Design Your Life

Design Your Own Career: Part One


Part One: What’s Your Calling?

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

Convention, we nearly all assign ourselves to it on some level or another; whether it’s three square meals a day, two point four children or a standard curriculum education. However, there comes a point in the life of your average creative when they realize convention just won’t cut it for them any longer, most powerfully when it comes to their careers.

Sometimes, even though it would be easier for an individual to ignore their talent, their desires, their dreams, and opt for habitual obedience and a fixed wage, they just can’t quite swallow the dry pill that is the conventional career. Is this you? Then this series is here to help.

Whether you’ve got no idea where to start, or you’re a seasoned freelancer looking to get back to basics, ‘How to Design Your Own Career’ will take you from the very basics of figuring out just what it is you should be doing, the traits you’ll need to be successful in that career, getting qualified and making it pay. From artists to jewelery designers, writers to life coaches and more – it’s in your hands to create a self-sufficient, fulfilling and profitable career. So, how about it?

What should you be doing?

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” – Buddha

You may know that a conventional career isn’t for you, what you may not know is which creative path you’d like to take. Deciding early on is desirable, as the more work you can put in now, the sooner you’ll get there. For sure success, you’ll also want to stoke a very organic, fiery desire within yourself, aimed at a certain path.

However, the creative mind is oftentimes a confused one – there’s just too much going on in there! For that reason, it may take a little self-research to conclude just what it is that you want to make your living doing.

If you’re stuck, try this exercise:

1. Find yourself a private space where you can sit comfortably, equipped with a notepad, pen, warm drink and perhaps some motivating music playing quietly. Gather five to ten items that interest, excite or inspire you. For example: a great book you’ve read (fiction or non-fiction) a magazine clipping, a beautiful image or photograph, a piece of jewellery or clothing, a CD or DVD etc. Try to vary the items as much as possible (although this isn’t essential) and spread them out in front of you.

2. Study the items and try to note down answers to the following questions:

  • What unifies them?
  • Imagine they were the belongings of a fictional character (i.e. not yourself) what would that character be like? Could you aspire to be more like this character? What career would fulfil this character?
  • With each item individually, try to create another item from it. For example, a Jazz CD could relate to a Jazz club (real or imagined) and you can picture how the Jazz club would be decorated, perhaps with a mural or mix of antique furniture.
  • Of all the items, real and imagined, which feels most exciting or ‘hottest’ to you?

3. Leave your notes for a day or so, and then return to them in the same setting. Brainstorm careers around the ideas you generated, even if they don’t exist, even if they’re silly, even if you don’t believe for one minute that you could make a living out of them.

4. Further questions you might like to ask yourself and brainstorm from are: what do you most often think about? (Food, fashion, a certain sport etc.) What do you most often read about? (What kind of article would you stop to read in a magazine, or what book would you pick up in a library?) What is currently on your mind? (When you’ll get a chance to watch that new movie, or your next holiday etc.) Again, what feels ‘hottest’?

5. Once you have certain topics in mind that inspire you, think about how you could make a career from them. What are the different ways people have done this? Who are they? How did they do it? How could you do it differently?

What you should know is that any career, any career you can think of, is made up of a series of ‘steps’. This, low and behold, is why it is called ‘the career ladder’! All you need to do is determine what these steps are, from your current position, and start taking them.

If your creative career doesn’t exist – create it! Thanks to the internet, the world of work is changing. The middle man’s days are numbered and we are freer than ever when it comes to how we can generate income. Online business is lucrative for the individual, and can be forged from an almost innumerable amount of hobbies, skills and interests.

Many people think they need a ‘big break’, or lots of money to begin with, and this can be the case, but don’t you think that even if you just reach, say, step seven, you’re far more likely to be noticed for your hypothetical ‘big break’ than if you lounge around at step zero? Precisely.

The truth is, the career of the creative is often made up like a tapestry, weaving together several income streams, some more attractive than others. Many people take the option of what we’ll call ‘half creative’ living, where they work a part-time or even full time job, and pursue a creative career alongside it. If followed with enough ambition, this option can often lead to ‘fully creative’ living.

Only you can know which choice is right for you but, if you’re really serious about designing your own career, you need to dedicate as much time as possible and, if not, have a strict regime of how you’ll use the time that you can dedicate. We’ll look more at time-keeping, and other positive traits you’ll need to develop for successfully creating your own career, in the next part of the series.

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  • Reply michelle 12/09/2009 at 9:06 am

    I love this article, very true and very inspiring.

  • Reply Megan ♥ 12/09/2009 at 12:11 pm

    @michelle – thanks so much! you’ve settled my newbie nerves 🙂

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  • Reply Jennifer 12/11/2009 at 2:49 am

    This is a fantastic article, Megan, thank you! I’ll certainly be reading your blog.

  • Reply Megan ♥ 12/11/2009 at 4:42 am

    @Jennifer – Then I will certainly look forward to seeing you over there!

  • Reply Johanna 12/11/2009 at 10:58 am

    Hi Megan, this is a wonderful article! I have exactly this problem–having a creative impulse, having interest in many different creative areas, knowing I’m not “meant” for the typical 9-5 office work, yet NOT knowing what exactly I SHOULD be doing! It’s a relief to know there are others who feel this way and that there’s things we can do about it.

  • Reply Valentina 12/13/2009 at 5:05 am

    hi Megan, I’ve been a fan of your writing and articles for quite some time now, because surprisingly, they always seem to match with current issues in my life. I also would hate to have a 9-5 conventional carreer, and do know what creative industry I want to be in, but what stands in my way are the meagre opportunities and the lack of support from family and friends who do not believe in setting up a creative career,and hence won’t help in finances and the like.
    but your article definately helped me to refine my thinking.

  • Reply Megan ♥ 12/13/2009 at 8:17 am

    @Johanna – I hope the exercise helped you? Part two will be expanding on the same ideas so check back.

    @Valentina – Stay tuned for more in the series! I will keep your particular issues in mind as I write because I know they can be common problems.

  • Reply amberrenee 12/13/2009 at 7:44 pm

    I love this article also, as you already know! So excited you’re our career-inspiring girl. I struggled with this as a young woman on my own and it took A LOT of pushing to make my dreams happen — but I know that if I can do my passion for a living, everyone of you talented ladies can too.

  • Reply Megan ♥ 12/14/2009 at 7:50 am

    @Amber – Thaaaaaaaanks! You are definately living proof of what we can all achieve if we pursue it with enough passion. Next installment to you by the end of today.

  • Reply Luinae 12/31/2009 at 12:59 pm

    Wonderful post!

  • Reply Uni 11/21/2010 at 12:06 am

    Words cannot express how inspiring this article was. I’ve been stuck in a career rut and your words totally helped me come up with over 4 business ideas! You are truly gifted and amazing. Thank you!

  • Reply Dani 02/12/2011 at 2:18 pm

    😡 Amazing!!
    Thank you so much.. this really helped. 😥

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