We all know people who absolutely love what they do. So much that they call it a calling or a passion, and don’t place a fine line between time spent at work and at home. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like you are working. 2500 years ago Confucius said:
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Easier said than done, right?
So what about the majority of us who aren’t lucky enough to have found their real passion at work? How many are actually merely satisfied at best? What can we do if we spend 40, 50 or even 60 hours every week at work, feeling a little stuck or hopeless? I feel lucky as I do for a living what I’ve been dreaming of doing for a long time, but it hasn’t always been the case.
A common way of dealing with a lack of purpose at work is devoting your time to things more meaningful after work. Some of my friends are involved in charity work. One is a masseur (in addition to working as an investment banker) and once he is done with his banking job, he spends time massaging – and says it’s more relaxing and rewarding than anything else. Most of my coaching clients find ways to spend time doing things that feel good regardless of money they can make. This is our intuitive way of looking for more meaning.
Have a Plan B
How about you design your second career and consciously invest some of your time into something you absolutely love doing, something you could do without being paid? While you are on a paycheck with a job you find less than exciting, you can make small steps to diversify and expand your options.
I’m advocating for that as we tend to go to the extremes. We either stay doing what drains us, or we feel tempted to leave our jobs without having that second option – that’s when we are too fed up with our lives and can’t stand the idea of spending THAT job one more day.
You surely heard stories of rich bankers opening restaurants or moving to remote islands to work as bartenders. I admire them as it takes a lot of courage, and no doubt there is risk involved. The grass is always greener on the other side, but how do you know until you’ve tried?
That’s why developing your talent in a different field while still having a job security is a great way of dealing with that challenge. You will see how this may benefit not only your new career and give you an energy boost, but also contribute to what you are doing now!
What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?
Let’s dream for a moment and assume we live in a money-free world. What do you see yourself doing? What would you absolutely love doing if you could have the freedom to explore all the opportunities?
Regardless of your answer, whenever asked, people usually come to a conclusion that behind the facade and their specific answer, there is an underlying desire to find a more meaningful occupation. That’s where growth and success meet.
Find your Area of Destiny
It’s likely you’d find your alternative, dreamed career at an intersection of your talents and passions: it’s been called An Area of Destiny by Terry A. Smith, the author of Live ten: Jump-start the best version of your life. To find your of AOD, try answering 3 questions:
- What am I really good at? This is the time for you to really appreciate yourself. Prepare a list of things that make you somehow stand out. If you are struggling, ask your friends. Sometimes the most obvious things are not that clear to us and we need distance to see them properly.
- What do I enjoy doing? I think that an additional question is what would I be happy to do even if I wasn’t going to get paid. This assumes you would have other sources of income, but for the sake of letting your imagination work, it is a powerful one.
This is the most important step, but I’d argue one of two you should take. If you dream of letting go of your current career at one point and would like to invest your time to hopefully switch careers at one point, try answering one more question:
- Is there a demand for my skills?
This is increasingly important – if you want to monetize on your skills, you will be able to spend much more time doing what you love if you can make a good living out of that.
It took me 7 years before I realized that being a personal development coach is something I’d absolutely love to do. 7 years to transform the idea of what I felt would give me a greater sense of fulfillment into a realistic plan. To answer the above questions, I knew I’m better than most at communicating with people, really listening to them, being able to relate to what the other person is going through, and looking for solutions with their best interest in mind.
I called it a very high emotional intelligence with a real desire to help. At the same time, ever since I remember, women were my absolute number 1 focus. I recall helping many of my friends with different work / private life challenges where the only thing stopping them from making meaningful changes was the fact they didn’t realize their full potential, they were selling themselves short. Now it seems so obvious to me, but the idea of women empowerment didn’t cross my mind for a long time. When it did I decided to started on a journey to become a coach – and it’s the best way for me to unwind and recharge.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
We tend to underestimate how much our lives will change in 10 years. The easiest test is to ask yourself – how much will my life be different in 10 years? What will I do for a living, where will I live, etc. Then, think how much had changed over last 10 years. Most people tend to underestimate that. There are things you can and can’t influence, but if there is something you would want to do, give it a shot now. Chances are it will take you closer to doing that, in some form or shape, in a couple of years.
In her book Becoming Michelle Obama said:
failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result.
It’s the feeling that can stop the greatest dreams from developing, and keep us stuck. Try to relax and let the fear of making mistakes go. It doesn’t matter you make a wrong decision and change your mind, we all do it. Ultimately it’s only by trying out different professions and constantly evaluating your situation that you find your niche. That’s when you can connect the dots to see that even least useful experiences actually served some purpose – because they gave you a broader perspective, because you met someone who pointed you in the right direction, or simply because you can say with a conviction: that’s not for me.
Terry A. Smith: Live Ten: Jump-Start the Best Version of Your Life