Practical analysis for investment professionals
24 February 2015

The Work You Love

“What is the work that you can’t not do?” This is the question Scott Dinsmore, founder of Live Your Legend, leaves his audience with as he concludes his TEDx talk, “How to Find and Do Work You Love.” It’s a great question, isn’t it?

Dinsmore’s talk speaks to a sentiment that is constant in career management advice. Have passion for your work or find work for which you can have passion. Several of the interviews in Career Success: Navigating the New Work Environment and a number of talks I have conducted with members who have had success in their careers come back to this point. For professionals in finance, as well as other demanding fields, the majority of non-sleeping hours are dedicated to work, often at the expense of time with family and friends. While a fair compensation package can make some of that sacrifice feel worthwhile, passion for what you’re doing has the effect of lessening that sense of sacrifice.

In his talk, Dinsmore outlines three steps to finding and doing the work you love. They are:

  • Become a self-expert.
  • Do your impossible.
  • Surround yourself with passionate people.

Becoming a self-expert entails identifying, examining, and contextualizing your unique strengths, values, and experiences. It sounds simple, but in fact often requires a great deal of work and possibly a fair amount of time. It is, however, the cornerstone of managing your career.

Confidence compounds, as Dinsmore explains in his talk. By frequently doing little things that you have tended to think of as being impossible for yourself, you come to realize — and then reinforce the idea — that there are fewer limits to your potential. But it’s not only that you have more confidence in yourself, you begin to appreciate that there are simply fewer barriers to what can be achieved.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This quote, which Dinsmore attributes to personal development author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn, sums up his final step to discovering the work you love. Surrounding yourself with passionate people who are inspired by the work they do and/or do the work you want to do has obvious practical advantages. To be clear, this is very different from advising you to spend time with positive people who offer you unconditional support in your endeavors. In fact, people who will push you, challenge you — even criticize you — are important to have in your circle.

Dinsmore warns that for some, perhaps even many, asking this question and deeply committing to answering it will inevitably lead to a change of direction career-wise. This is where the “find your passion” sentiment usually runs up against naysayers. If you are an investment professional bringing in a six-figure salary, it may be simply too absurd to think of trading it all in to pursue a passion for mystery writing, or photography, or training for the Olympics in a sport you’ve never competed in. That’s a completely fair position to take, but . . .

  1. Some people do just that. For example, Kevin Jagger left an investment banking career for long track speed skating and shares more about that in his TEDx talk, “The Passion of the Pursuit.”
  2. Many people may find that their passion does not require quite so radical a departure from their current career path, but rather just a bit of redirection.
  3. Most people are capable of pursuing an inspired career redirection in a planned and pragmatic way that does not necessitate a complete overhaul of their life.

In any case, whether the answer to the question, “What is the work you can’t not do?” might represent a 5-degree shift in career direction or a 90-degree change, it’s no reason to avoid asking yourself the question altogether. So, what’s the work you can’t not do?

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Image credit: © Li

About the Author(s)
Julia VanDeren

Julia VanDeren, manager, career services at CFA Institute, serves as the subject matter expert in career management skills, curating and developing career resources for members and program candidates. Previously, she served CFA Institute as career services representative, managing the CFA Institute JobLine (now Career Center) and Career Centre (now Career Tools) resources. VanDeren holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MPA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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