Replacing the Anxiety of Career Seeking With The Joy of Career Building

When I meet my career counseling clients today, I realize that they see a man who loves his work.  More than a few have expressed envy at the obvious joy I have in my work.  ”I wish I could feel that way,” a recent client said as he conveyed his dread at heading back to his office. “I just feel anxious all the time, wondering what I am going to do for my career.”

I remember that feeling. I started my career as an attorney.  I liked my work in the public sector where I was doing good.  I did not like my work in the private sector where I was doing little good.  

Even while I was in the public sector, I knew the law was not a fit.  When I was a criminal prosecutor in Philadelphia, I had a distinct voice in my head say: “I’m meant to be building people, not breaking them down.”  I note that I was in the midst of reviewing an appellate file on a guy who had murdered several people during an armed robbery.  The evidence was overwhelming.  In other words, I was not having any qualms about whether I was engaged in justice but rather thought that I should do something else.

Those thoughts grew into mild anxiety about my career path as I worked as an enforcement attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, DC.  Again, I had no problem seeking justice against white collar criminals. But, I knew this was not my calling. 

And, when I went into private sector, my anxiety about what I wanted to do grew so much that I wondered if my normally perpetual cheerfulness was vanishing for good. 

When I committed myself to becoming an education-entrepreneur, my career seeking anxiety disappeared.  Sure, I still had flashes of anxiety about building a business, money, and all that comes with entrepreneurship but I also had a great deal of joy related to building my career.

When I began career counseling, I realized that I was almost messianic in my zeal to get others to find a career they love.  I wanted everyone to escape the anxiety and experience joy.  ”It doesn’t have to be that way.” I would tell clients.  You don’t have to be anxious about your career.  You can be joyfully building it instead.

I’ve tempered my unbridled enthusiasm a bit as I realize that “I know” it can be done because I did it. My career counseling clients don’t really know because they are still seeking.