A successful career and a career you love may or may not be the same thing. I was able to pay bills and build my retirement fund in my former position as an instructional coach. However, I wanted to step out of traditional school settings; I wanted to show others how to transform dreams into tangible goals.
I wanted courage to pursue my passion, but I did not believe I had the time, skills, or resources to change my career course. So, I stood still. For twenty years. A pivotal opportunity came to me in the form of a letter from the school district. The letter explained my job was axed as a result of downsizing. I knew this was the push I needed to take a leap of faith into a career path that would allow me to inspire others. I had no guarantees that ensured success; I only knew I had to try.
“Your life doesn’t just ‘happen.’ Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you,” insisted Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. ”You choose success. You choose failure.” He added, “Remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.”
Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Ruth Zive, writer and blogger at www.freelancewritingblog.com, describes steps to help you identify your passions and suggests ways to start moving towards the career you yearn for.
1. Remember What You Loved as a Child Often, our truest passions emerge in childhood, only to be squelched by real life pressures. So think about what you loved long before you had to worry about your career. Writing? Science experiments? Taking care of people? Getting back in touch with those instincts is an important step in finding your passion.
2. Eliminate Money from the Equation. If money were no object, what would you do? Would you travel? Spend all of your time with your children? Would you start a charitable organization to help abused women? Of course money can’t be ignored, but don’t let financial pressures dictate your choices. Your career should ultimately lead to financial security, but if financial security is the defining motivator, it’s unlikely you’ll end up doing what you love.
3. Ask Your Friends for Feedback. Sometimes you’re just not the best judge of what makes you happy. Ask the people who know you intimately when you seem the happiest and what you do the most enthusiastically. Their answers may surprise you.
4. Read through a University Course Catalog. Find some quiet time and see which courses naturally interest you. What would you study if you could do it all over? What courses do you think you could teach? Which subjects scare you to death, and which ones do you find boring? Revisiting these possibilities will help point you in the direction of subjects and topics that you love.
5. Identify your Professional Hero. Of everyone you know, either personally or in your extended frame of reference (from your dermatologist to Oprah), whose career would you most want to emulate? Reach out to her to learn more about how she got to where she is, or, if that’s not possible, read everything you can about her career and life.
6. Think of What You Enjoy That You Also Do Well. After you’ve done these exercises, think about what you’ve learned. Focus on the things that you both enjoy and do well—whether you have a way with animals, make a killer lemon tart, or are crazy for origami—and write them down. Then, narrow the list to the top three or four things. Keep it handy, review it often, and use it as your jumping-off point when you’re plotting your career move.
1. Talk to a Career Counselor. Career counselors help others figure out what they want for a living, and they’ll have insights and tools to help you zero in on the things you love most and do best, and also be able to offer ideas and guidance on how to find a career that best suits those passions. Take advantage of those resources.
2. Leverage Social Media. More than ever, we live in a social world. Once you’ve identified what it is that you love, get busy on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, connecting with people who share your areas of interest. Read blogs, join forums, and find out what it’s really like to do what you love.
3. Start Saving Money. Once you feel strongly that you want to start down this new path, start saving. A lot. The more money you have in the bank, the less finances will have to rule your decisions. And the less scary it will be if and when you do quit your job.
4. Just Do It. Ultimately, you won’t really know what you love to do unless you actually bite the bullet. Until you give it a go, it’s really just speculation. So, whether you take a small step like signing up for a class or you dive head-first into entrepreneurship, roll up your sleeves and do it. You’ll never know until you try.
Ruth explains, “I found my passion—and I’m grateful for that. But these tips are still serving me well as I go down this path, because it’s important that my work continues to be fueled by what I love most.” When you discover your passion and actively use your gifts and talents in ways that set your heart on fire, you will never have to work another day in your life.
What would you do if you had the opportunity? What if the opportunity was now?
Reconnect with what you love with these tips from How to Find Your Passion.
If you’re considering a job change, check out 7 Hot Tips to Find Your Dream Job.
It’s never too late to pursue your passion. Read Pursue Your Passion (While Juggling Work & Other Responsibilities).