteer endeavors or as part of a work-life portfolio.
I have asked people “What would you love to do?” in various ways a gazillion times by now. When listening to their responses it’s important to highlight the distinction between what may entertain and amuse the ego and what would engage and arouse one’s true spirit. As you explore livelihood possibilities, ask yourself what you are sincerely feeding– ego or spirit? Over the years, this has evolved into “The Passion Matrix, fully loaded” with Values, Purpose, Fulfillment Factors and Environmental Trends in the mix. For this article, let’s stick with the four basic quadrants. On your own paper (or screen), draw a vertical line and horizontal line to create four quadrants and label them as follows:
This is not brand new information, right? The magic happens in part because of the order in which you ask and answer these four questions. Cultural norms tempt us to start in the fourth corner- what we’ve always been paid to do, what opportunities exist already and so on.
I’ve seen clients at all levels of management and income still gravitates to that lower right box, including a CEO fundamentally asking, “What company out there needs a new senior executive?” This ingrained pattern is backwards.
You really want to start in the upper left quadrant with “What are my passions?” Playing with this process can open up possibilities you had not considered and give you a launching pad infused with your natural enthusiasm and strengths. Even if statistics indicate that your passion isn’t popular, when your heart is in something, you are more likely to flourish, including putting in the extra effort to make it pay off financially. I must say that this is more about true prosperity than dollars. At this stage of exploring right livelihood scenarios, don’t let money be the tail that wags the dog.
I am one example of someone who makes less money (than what I’d probably earn if I had stayed in my former work,) yet I am enjoying a much richer life. Of course, you get to choose what matters, what prosperity is for you and how the math works out. In real life, it’s not easy to answer questions like “What are your passions?” So, cut yourself some slack here. I continue to develop various “back door” questions and games to help clients with this discovery process and livelihood possibilities. The four quadrants come in handy for energizing strategic planning for your business or team (e.g. starting with what are we truly passionate about?) getting ready for compelling presentations and so on.
For now I hope this model plants some seeds for you to discover and expand your soul satisfying options for engaging in the world. Yes can pay attention to your callings and pay your bills.
Named one of 50 top coaches in America, Marian Baker is a master certified coach, author and speaker. Her book, “Wake up Inspired – Fuel Healthier Success and Love the Life You’re Meant to Lead” has earned 5-star reviews, Book of the Year (Foreword) and Independent Publisher Awards. She’s coached and led workshops with hundreds of clients from business and personal growth communities since 1996. Marian has been featured on ABC-TV, Ladies Home Journal, Health Magazine and other media. She loves this work and falls asleep grateful in Chicago. For more resources, and discussion about healthy, meaningful success, including a Free Starter Kit: “7 Keys for Healthier Success and Loving Your Life,” visit WakeUpInspired.com
By Marian Baker