Dr. Chaz Austin

BEYOND RECOVERY maintain a successful recovery, it’s vital that addicts in rehab plan – and create a structure – for a meaningful future in the workforce that ties in with their skills and talents. This article will explain how that’s done.

Having fulfilling work is an important part of one’s recovery. A successful career choice allows us to express our passions – and is monetizeable (in other words, you can make a living at something you love to do).

Working for one company for decades and then retiring with a pension, as past generations did, is history. Corporate loyalty is gone, replaced by a freelance marketplace in which everyone is always hustling for the next project or the next client. Today, when creating a career in any field, you want to find as many ways as you can to generate income.

For example, let’s say you love to play the guitar. It’s what makes you happiest. If we broaden “guitar player” to “musician,” that creates more potential opportunities. Now picture a wagon wheel. The hub is your core brand or skill set. The spokes extending from the hub are the various ways you can derive income from your talents. So as a musician, you can make money as a: studio musician, touring musician, teacher (private lessons, clinics, K-12, after school programs, high school and college teaching), producer, audio engineer, arranger, manager of other artists, mixer, songwriter, booking agent, product endorsements, etc. I call this The Multiple Income Streams Approach to sharing you talents with the world.

If you can’t find a way to earn a living with your passion, then what you love may just be a hobby.

The Paradox
You’re taking care of yourself by connecting with your passion in life and finding a way to monetize it – in order to be of service to others. You will want to shift your orientation to using your gifts as a contribution, so your self-marketing efforts are always about what others need.

Don’t Worry About Finding “The Perfect Job”
It’s likely that you will have many careers during your lifetime (members of the Millennial generation can expect to have six or seven), so focus on getting to work, expressing your gifts, learning, and making friends. And be open to having a different vocation in a few years. Reinvention is the new normal. And always remember the Cumulative Positive: everything you’ve done in the past will help make you better at what you’ll do next. Nothing is wasted.

Critical Thinking
This is the foundation for managing your career – but it’s only half the battle. Awareness is a necessary starting point, but you’ll also want to get into action. “It is important that you get clear for yourself that your only access to impacting life is action. The world does not care what you intend, how committed you are, how you feel or what you think, and certainly it has no interest in what you want and don’t want. Take a look at life as it is lived and see for yourself that the world only moves for you when you act.” (Werner Erhard)

The Journal
Get your goals and Action Plan out of your head and into digital or written form. For creating a career plan – or any project in your life – start at the end: what’s your goal? Be as specific as possible, and use as few words as you can. Then note all the steps you need to take to get you where you want to go. Include a list of deliverables – and a timeline. As you log your daily progress, pay attention to: what resources you utilized (including networking and collaboration), and what obstacles you had to overcome. You’ll begin to notice your behavior patterns – the things you do (or don’t do) – that keep getting in the way of turning your dreams into tangible results. This might include things like: overcommitting, procrastinating, feeling overwhelmed and then giving up.

You probably can’t get rid of your bad habits, so learn to manage them. If you begin to recognize them when they appear, you can start to reduce their impact. For example: if you tend to procrastinate when you have a project, instead of worrying about it and not doing anything for two weeks, maybe you can train yourself to only spend a couple of hours being worried – and then get to work.

Set Milestones
And reward yourself in some way each time you hit one (for example, a good dinner or a movie). Instead of seeing your goal as a giant mountain you have to climb, break things down into small steps (hills). This will allow you to keep winning – until you finally reach the summit.

Don’t Sin Against Your Talent
When Lenny Bruce, the brilliant comedian and social critic, died of a heroin overdose at 40, someone said that he had “sinned against his talent.” You, too, were given unique talents. They are not to be wasted; they are to be nurtured, and used to help others. It’s a gift from the universe and you are merely the vessel for it. Any bad habit or addiction that interferes with sharing that gift is
“a sin against your talent.” Treat your body like a temple, not an amusement park.

Using critical thinking – and journaling your progress – will encourage you to avoid the childish drama by replacing it with tangible results. These results include: an ongoing sense of accomplishment, increased self-esteem, and lifelong healthy habits. Plus, work that is fulfilling and satisfying supports a positive identity and your recovery – and ties in with your passion. Welcome to responsible adulthood. And being proud of – and confident about – the person you’ve become.

Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D. ( is a recognized authority in the field of Career Packaging and Marketing. His most recent book is 101 Ways to Find Work . . . and Keep Finding Work for the Rest of Your Career! Dr. Austin works with individual clients, and conducts weekly workshops at Chabad Regional Treatment Center, and Valley Recovery Center. A course he created, wrote and filmed for, “Designing a Career Path,” will be published in February. He holds a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University, and can be reached at