How do you find your passion? For me it all started when I had been working at a large financial institution for a few years and I was quite honestly bored out of my mind.
I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed a change because I couldn’t do my job anymore and needed to leave. I was sick of showing up, counting the minutes, and praying for Friday every week!
I dreaded waking up each morning to go to the dismal place I called a job. This did not feel like a career – it was just a job to pay my overwhelming bills, student loans, and my overpriced apartment.
I wanted more; I needed more! Yes, the pay was great, but I was aching for something more – I couldn’t get over HOW MUCH I HATED MY JOB!
Making The Decision To Quit:
I finally came to the realization that life is too short to be stuck in something I hate. Our world has enough disconnected workers and I was determined not to be another individual living like this! I knew I could bring more contentment to the table for my life.
It was a tough realization to accept; my job looked great on a piece of paper (many call a resume.) The company had a great brand name. So why was I so miserable?
All my life; I have been told, “study hard so you will get in a good college!” Once in college, the slogan became, “study hard in college, so you will end up with a good job!”
Something always felt missing though. I never took the time to discover what I can bring to a role and what I enjoy doing – this led me to get a job and ultimately hate what I was doing.
Gone is the generation of pensions and staying with the same firm for 20-30 years. This approach doesn’t work anymore; it functioned for my parents but not anymore.
Work cultures amongst generations have shifted over the years. Millennials have shown a propensity for wanting to do something meaningful in their life – not just work!
It was a pale cloudy morning. I wakened dreary and uninspired as typically occurred on work days with my former employer, when something inside me woke up. I felt determined, yet calm. I went into the office with a three page write up on why I was leaving – my own memo. It felt like something from Jerry Maguire – the scene where he stays up all night writing a huge ethical proposal to give to the employees at his firm to express his true self! Not to sound cliché at all, but it had all the workings to be my Jerry proposal.
And did it feel great to do it!
I left abruptly, without a path laid out in front of me or a knowledge of the steps to acquire such a path. The only thing I knew was that I was ecstatic for the unknown. I was back in the driver’s seat for my life, ready to take any direction – I was finally taking back control. My first days of unemployment consisted of extensive reading and writing.
I realized I needed a game plan to figure out my next steps. I established a step-by-step approach to put that plan in place and get where I ultimately wanted to go!
Step 1: Discovering Myself:
I determined this was the most crucial piece with literally thousands upon thousands of opportunities in the world – how could I know what I should focus on in a career without fully understanding myself.
In the past, I had “plugged” away in life – mainly in school – and never took the time to figure out what skills I love to use and the type of job or career that would be the right fit for me. I needed to start making decisions and close doors, but I felt there were too many options; too many doors to choose – it was overwhelming. How could I make the right decision for me?
Who Are You:
Your family and friends are incredibly important resources for you. Ask them what they think you are actually good at. Get their opinions of who you are and where your strengths lie. Sometimes, this is the easiest way of finding your career focus. They understand who you are and can lay the foundation of uncovering your “passion”.
Take a self-discovery test to find your key strengths. This helped me uncover skills in which I excelled and gave me ideas for areas for which I could improve.
What skills from all your jobs do you like using? Which skills derive from aspects that you hated? Take some actual time to really think about it. Create a list:
- Projects/Sports/Other activities
Penning a list will help break down the skills you enjoy doing in a role. First, group these actual skills amongst your roles individually. Then, take note of the skills that overlap. This is an effective indicator of your basic strengths.
Lastly and most importantly, understand who you are as a person.
Everyone comes from a different path and has their own story, which gives us our uniqueness. Use what you have, trust in your intuition, and figure out where you want to go!
Answer these questions:
1: What drives you?
2: What gets you up in the morning?
3: What are you passionate about in your personal life?
For me, I dreaded getting up in the morning; obviously one sure-fire sign that my job was not right for me. Take 15 minutes to sit and think where you see yourself at 50 or 60 years old – are you happy where you ended up? Did you accomplish what you wanted as a person?
This exercise helped give me clarity and really put everything together!
If you find yourself having trouble identifying skills you enjoy and are strong in, look at what you do in your spare time such as a Saturday afternoon – what are you drawn to? What articles do you consistently read?
Are there people you consistently follow or read about? What excites you? Do you like reading about personal finance, or how content marketing works, or how specific things are built? Use these inquiries to uncover what you think you may be passionate in doing in your life’s work.
Will you discover your passion and ignite your fire or will you just stick to the boring job that you hate?
After you have established a list of skills you love to use and understand what drives you, search for the types of roles that include this type of work. Create a list of 3-5 jobs that might interest you from this.
I am not a big proponent on looking at job boards, but in this case, this can be a great tool to uncover what jobs have the specific list of skills you are looking to use. LinkedIn contains self-identifying common skills area for all listed jobs. Simply find and match your skills with available roles.
Reaching Out To People:
Got your list narrowed down to 3-5 jobs? Great! Now invest time learning about the job. Meet with people who work in those roles. Find out what they do on a daily basis and see if their job aligns with the skills you possess or want to acquire. If they are not available to meet, move on to another person until you can get the information to make good decisions.
The great thing about this exercise is you can see which types of jobs are good for you and eliminate ones that are not. Speaking with people will allow you to see if the actual job still holds your interest.
This step can be quite imposing. It will be hard. One of my favorite authors, James Altucher says, “Fear will never solve tomorrow’s problems”. If you are not willing to spend the time to do the work, you will never discover what you want in life. Find something that excites you; break free from your comfort zone. If you are not willing to ponder new directions in life you might not discover what enjoyments you may get out of life.
Jim Carey, the comedian, gave a compelling commencement speech at a local Iowa college that stays with me to this day. He spoke about how his dad was a great comedian, but he was too scared to perform because of the risk of failure, so he took a safe job he hated. He worked for an accountant for many years and actually ended up getting laid off. Jim Carey recalls that it was hard for them to survive and they struggled day-to-day.
What Jim tries to reiterate here, is that you can fail in something you hate doing in as much as something you are passionate in, so you might as well take a chance on doing something you love!
Go out there and find what you love, because it will make all the difference in life. If you don’t take the leap and seize the opportunity, you will never know. Chase your dream!
People are quite scared of closing doors, but if you never close doors, you’ll never end up going anywhere. Take some time to figure out what you want to do and go for it! In life you need to close doors, get more specific, and focus on specific options. I realize this now, because if you leave too many options open, you will never get where you want to go! By closing doors you’ll end up having more opportunities opening new doors – better doors!
It’s like watching TV; if you spend all your time searching for something to watch, you’ll end up not watching anything. What can you do now to achieve your passion?