Chris Guillebeau: Don’t settle or trade-off

It’s okay to give up on something that isn’t working for you, says the author


Chris Guillebeau
Chris Guillebeau

Many people really are stuck in soul-crushing jobs, with no escape route in sight. If you find yourself trapped for the foreseeable future, you have two obvious options: settle or make a trade-off,” writes Chris Guillebeau in his new book, Born For This—How To Find The Work You Were Meant To Do. If you “settle”, which many people do, you end up “disengaging from work and try to find meaning elsewhere”. In the second scenario, you do a job that supports your basic needs and offers time to do whatever you want. But what if you want a job that you truly like and also pays well? Guillebeau, an entrepreneur, guides you to do exactly that in his book.

In an email interview to Mint, Guillebeau offers insights on how to turn your passion into a paycheck. Edited excerpts:

Born For This—How To Find The Work You Were Meant To Do: By Chris Guillebeau, Macmillan, 313 pages, Rs599.
Born For This—How To Find The Work You Were Meant To Do: By Chris Guillebeau, Macmillan, 313 pages, Rs599.

What’s the ideal way to find one’s dream job?

Step one: Understand your ideal working conditions. These are very different from “the kind of work you like to do” and are just as important.

Step two: Experiment. Most successful people do not know from a young age what they want to do and then follow that path all throughout life. They go down a lot of different paths to learn what they are best at and what their unique contribution to the world will be.

Step three: Don’t be afraid to give up on something that isn’t working. “Winners never quit” is a lie. Real winners quit all the time, and then go on to something better.

Could you explain the Joy-Money-Flow Model.

Joy: What you love to do

Money: What sustains you

Flow: What you’re good at

Over time, most successful people work toward the intersection of all three of these qualities, not just one or two. Sometimes in life we have to make compromises, but the goal is to find the perfect intersection of all three.

Starting from childhood, most of us are taught to follow one career track. Is it a good idea, given that the work landscape is constantly evolving?

That advice is indeed common, but it’s also terrible. The landscape is indeed always changing. You could end up being an expert in an obsolete industry. Even worse, you may never truly discover what you were really born to do.

I understand that you don’t experiment forever, but experimentation is the only way to branch out and learn where your best skills are and what makes you come alive. There is no test that will give you these answers.

Any foolproof tactic one could use to decide on his/her career path?

Nothing is foolproof, but here’s something I learnt through my research: Improving skills is always good, but it’s very important to improve the right kinds of skills. There’s a big difference between “hard skills” and “soft skills.” Hard skills are the things you learn in university that relate to the technical aspects of your job. Soft skills are rarely taught formally, and include things like communication, negotiation, follow-up, follow-through, and so on.

Short version: Improving your soft skills is just as important as improving hard skills, perhaps even more. Chances are, someone else can always be more technically proficient than you. They can learn one more programming language or gain one more certification. But people with strong soft skills will stand out in a sea of job applicants where everyone has similar qualifications.

Many people want to break free and start their own venture, but hesitate to do so for the fear of financial risks. How can one address such issues?

First, ask yourself: What really is risky? Is it risky to believe in yourself and your own competence? Maybe it’s far more risky to entrust your security and well being to an employer who will never have your own best interests at heart.

Next, think about what kind of venture you could start right now, on the side and without quitting your day job. It doesn’t need to be incredibly complex, and it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. I have seen that when people start a “side hustle” (a means of earning money apart from your job), they feel much more confident about themselves and are able to pursue more opportunities in the future. Oh, and they also have more money—so that’s great, too.

READ MORE