Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Finding Your Passion: Dream the impossible dream

Recognizing the need for change

You are not born with passion. It is cultivated by your interests, what stimulates you, and excites you. It's the thing that makes you want to get up early, jump out of bed and start working; the thing that sustains you through hours of focussed concentration; the thing that creates that "flow".

But what if there is no passion? What if nothing particularly turns you on, so to speak. Maybe you'ld like to make a change. You hate your job, or have a lot of energy and time on your hands to devote to something fun and exciting, or maybe you're totally unmotivated and just don't know which direction will take you towards something more fulfilling in life. And you're asking yourself "What will make me happy?" What will make me jump out of bed in the morning, excited to go to work? What will get my juices going? What will make me lose track of the world and time, and bury myself in my work? In other words, how can I find my "passion?"

Looking for possibilities

If you’ve got a job you dislike, or even hate, this will sound like an impossible dream. And if you never put in the effort to find what you’re passionate about, you’re probably right; such a thing will never be possible. What you need to do is dare to imagine the possibilities. Dare to actually search for what you love. You just may find that it is not only a possibility, it's a probability. So, how do I go about finding this illusive thing called passion?

Well, first of all, you need to take a moment to reflect. Ask youself: Is there something I love doing; something that keeps grabbing my attention? something I love to readabout all the time?? What do I enjoy doing so much that I'd do it for free? Now, start brainstorming Make lists, research the job markets, look on the internet. Ask around. What are others doing? Get tested. Take a career survey or see a career counselor. Find your passion. It's there

Loving what you do

You really can make a career out of what you love to do. I have always loved to write, and yet the closest I ever got to it was majoring in English, taking writing classes, and teaching writing skills to high school students. I did play around with writing poetry and even tried writing short stories. But I never got serious about it. I taught school for 25 years, got a couple of degrees, wrote master and doctoral theses, even helped colleagues write theirs. And all this time, it never dawned on me that this was my passion. Possibly because there were so many other things I liked to do: taking photos, traveling, teaching, reading, cooking, drawing, painting & graphic arts. So many areas to consider for a life's career!

But I was brought up during a time when women either went to nursing school or studied to become teachers. It never dawned on me to try writing seriously, until I became an Innkeeper. I have owned a bed and breakfast (not a passion, by the way) for fifteen years. At this point, I have everything in place, including housekeepers, gardeners and maintenance men. So, I have the time to explore writing as a possible third career.

Turning Point
I spent Christmas this year with my daughter in Austin, Texas. Her boyfriend is a marketing director. While I was there, he was building a blog; I didn't even know what a blog was. Since it involved writing, I became interested in what he was doing. Seeing this interest, he suggested that I try it myself. Well, that did it! I now have three blogs, am writing for an on-line magazine, and for Am I getting paid for this? Not much; I'd do it for nothing. In fact, all I want to do is write! I write all day long, along with constructing a new website. I found my passion! And the irony? It was there all the time.

* first in a series on finding your passion

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The greening of America and its effects on careers and the workplace

In a recent article, by another examiner, the message, although somewhat dismal at the beginning, ended up making a lot of sense. The writer, knowledgeable in the areas of green tech, appeared to be making the point that green jobs are not plentiful right now, but it might not be a bad idea to start greening up your career. There is a lot of truth to this, but I wanted to put a little different spin on it and decided to do some research on the subject.

I came across one particular organization which is, in my estimation trying to further the development of greening technology. Innovative tech has gone through a metamorphosis over the past decade. "...creating numerous forces that precipitate a new direction for venture capital strategy" (David Anthony, 21 Ventures). There are many venture companies out there, some already established and working towards the greening of America. And there are jobs available, maybe not many at this point, but we must be prepared for what's coming. And training and education is essential.

One organization that sees what's coming is 21 Century Ventures. "21 Century Ventures is a Cleantech Virtual Incubator focusing on the technology and innovations that will dominate the 21st century. Since its founding in 2003, 21Ventures has provided seed, growth and bridge capital to more than 40 companies across the globe.

The firm's expertise in Cleantech has directed investment across the spectrum of wind, solar, energy storage, efficiency and agricultural technology...Many scientists and investors agree that the most significant challenges facing mankind in the 21st Century are the ability 1) to provide renewable energy to a growing population around the world; 2) to improve the efficiency of existing energy technologies, and; 3) to remediate the damage that mankind has created that continues to devastate our fragile planet" (David Anthony, managing director, 21 Century Ventures).

21 Century Ventures lists and describes entrepreneurial pursuits of companies working and developing technologies in the areas of wind, storage, agriculture, solar, water, efficiency, and other power and energy sources. Below is an example of what one company is doing in the area of Solar Energy


Solar Roofing Tiles

Led by a team of world-class building materials designers and electrical engineers, Applied Solar has developed a comprehensive portfolio of building-integrated photo-voltaic solutions for commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential applications. The BIPV products are versatile and scalable, ensuring that each system meets the specific requirements of the project. Our sales are backed by outstanding installation, service, and product warranties (image and information courtesy of Applied Solar).

Those persons who will be installing, servicing and selling this type of solar technology will have to be trained. And sooner than you might think, there will be a plethora of jobs available. My daughter and her husband just added almost 1000 sq feet to their home and the whole area ( on the top floor now) utilizes solar energy. They are not wealthy and yet they could afford to do this; as will many more Americans when they realize that this is good for the environment and that it is the wave of the future. Only it's no longer in the future, it's happening now. And as the demand for more materials, installation and experts and workers rises, so will the available jobs and career options rise.

There may not be that many "green" jobs available now, but our world is moving at breakneck speed and those who want to stay alive and well in it better keep up with it, by learning new skills and considering new options for careers and work which fit with the direction the world is headed. Going green is huge!

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Recognizing women's small business month

In recognition of Women's Small Business month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced yesterday afternoon, in Washington, that it has launched a new cooperative Strategic Alliance. Partnering with Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence (CMI), the alliance will promote opportunities for women entrepreneurs through education, training and counseling to promote economic independence and the growth of women owned businesses.

Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education and community support for women entrepreneurs seeking to grow micro businesses to million dollar enterprises. The alliance between the two organizations will further common goals which encourage more women to become entrepreneurs and provide them with the proper skills and tools needed to succeed as business owners.

Speakers at the event included Administrator Mills and Nell Merlino, president and CEO of Count Me In. They addressed an audience of small business owners, local business women and SBA employees, and recognized oovoo design, a woman-owned small business that has thrived during the challenging economy.

SBA and CMI are committed to supporting women-owned small businesses by developing opportunities, resources, and information needed to expand businesses and increase revenues . The two organizations are in the process of "...developing a joint podcast on business start-up and financing and a web chat on small business issues affecting women entrepreneurs" (Mary L Landrieu, D-La, Chair, United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship)
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