Speech presented at 2.23.2015, MinneapolisToastmasters Club 75
Recently, I have been reading a book named zen and the art of making a living. It’s a guidance book for people who want to design a creative career path in their lives. Many people would sniff at this kind of book and think it is just useless chicken soup for someone who is an impractical idealist. They believe young people should only focus on the work or job they are doing rather than designing an “unrealistic” work path. However, I disagree with this so-called realistic and practical suggestion. My main purpose of this speech is to identify at least three reasons why design and try a creative career is important for us, no matter you are 19 years old or 80 years old.
First of all, developing a creative career will lead to both the happiness and success. Because trying and developing a creative career play an extremely important role on the development of a person’s positive mental state- flow. In the state of flow, a person performs an activity which is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Researchers have found that enhancing the time spent in flow makes our lives more happy and successful while more stable job characteristics are not found to predict flow at work. Actually, nowadays many people have a decent job position, earn a high income but get no personal satisfaction from it at all. Why? Because there is few chance to get to the state of flow in a stable, routine and boring work. Therefore, creating a workplace atmosphere that allows for flow and growth can increase the happiness and achievement of people. And creative work path and atmosphere should be cultivated and emphasized in order to help people experience flow on the job.
Second, finding your creative career path is an important way to find your true self. Traditionally, salary, benefits, recognition, status, long-term security are defined as a successful career. However, this is a narrow conception. There is a desire for a broader conception of work-one that would reflect the spiritual as well as the material life of human beings. We could see work as the unique creative expression of the individual. Being true to yourself in the work life, sharing your unique gifts through your work to the world, is what counts for people in the end. So we must try our best to embrace our own trajectory which comes from our true passion and purpose. Nowadays, many young people who have a dream in their heart have begun to pursue it in a creative way. I watched a dancing show in this winter break. I was very impressed by a 30-year-old Disney dancer. He worked as a dancer in the float parade in Hong Kong Disney for four years. He said he couldn’t see his passion in the parade; he see his true self in the bigger stage. So he gave up his Disney job and joined in the dancers competition. I can see his smile comes from his deep heart in the dancing stage. We should believe it’s possible for us to create a life where what we do matches what we are at the deepest levels.
Last but not least, designing a creative career in keeping with our deep and true self is not unrealistic, it is doable and viable. You might not be able to know what you life work is at first; and you might have spent year after year working at something that isn’t really you. But don’t worry, relax yourself, kick off this journey. It can’t be reached in one day. Take one step at a time. There are mainly three steps to help you transfer our inner motivations to viable work. First, you should choose a career vehicle that allows you to be and express yourself, and then you should try to develop suitable marketing strategies and get people help you do what you want to do. Moreover, depending on your current circumstances and goals, additional knowledge and skills may be required, therefore you should plan on your growth and development. Take myself for example, after reading the work zen book, I have started to plan my own creative career path. I have been thinking of developing a multiple creative career myself for a couple years. I have come up with more details about my career recently. My long-term goal is to be an independent researcher and a career/life consultant; I would love to work in a freelance way. This is my career vehicle. What I can do now for marketing myself is to know more researchers or consultants in my field. Therefore, I have attended international conferences, university organizations as social events to know more people in my field and to practice my speaking and social skills. I also have constructed my personal website to create a channel for people who wants to know me. I also need more knowledge in researching and consulting, that’s why I am pursuing my Phd in the United States. These are all what I can do now for creating my multiple career path in the future. I believe my long-term creative career goal will be achieved if I have made my full efforts to every and each step I can complete at the present moment.
Therefore, it’s important, necessary and feasible to design a creative career for ourselves in our life time. It’s never too late to think about and take actions on developing your unique and creative career path, no matter you are 19 or 90!