By Bill Ennis
Well, we made it through 2009 (or, at least most of us did). I seem to be surrounded today by what appears to be human voices expelling a massive, communal sigh of relief. There also appears to be a limited, albeit tangible, sense of optimism about 2010. Personally, I managed to get through the year relatively unscathed, though in a rather unusual way.
I always told anyone who would listen that I loved working for non-profits (my wife sometimes believed I was one of them!). But, it was the corporate stuff that paid the bills, so I did projects for non-profits in between the "real" work. Well, 2009 was the year my dream sort of came to fruition, but with very little fanfare, and actually unbeknownst to me - until I started working on my '09 taxes. Yes, last year, the corporate stuff became my "minor" income, and my non-profit work not only kept me afloat, but gave me one of my better years financially. So, what's that got to do with you?
It's this. Because of my passion for working with non-profits, I began an exploration several years ago into what makes them tick. And I found an organization made up of non-profit professionals who met regularly to exchange ideas. So, I went to a couple of meetings, liked what I saw, and ultimately joined the group. Today, I am a Board Member of an organization made up of more than 300 staff members of Orange County non-profits, and my dedication to the group has created a level of trust that has steadily led to increased opportunities.
Many of us have developed habits of grabbing at what ever bag of potential money happens to land sort of in front of us. But everyone else sees those same bags of money dropping, so it becomes a rather tempestuous cat fight for all, with many a wound for the one standing at the end. Worse yet, today, those bags of money look more like the little play purses my six year old daughter uses in her dress up games with her friends.
You know you're good at what you do. You also know what makes you happy in relationship to the work you do. My suggestion for you in 2010 is to start planting and cultivating the seeds of your dreams. Find those clients you want to work with, or those projects you want to work on, without regard for the financial aspects of them, but rather for the fulfillment you'll receive when they ultimately drop directly in front of you - when nobody else is looking.
A word of caution - don't give up your day job! Those seeds probably won't sprout overnight, or even this year; but if you persevere and remain focused on your vision, you may find yourself in a place similar to mine - quietly, surprisingly doing what you love most, and earning a living doing it.
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Bill Ennis, MCAI-OC President
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