Finding a Job vs. Finding Work

by Fred Uleman

Creating You & Co by William Bridges reminds me of the old adage that, “within every fat man is a thin man trying to get out.” There is a slender book in here that is well worth reading, but you will have to cut through a lot of fat to get at it. So let me give you the short version.

Stop looking for a job. Jobs are old-economy anachronisms that assume stable hours and stable pay in stable job-for-life situations. But stability itself is now illusory. Most companies survive fewer years than you will be working, so it is ridiculous to think they can provide jobs for life. So quit looking for a job.

Instead, look for work that you will enjoy and do well. Once you find that, it doesn’t really matter where you do it. In fact, you should think of yourself as a free agent—as CEO of your own company—even when you are plying your trade within a larger organization.

Yet to find that kind of work, you first need to define your DATA—your desires, abilities, temperament, and assets. What do you really want to do? What are you good at? What are you suited to? And what experiences do you have that you can draw upon? Once you have defined your DATA, you should be able to identify the kind of work that is right for you.

To help, Bridges—who has gotten over being an English teacher but has not gotten out of teacher mode—provides extensive explanations and even checksheets. That’s the part that struck me as fat. But if you are new to the idea of controlling your own future (as much as possible) instead of entrusting it to others, the fat will be good nutrition and you should buy the book. If you already think of yourself as an independent entrepreneur, you can see this book as reassurance that your approach is not as out-in-left-field as some of your hide-bound family and friends might tell you it is.