When you learn about the new career paradigm, you’ll see that it’s much more fluid than the old paradigm. You may have already felt this in your own experience as having a string a jobs or careers, as opposed to just picking one thing and sticking with it.

This is not a problem. But it can present some challenges. It can feel discombobulating. It can make you feel like a failure because you haven’t “figured things out” yet. It can be hard to explain to potential employers.

What you need is a way to connect the dots between the things you’ve done.

Meet the through-line. It’s sanity inducing.


1. The uniting theme(s) that connect the multiple careers throughout a career arc.

– I was an architect, web-designer, and event planner, and creating memorable experiences for people was my through-line.

Back in my actor days, I took a summer course with a master teacher on the topic of “generating new material.” Basically: creating new work from scratch. Some actors struggled to sew together smaller pieces into a larger work, fearing that the pieces had no connection to each other. The master teacher explained that if the pieces came from the same person, then there was a connection. Period. The actor’s job was to reveal the connections enough for the audience to follow along.

The same is true about career through-lines.

No matter how many different careers you’ve had, there is always a through-line, even if only apparent to you, or if not immediately apparent to you. Finding your through-line will help you feel as though there is some continuity between the seemingly disparate careers you’ve had (because there is).

Now, anchor jobs may not fit into your through-line, because those tend to be money-driven, not purpose-driven. But if you look at the meaningful careers in your career arc, you can find a through-line. Haven’t had meaningful jobs? You can always reference meaningful projects or experiences, instead.

I’ll use myself as an example. So far, I’ve had two main careers: acting and coaching. I’ve also done some teaching here and there, and that’s purpose-driven to me, so we’ll throw that into the mix. For me, what do acting, coaching, and teaching have in common? What do I give to these careers, and what do they give to me?

The through-lines for me are collaboration, community, inciting change, and being part of creating marvelous things.

When you can articulate your through-line, not only will you feel a bit relieved, but it will be easier to explain to friends, clients, or employers about your changin’ heart.

The externals of your careers may have changed, but the core, the through-line, has remained the same.

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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