Did you know?
Do you know now?
Sean Aiken, a young Canadian man and recent college graduate in 2007, didn’t know what he wanted to do for a living — so he worked 52 jobs in one year to find out.
The recent premiere of the documentary about him, shown in Vancouver, Canada, where he lives, sold out. I can see why.
I love the idea of testing out 52 jobs to find the one that might fit!
Maybe because I never doubted what I wanted to do, and knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a writer. (My dreams of being a radio disc jockey were dashed after one visit to CHUM-FM, then Toronto’s number one rock station, when I realized DJs at commercial stations don’t just play their favorite music all day.)
I grew up in a family of professional communicators — all freelance — who wrote television series, directed feature films and documentaries, wrote and edited magazine articles, so it seemed perfectly normal and logical to:
1) not have a “real” job but sit around the house and negotiate with agents and work when necessary;
2) have a ton of creative ideas all the time, knowing full well that some of them would never sell or find favor;
3) fight hard for the ideas I truly believe in and find supportive partners to pay for them, because someone will always say no — but someone will also, quite possibly say Yes!
I didn’t realize it at the time, but their behavior and experiences strongly shaped my notion of what “work” means. It includes a lot of travel, whenever possible, meeting lots of new people all the time, creating your own concepts — whether articles, films, shows or books, having the self-confidence and stamina to hang in there when times (as they certainly have) get tough. (It also means living within your means because a fantastic year can easily be followed by a leaner one and you need cash in the bank and a low overhead and no debt, all good lessons to learn.)
In 2007, I took a part-time job as a retail sales associate at a mall. Eye-opener! I was 20 to 30 years older than all my co-workers and had never had a job requiring me to stand up for five or six hours at a time, let alone deal with the public in a service role.
I stayed two years and three months — and wrote a book about it: “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” is out April 14, 2011.
In it, I talk honestly about what it felt like to go from being a newspaper reporter at the U.S.’s 6th.-largest daily to wearing a plastic badge, folding T-shirts for $11/hour. I also talk to many others about what our jobs means to our identities and sense of self-worth.
What we do at work, at its best, is who we are, not just something we do to earn a living.
I recently took an amazing test designed to ferret out our work-related motivations, administered on-line. In 15 minutes, it tactfully and succinctly forces you to face your deepest values….
Why do you work? What do most want, and enjoy, from your work emotionally?
James Sale, a British executive who created this system, is offering it FREE to anyone who emails him before February 28 and says, in their subject line, “friend of Caitlin Kelly.”
Email him at
And be prepared to learn a lot, some of it perhaps even a little painful. I did. I learned a great deal about myself and suspect you will too.
The test measures nine key indicators of what truly, even unconsciously, motivates us in our work, whether you are a Director (likes to be in charge), Defender (very attached to security), Creator (yup, me), Searcher (me, too), Spirit (that was me.) You might most powerfully wish to be a Friend, A Star or a Builder.
But if your current work is not allowing you to express your deepest self, it can feel like a straitjacket, no matter how much status, income or lifestyle it provides.
Do you love your current work?
If so, why?
How did you discover this was the right fit for you?