Author Nancy Anderson: How to Find Your Right Niche in Work

The following is an article contributed to The Weekly Book Scan by career coach Nancy Anderson. Anderson is the author of the new book Work With Passion in Midlife and Beyond (New World Library, 2010). Buy the Book >

By Nancy Anderson

bkblg_midlifecoverJoanna was an administrator in a public health agency when she came to me for help with her career. She had two graduate degrees, a large income, and a prestigious title. But endless meetings and the time it took to implement her ideas drove her crazy. To cope with her frustration, she overate and drank too much alcohol.

When I asked Joanna what she did when she was not working, she said she got up early on weekends to organize her house and garage. She loved organizing so much her neighbors asked her to get their homes and garages in order.

“Why don’t you do that for a living?” I asked.

“What, clean houses and garages?” Joanna asked. “My doctor father would have a fit if he thought I was going into such a lowly business. Don’t forget he paid for my two graduate degrees in health administration.”

Here you have an example of how the fear of criticism stops creativity in its tracks.

“Your customers could include home owners who want to show their houses in the best light when they sell them, or you could work for banks or other institutions,” I said. “Talk to people who provide these services, and see how you feel.”

Joanna was excited after meeting an older man in her area who wanted to sell his cleaning business. As part of the buy-out deal, he would stay on until Joanna learned the tricks of the trade. In the meantime, Joanna worked part-time at her old job to keep cash coming in.

Two years later, Joanna had transformed the business so that it reflected her love of beautiful, organized spaces. Cleaning remained the cash cow, but staging homes was her passion, as was being in control of her destiny. And now that she was making a profit, her father bragged to everyone about “my daughter the entrepreneur.”

Not surprisingly, after enough customers said they wished she could represent them when they sold their houses, Joanna got her broker’s license, showing that finding the right niche is a process.

To create your perfect niche, begin by eliminating unhealthy habits. Exercise, eat and drink moderately, and get plenty of sleep.

Then take the small steps that lead to success in any endeavor.

  • Notice what you do well even when others don’t pay you.
  • Take action in spite of your fear of criticism.
  • Find an expert who can show you what you need to do to excel.
  • Live beneath your means so that you do not have to make decisions based on the need for money.
  • Use your creativity to transform your work into an expression of your values.
  • Work with clients who are open to hearing what they need (need, not want).

Like Joanna, when you use your natural strengths to help clients reach their goals, you can’t help but succeed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy Anderson is an innovative career and life consultant and the author of the best-selling career guide, Work with Passion. Her new book, Work with Passion in Midlife and Beyond can be pre-ordered from Visit Anderson’s Web site:

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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