I regularly have decision-making conversations with clients about their careers. In fact, supporting my clients to understand how they can assess opportunities from an empowered perspective is one of my favourite pieces of work. It not only means that my clients often end up getting paid more money for less hours, they also become even more tuned in to themselves and their true desires which allows for a lot more honesty in their relationships with themselves and the world.
So, how do I encourage my clients to approach opportunities? I support my clients to consider opportunities that pay more than they cost. The financial pay is never the only consideration. Some pieces of work will cost you far more in terms of your time and energy than you could ever be paid in money. Here are some of the most important things to consider when you are assessing an opportunity:
This includes your physical, mental, emotional, financial, human and energetic resources:
Do you have the skills and/or experience to complete the work?
If you don’t have the skills and/or experience to complete the work, how much of a stretch would it be to gain them on the job and who would pay the price for that stretch?
Do you have the time to complete the work?
Do you have enough income to complete the work?
Do you have the headspace to complete the work?
Do you have the energy to complete the work?
Do you have the infrastructure/support in place to complete the work?
Do you have the emotional resources/resilience to complete the work?
This includes your ethics, values, self awareness and self worth.
Are you 100% clear on why you are considering doing this work? Who is offering it and why?
Do you want to do this work enough to actually do it?
Does the work fit well with your personal values/politics/ethics? Would you be happy and/or proud to publicly share that you were doing this work?
Does this work move you in a direction that is in alignment with any desired/imagined vision of the future?
Do you feel overly grateful for the opportunity, like you are lucky to be in the room?
Do you recognise that they are as lucky to have you in the room?
Is the environment (people, place, clarity and organisation of the project) healthy enough/a good enough fit for you? Is it sustainable? Will it enhance or hinder your ability to perform?
If this work is purely for material gain:
Will you be using the money for something meaningful and important?
Will you be able to sustain your commitment to completing the work?
Is the environment/are the people going to drain you or build you up?
Money is only one part of the picture
Essentially you are conducting a cost vs benefit analysis that goes way beyond numbers, because money is only ever one part of the picture.
A lot of money might not be worth a supremely stressful and emotionally draining encounter. If the energy exchange doesn’t add up, then it is not really an opportunity, it is an expensive (for you) mirage.
I have done work that paid well but drained me to my core and that affected everything and everyone in my life. I have also done work which did not feed me at a soul level, and while that maintained my home comforts, it kept me small and slow and started to make me feel hollow. We can’t all do work that lights us up every single day - and yes there will always be a price to pay for whatever we do, but comfort zones come at a surprisingly high price.
Feeling grateful can leave us open to manipulation
Another important factor to consider is how we see ourselves in relation to the person or organisation that is offering the opportunity. I work with immensely talented people, some of whom have come to their success on different timelines to their peers, from different backgrounds, via non traditional routes. These situations can leave us humans feeling an outlier, or under-qualified, or an impostor. With that comes a feeling that we should be grateful for any interest or opportunity, and that leaves us open to manipulation and at times flagrant disrespect bordering on abuse.
Just like any relationship and any system, we need to accept and understand our own unique worth as a part of the whole. If we feel deserving of respect, we will approach work, relationships and life from an entirely different perspective. When opportunities come in, rather than see them as actual opportunities, we can see them as jumping off points for co-creation. We can be creative about accepting or declining or counter-positioning whatever is on offer. We can evaluate, negotiate, and create with far more ease.
Approach opportunities with integrity - honouring yourself and others
The final thing to consider is whether you would be able to do the work to a standard you could be satisfied with and/or proud of. This is a very important question as your integrity is at stake. When we are out of integrity we lack peace. We worry what other people think of us. We have doubts, concerns, regrets, all of which are energy drains that pull us away from ourselves. Every one of us will have things we can look back on that we are not proud of, but it is compassion for our past selves that enables us to move forward. And if we can commit to selecting and realising opportunities in a way that honours us, our co-creators, humanity and our environment, the upward spiral of energy and momentum that we can generate is exponential.