There are a lot of abstract thoughts out there on finding your true career passion. In my first article on finding your passion, I covered the #1 obstacle to working within our interest of passion: our learned limited belief system, and I listed a few physical things that we can do to stretch our belief system.
My second article covered using self-hypnosis to help us reprogram the mental block our limited belief system instills in us and this something that I’ve made a regular practice.
Assuming that we are taking these steps to remove our self-imposed barriers in order to pursue our dreams, let’s do a few exercises that can help us actually DEFINE those dreams!
I started out in my field of choice, but it mutated quicker than the Xmen
I covered this at some length in my intro to Over 50 Starting Over, and will simply summarize with: I started out in Fine Art, I found that I preferred graphic design. Upon graduating college, technology took over design and I’d become a digital marketer, designer and teacher. While I found this fulfilling, it was too much to keep up with my rapidly changing career and I found it best to quit teaching Photoshop after 18 years and concentrate on marketing and the technology that drives it today.
But, as the years have gone by, I’ve found myself asking the familiar question: Is this all there is? Is pimping out this marketing service to different clients all that I want my legacy to be?
It was a tough question and I was losing sleep over it. How could I feel so incomplete? Was I not truly pursuing my career of passion?
I had to take inventory (make a list)
Common sense says that making a list of things that you like and don’t like is a great way to find your ideal career. But it can be intimidating looking at that blank piece of paper and thinking that the results will probably make you more miserable as you realize that you have to sell everything and move to Hollywood and become a starving actor.
Chances are, when we really dig deep on the subject of what makes us tick, we’re really looking to expand our relationships and flex our creativity. So, while being a Hollywood actor may sound like a great way to find admiration and get rich (or starve), it’s most likely not the creative outlet that you’ve been passionate about, otherwise you’d be in your local theater.
Here’s a 5 Step Process that you can do in 5 minutes.
1. Start by making five categories:
Jot down these five categories across the top of your paper:
Careers/Jobs, Activities/Hobbies, Principals/Spirituality, Personal/Professional Development and Interests/Curiosity
2. Now, fill in as many list items as you can under each category in 5 minutes
Yes, 5 minutes. It will get you past the “paralysis by analysis” stage and will eliminate less important items – if it takes you 30 minutes to remember a few side jobs that you did in college, then they didn’t have enough of an impact on you to qualify for this important and personal list.
You’ll find some overlap in some categories and that’s ok. It will help you find what’s important to you. For instance, I found that I put “audio books, pod casts and YouTube videos” under Principals/Spirituality AND Personal/Professional Development. Apparently these things are very important to me.
3. Next, rank the top 3 of each category
This is where things get interesting, and it may take 15 minutes or more. Start with your list of Careers/Jobs and put a “1” by your favorite, “2” by second favorite and “3” by your third. If you have a hard time doing this, use the process of elimination and adopt the mindset that the jobs that you are NOT selecting, you’ll never be allowed to do ever again.
With that in mind, I had a hard time not including “waiting tables and bartending” in my Career/Jobs list simply because I enjoyed it so much during my college days. I had to ask myself WHY I had a hard time keeping it off my list? What was it that I liked about it so much? Answers: Serving people. Social. Fast pace. It didn’t make my Top 3, but it sure did tell me something about myself.
My top 3, unsurprisingly are: 1. Graphic Designer, 2. Online Marketing and 3. Teaching.
I personally didn’t find much value in my Activities/Hobbies list, even though I included “bicycle riding” there and under Personal/Professional Development. I find my hobbies to be just that -– hobbies and each of us need to be able to make that distinction.
Principals/Spirituality is very important to me and, as I mentioned, I added “audio books, podcasts and YouTube videos” under this category and under Personal/Professional Development and then added “personal development” as my #1 option under Interests/Curiosities. It’s safe to say I learned that personal/professional development is near and dear to my heart.
