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Career Coach: Graduate to a Good Life

This month the Career Coach passes on some fatherly advice.

June brings graduation and Father's Day, a time when we reflect on the advice of teachers and fathers. I learned a lot from my dad and my father-in-law.

My father, Paul Kleibrink, found his passion in 1952, when he discovered computers. This passion was so all-consuming that he couldn't help but share it with those around him. I remember he enthusiastically explained the binary system to me when I was seven. That's great dad, I thought, but what I really want to know is what is 9 + 6?

My father retired from IBM after 40 years, but he is still passionate about computers. Now he teaches other seniors how to use computers. If he wanted to, he could charge for it, but he does it for free, because he loves it.

Before I graduated college, my father gave me the best career advice of all "It's your life. Live it how you want to live it, not how you think others want you to. Do what excites you the most."

Recently I spoke to a group of high school seniors and gave them the advice my father gave me decades ago Do what you love. Choose something that gets you revved up and don't worry about whether you can make money at it or not. What would you do even if you weren't paid for it? That's what you should do, whatever that is. Don't choose a job simply because you think you can make lots of money at it.

If you choose to work at something that you truly love, you will be more excited about Monday mornings than the weekends. It's your life to live, so pursue your dreams and work hard to make them real. When you love what you do, you will be successful. You will be able to make a living at it. You won't have to dream about things to acquire, about getting away from work on the weekend, or summer vacations, because you will be living the life you want, every day.

Many people think they can't make money doing what they love doing. Or they think if they make money doing something they love, they will no longer enjoy it. So they put off doing what they love to the weekends or maybe they'll do it after they retire. Instead they pursue something that they think will be financially rewarding. They aren't happy at work or satisfied with their lives. They wonder why they dread going to work.

If you dread going to work on Monday, you may have the wrong job. Figure out why it's not right for you and change your life. Don't be afraid to pursue your dreams. Find someone who has a job he/she loves and learn from him/her.

My father-in-law, Rex Thompson, believed that you can do anything if you work hard at it. Working hard at it includes learning what you need to know, as well as whom you need to know. My father-in-law was a master at networking he talked to everybody. And he listened. He was a master salesperson because he was a natural. He claimed that he would prefer to be alone, but he found himself often surrounded by people because they liked to be around him. After work, he coached a girls softball team. He taught them teamwork and encouraged them to always do their best. He believed in them. He believed in me. He always advised me to stretch and grow. He encouraged me to take chances. If my employer didn't give me the chance to learn, move on. Don't be afraid to make a change.

My father-in-law's business card didn't have a title on it just his name, Rex Thompson, and what he did, "Everything." What he didn't know, he was ready to learn. Rex died on March 10, 2003, and everyone who knew him had a story about him. He encouraged everyone who needed encouragement (which is everyone!) to pursue their dreams.

I hope this fatherly advice helps you graduate from a job you tolerate to life's work that will inspire you every day.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a career coach, recruiter and hiring strategist who helps clients to achieve their dreams in their personal and professional lives.