“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.” – Harriet Tubman
No life is worth living if you are doing something you hate every day. So many students end up on career trajectories that are not satisfying to their actual likes, interests, and passions. Parents will tell students it’s better to pursue a conventional job and secure a reliable income than it is to take risks and find your passions. I am going to disagree, politely, with this concept and encourage you, the reader, to search for careers that are in-line with what you actually like and love to do.
For some, that’s organizing numbers and reading through data charts; for others, it’s standing up in court to defend a client. Whatever sets ablaze the fire in your heart, that’s what I want you to focus on in your career search.
I know many students will ask me: I don’t know how to find my passions and career talents? Where do I begin? We have all been there, which is why it’s important to not be so hard on yourself about exploring your passions. Think of it as a fun exercise in which you will uncover your innate talents, making you a happier, more assured person.
First, let’s breakdown the components of your strengths:
- Skills: A skill is something you have actually learned and experienced. It required time for you to obtain this skill. The skill provides a benefit and can distinguish you from the competition. Examples would include: proficiency in Microsoft Word, certificates, experience in print photography, etc. These can be hard to articulate because they are not necessarily a natural strength, but rather, something you had to go out of your way to develop. In order to explore your skills and think up ones you might not realize you have, ask yourself: “what’s in it for them? What do I possess that can advance the company?” The more detailed you can be, the better. Instead of saying you are a people person, why not say you are skilled in the management of micro-groups in an office-setting?
- Passions: Your passions should be a major driving force in your career and the jobs you select for yourself. You are not meant to live in a life in which you work a job that you absolutely loathe. What defines you personally should define you at work, too. Don’t feel like you need to put on some mask when you want into the office. If you feel disconnected from your passions in your job, you will grow to resent the job over time. Identifying and exploring these passions is essential in your career search process. Some questions to ask yourself: what am I curious about? What makes my heart sing? What would I rather be doing right now instead of reading this book? If money wasn’t an issue, what would I be doing?
- Values: Lastly, we have your values. Values are the real-deal standards and principles of behavior that you live by. These can include being selfless, strong, motivated, and full of integrity. It can be a commitment to helping everyone else around you grow and succeed. You want to pick a career that has the same values as you – namely, a company that works the way you do. If you prefer to work for a company that puts the collective over the individual first, be sure to explore that kind of value. Many companies will post their mission and value statement right on the website, so you don’t have to wonder. Take some time to learn more about your values as a person. When no one else is looking, is it important to you to do the right thing, or just get by? Ask yourself these questions.
How Do I Find My Passions?
I am going to give you some actionable tips and examples you can use to really sit down and identify those passions today. Of course, no two people are the same, which is why you will still want to do what feels right to you and your life. Here are some tips for exploring your innate desires and passions:
- Clear Your Mind and Start with the Right Perspective: Starting with negative self-talk or overly positive self-talk can cloud your ability to find your passions. If you are thinking, “Well, I have no passions because I am a boring person,” then you are already setting yourself up for failure. Instead, clear your mind and picture it as a blank slate. Get yourself into a place where you are receptive to exploring your likes and interests.
- Think of Memories That Make You Happy: When are you your happiest? Is it when you’re on the beach with your family, or is it when you’re working on a new project in the backyard? Think about the memories that like a soul in your fire. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose? This is a great way to start exploring what actually makes you happy.
- Find Some Commonalities: Let’s say you love the beach, coffee, running, and traveling. How can you pick a career that is some kind of “umbrella” catch? You want to try and find a job that fits in with all of your passions, so you can feel totally fulfilled in a work setting. If you like the beach, fitness, and traveling, you may want to consider a career in wellness, fitness, or holistic coaching. You could also consider travel planning in some capacity with a wellness spin, or working with a co-working or co-living company.
- Hobby or Profitable Passion: You may love to sing more than anything, but understand that making money as a singer is nearly impossible. There does need to be an element of clarity and rationality in this process, which is why you may want to pursue your passion for travel, planning, and fitness more. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing singing as a hobby on the side, but you do want to have a realistic conversation with yourself about how you are going to pay your bills.
- Prepare for the Self-Doubt: When exploring passions, it can be a very difficult and stressful situation for people. It brings out all of the fears and anxieties in a person because you may be uncomfortable actually exploring what makes you happy. Forget all of the critiques and mean things people have said about you, and forget about failing. We all fail at times, that’s life! Remove your emotions and allow your soul to bear itself. It’s a cathartic and healthy practice!
With that, you should have some idea of your skills, passions, and values. You will need this information not only for the job search itself, but also for your resume, cover letter, and introductory materials that you use to set yourself apart from the competition. Don’t rush this process, either. Take your time and turn it into a mindfulness exercise. It’s time to meet yourself for the very first time!