Add these all together, and you can probably see why I began “Over 50 Starting Over”. If you ask, “But, why Over 50?” A large part of why I quit teaching was because of the tech gap that had formed between young students and my peers (and older). I found most of the younger students get caught up in the use of the technology, but haven’t yet formed much interest in “why” to use the tech. Whereas people in my age group are more concerned about simply utilizing it with as little fuss as possible to accomplish their long term goals. I can really relate to that. It’s the “why” that I find most interesting and it’s what a passionate career is all about. Heck Simon Sinek made himself a YouTube sensation talking about this.
4. Prospective Passions: Have some fun examining your list
At a glance, are you seeing commonalities throughout your Top 3s? Are your interests more physically-related or mental? More factual or conceptual?
Building your career of passion is a lifelong journey, not a destination, so have some fun with it! Perhaps you should start take any of your Activities/Hobbies and fantasize about how you could turn this into something uniquely your own (example below).
Stay positive. Resist the negative. List 5 reasons WHY
The only way you’re going to find your career passion is by not talking yourself out of it, which is what most of us have mastered throughout our lives. As you go through your lists and experiment with things that you enjoy most, find at least five reasons WHY you can make this hobby work, not five reasons why they won’t. This is how you’ll personalize your passion and differentiate yourself.
Maybe making home brew (beer) is a hobby. If you’re halfway decent at it, it’s entirely possible to turn this into a full-fledged career passion. The HOW isn’t as important as the WHY. If you have enough reasons WHY you want to do this, you’ll find your passion and figure out the HOW.
WHY would my homemade beer be successful?
- Because I’ll research the best methods and perfect my already unique beer
- Because I have contacts at local bars/restaurants/food stores that would give me a viable shot
- Because I have a really edgy, clever concept for the brand that I’ll carry through all the marketing
- Because I have a great business background and will be able to scale the operation efficiently
- Because I have a great personality that will lend itself to my YouTube videos (or podcast, blog, Facebook…)
Ok, if you ever made ANY home brew, this should get you excited about the possibilities. I haven’t and I’m excited about it!
But, let’s not stop here. Find other interests that stand out to you. Perhaps you love fitness and health, but would never consider being a traditional personal trainer. Create your very own unique methodology!
WHY would my unique fitness and health service be successful?
- Because I’ll research the best methods and perfect my exercise routines based on facts that I can back up
- Because I’ll offer an online weekly recipe that will be based on the perfect affordability/healthiness ratio
- Because I’ll offer group courses at local YMCAs and community centers at discount rates as well as personal consultations
- Because I’m friends with a respected fitness personality that will lend her name to my brand
- Because I’ll target seniors of moderate income levels that will enjoy incorporating my “energy-increasing” training into their schedules without burdening them economically
I’ve never considered being a fitness and health consultant. If you have, perhaps those five points would look a little different, but I hope you get the idea.
5. Research your topics thoroughly
Special note, this is the LAST step for good reason: if you dig into cold, hard research too early, you’ll put yourself right in the same box as everyone else. You’ll be handed other’s blueprints and forsake adding your unique fingerprint… and with it, your passion angle as well. So, be sure that you’ve completed Step 4 before moving onto this one.
Back to our home brew example. If this hit home enough that you want to give it a go, start with researching the best techniques that you can find online. Then search and read up on, “How to cost-effectively build your home brew business”. This knowledge alone will be enough for you to begin blogging and YouTube-ing your journey, which will be the foundation of your marketing campaign.
Over 50 Starting Over is about positioning you as an expert
In every instance of the possible Passion Prospects that we fleshed out, moving from hobbyist to expert will be the necessary step towards success. It will differentiate you and fuel your marketing efforts which are yet to come.
A final word
Don’t expect this to provide your definitive passion overnight. If it’s something that has eluded you thus far through your life, then you’ll likely start to hone in on it in increments. We’re breaking down barriers and seeking new inspiration. But if you’re still on board with me to this point, then the only thing holding you back from finding and implementing your career passion is drive and motivation.
Note: While I read multiple articles for my research on this subject, I found these two Forbes articles as particularly inspiring and worth further reading:
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