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Three Home Career Selection Traps to Avoid

Don't fall prey to the most common traps of aspiring Entrepreneurial Parents. Ask the "Right Question" from the start -- and don't give up until you answer it!

© 1997, by Paul and Sarah Edwards

Most of us have never really taken the option of finding our "perfect" work seriously. When we say we'd like to live life on our own terms, be our own boss, it's almost like saying we want to win the lottery. Of course we want it, but we don't think it will actually happen, so why should we take the time and energy to decide what we really want. We probably won't achieve it anyway.

Most of us have led lives that revolved around our jobs or school or family demands, squeezing everything else we want to do into "after working hours and weekends." And even in our free time, we may not get around to doing the things we'd really like to do because either we have to catch up on pressing odds and ends or we're just so worn out that we need a chance to sleep in, goof off, or live it up. Most people these days feel there just isn't enough time for many of the things they'd like to do, sometimes even the most important ones.

As a result, when you set out to create a more independent life, you risk making one of three common mistakes many people make in their search for what kind of work to do: instead of finding and enjoying your perfect work, you could end up stuck in a rut, getting burned by buying into some hot opportunity, or simply drawing a blank when it comes to how to proceed. As a result you could conclude that independence is not for you.

Ending Up Stuck In A Rut

If you don't know for sure just what you want to do or what else you could do, you might set out to simply duplicate the life you have now. You might automatically decide to basically do on your own what you've been doing, living in the same place, keeping the same hours, working with the same kind of clients, only to end up wondering why your new life isn't any better. "If it's not going to be any better than this," one woman told us, "why should I go to all this trouble? Why shouldn't I just get another job?" And that's a very good question. If the life you create for yourself is just as stressful, pressure filled, financially tight, dull or boring as the one you had when you were working for someone else, why go to all the extra trouble of starting a new one?

Getting Burned By What's Hot

Or again, not knowing just what you want to do, like many others who are trying to create a life on their own, you might be tempted to look for whatever's hot and do that. One woman told us, "In the seventies I became a marriage and family counselor. That was the 'in' thing. It took me several years to get my license, but when I opened my practice it wasn't that easy to get clients. By then real estate was really hot, though. Friends of mine were making a lot of money doing that, so I decided to get my real estate license. Now the bottom has fallen out of the housing market, so I'm trying a medical billing service. It's supposed to be really good, but it's not very interesting to me and it's getting harder to get business. What do you think about 900 numbers? I hear they're hot." This woman is a classic case of chasing after what's hot. Unfortunately whenever you're chasing something, you end up at the rear and you never get a chance to go where you want to go.

Drawing A Blank

Or again, not knowing just what to do, like many others, you may simply draw a blank when it comes to thinking out what you could do to create an independent living for yourself. You may not believe there's anything you can do well enough to make a living on your own. Drawing such a blank can stop you in your tracks or it can lead you back into a rut or chasing after what's hot. In fact, drawing a stubborn blank about what you could do can be so frustrating that like many people, you get hyped into buying a multilevel marketing program or a business opportunity of some kind only to discover that your spur-of-the-moment decision isn't really what you're looking for. When the "great" opportunity doesn't "take off," and most opportunities don't "take off" without some considerable effort, the search begins again for another way to make some money.

Actually the people who succeed in programs like those, or any independent venture, usually do so not because they've found something "hot" that "takes off." They succeed because they had some idea of what they were looking for. They knew where they wanted to go. In other words, they had a destination in mind. They knew what they wanted to accomplish and believed they could achieve it. As a result, they started out asking the right question -- "What Do I Really Want to Do?"

In today's economy and with today's technology, if you can define what you truly want and work consistently for it, the odds have shifted in favor of your getting it.

The above article is excerpted from Finding Your Perfect Work by Paul and Sarah Edwards (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1996). Paul & Sarah are our "Home Career Selection Experts."

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