When your job is wearing you down and you can’t quite seem to find your pep, you sometimes daydream about doing something (anything) different. But what if you did change jobs — or even careers? What would you choose to do, if you did something different?
There are ways that you can figure out your life’s passion before you leave your current gig behind you.
Here are some tips:
Don’t Quit Yet
If you’re currently employed and going through some introspection on your career trajectory, congratulations: don’t quit!
Not yet, anyway. While you’re working, you’re doing lots of good things for yourself, like making money to pay bills (though maybe you want to make more money, and that’s valid) or doing work that’s good for the world (though maybe you’re looking to improve on that front, too).
You have to use those non-work hours to get laser focused on the “passion project” of your life. The good news is that sometimes having less time — say, an hour or two a night — to do something difficult can make you work harder at it than if you had all the time in the world to ruminate on life’s great mysteries.
Make Some Lists
When you spend that time thinking, start writing things down. Make lists of your favorite things in life, whether they mean “job” to you or not.
Childhood dreams stick with us for our whole adult lives. If you wanted to be a fireman when you were growing up, but now you’re an accountant … maybe it’s time to look at that gap. You might crave excitement, or public service, or want to work with a team. Your old dreams can remind you of your true goals and needs.
Write it all down. Make notes on jobs that are one, two and three degrees separated from your current position. Keep your lists in places where you can get to them quickly when a thought strikes you — you’d be surprised what your first thoughts of the day can tell you once you’re fully awake.
Dust off your childhood dreams and build a career based on what's really important to you.
Talk to Others
Have you ever wondered what So-and-So does for a living? Or what it really takes to be good at this job or that job? Talk to friends! Talk to family! Chat with strangers in the doctor’s office waiting room, or at a party, or in your social groups outside of work. People love talking about themselves and you never know what you might learn.
Don’t Focus on “Viability”
At Entrepreneur, Lisa Girard points out that when you’re trying to find your passion project, you shouldn’t get bogged down in whether or not your passion makes good business sense or not. She spoke with Cath Duncan, a life coach who knows a thing or two about people making the shift to a labor of love.
“She recommends doing what you enjoy — even if you haven’t yet figured out how to monetize it,” Girard writes. “Test what it might be like to work in an area you’re passionate about, build your business network and ask for feedback that will help you develop and refine a business plan. It’s a way to not only show the value you would bring, but you can also get testimonials that will help launch your business when you’re ready to make it official.”
Listen to Your Heart
While our brains may say “that’s silly” or “you’re too old,” your heart might sing a different tune, and isn’t that where happiness lives? Writing for Oprah.com (the home of passion projects), Marie Forleo notes that all the lists in the world might tell you that your idea is dumb, but if it truly makes you happy and you bring life to it, why not do it? Become a gardener, take that course in beekeeping, become an early elementary teacher. Do what brings you joy. It may or may not become an entirely new career, but it will feed your soul, no matter what.
“Proactively bring passion to everything you touch, to everything you do. No matter what task is in front of you, bring as much enthusiasm and energy to it as you possibly can,” Forleo writes.
That way, you can truly tap into your inner creative spirit, she says: “When you make this shift, you’ll ignite business ideas and creative insights far beyond what your thinking mind alone is capable of.”
Tell Us What You Think
Have you changed careers to follow your dreams? Share your story in the comments or come talk to us on Twitter.