A client has approached you with the following question: how can I make a living doing what I like? Terry Neal, LCI’s Master Coach, answers…
I believe that this question will be asked of you by clients more and more over the coming years. Many people are realising and acknowledging to themselves and others that the work they do each day is not what they would choose to do.
There has been much attention lately also of an activity called ‘downshifting’, where people exchange the ‘rat race’ and doing a job that either they don’t like doing any more or which they never wanted to do in the first place for a simpler and happier life.
Whether your client has just started working within a job or career or they’ve been involved in a particular role for years, being able to do what they’d like to do and make a living from it probably seems (to them) highly unlikely at this point. As their coach I suggest that you first determine if your client is aware of two aspects about themselves, what their personal values are and if they know for sure what they’d like to do.
If values are something that they have never determined for themselves then I would begin by asking them to determine these personal values. To do this you could give them a checklist of personal values in a worksheet that they could look through and decide upon in the session, or they could take it home and work on it for next time with you.
The other aspect that they need to determine is what “they’d really like to do” looks like in reality. There are a number of possible approaches to do this if they’re unsure or say that they’ve never really thought about it or just have no idea. You could complete the “What’s My Life’s Purpose” exercise with them to draw up a life purpose statement:

Exercise – What’s My Life’s Purpose
To begin, provide your client with 6 pieces of plain paper and a few pens and then ask them to do the following: “On the first piece of paper, list as many of your positive attributes as you can. This includes abilities, skills and traits that you know to be true about you and also those which a partner, family and/or friends have said to you as well”.
Encourage your client to not limit what they put on the list; encourage them to put down as many as they can think of; encourage them to be truthful and honest about themselves.
On the second piece of paper, ask your client to write down all the ways that they express themselves in the world; all the activities that they do like painting, gardening, reading, whatever they do on a day to day basis, that’s what they write down.
On the third piece of paper ask your client to list all the ways they would like to see the world, the qualities that they would like to see the entire world express as commonly held values. Once again remind them to write down as many as they can think of, to not limit the qualities that they’d like to see in the world.
Now ask your client to look at each of the lists on each of the pieces of paper and circle the three personal qualities, expressions and world qualities that “speak” to them the strongest and deepest. This will mean that your client has 3 items indicated on each page. Remember to remind them that this is the start and that the lists can be amended at any time to reflect a more accurate sense of what’s important in their life right now.
On a sheet that you have prepared with the following words, ask your client to complete using their lists of words.
The first sentence starts with: My life’s purpose is to express and apply my… Ask your client to write in their three most important positive abilities, traits and skills.
It continues with: through… Ask your client here to write in the three best ways that you express yourself in the world.
It ends with: to bring forth in the world… Ask your client to list here those three qualities that you’d like to see expressed throughout the entire world.
The final step is to ask your client to read out their life purpose statement to hear how it sounds to them. You could then ask your client how it feels to them and if they want to make any amendments to it.

This will give them a strong indication of possible areas of involvement that’s closest to their personal values and beliefs. You could ask them to imagine or to visualise what their perfect working and earning money situation would look like. You could do this by using a miracle question. Ask them to sit comfortably and to close their eyes if they’re ok doing so. Let them know that you’re going to write down whatever they say so they won’t have to remember it all.
Once they’re comfortable and as free of distractions as they can be you could then ask your question: “Let yourself imagine that you wake up tomorrow morning and you are in the work situation that you’ve always wanted to be in. What does it look like? Where are you? Who’s around you?” Ask them to provide as much detail as possible. Keep on asking them for any more details until they stop and say that they’ve finished.
Ask them to open their eyes and to listen as you read out what you’ve written down about what they’ve said. Ask them if there’s anything that they’d like to add or change about what they’ve said and you’ve written. Remind them that this is the first draft only of their future working plan. It isn’t ‘carved in stone’.
If your client isn’t comfortable with visualisation you could suggest that they create a collage or picture of what this plan of ‘making a living doing what they ‘like’ would look like – or they could write a letter from the future to define what this idea would look like.
Now if your client knows what they’d like to do already to earn money, ask them to state it and to write it down or use whatever means your client would prefer to create a visual image of how it would look.
As a follow on from this you could ask if they are already doing this activity or some part of this activity on a regular basis e.g. if they wanted to produce art to earn money, are they painting on a regular basis now?; if they are ask them if they’re prepared to commit time to continue to do this activity on a regular basis. If they haven’t done any of this activity at all before, check that this is what they would like to do to make a living and not what they think that they should do.
Essentially there are three stages that your client needs to be ready to do for themselves to start making their vision or plan an actual reality: (1) recognition and acknowledgement of what they’d really like to do; (2) clear statements or pictures or whatever medium they choose of the activity in its fullest possible terms and finally (3) a commitment to allocating time to be involved in this activity from this point forward on a regular basis.
This will assist your client to either begin or to continue to do the activity that they would most like to do. Making a living through their preferred activity can be addressed in another session and it’s been my experience that opportunities to do this arise more easily and naturally when a person is connected to their true passion in life.