Around the time that I was in college, there was a lot of talk about finding and pursuing your passion. Shortly after, we experienced a recession in the United States, and a lot of the talk about career passion went right out of the window. The focus became finding and keeping a job, hustling, and doing whatever you needed to do to pay the bills. Nowadays, it seems like people are finding a balance between the two, and many of us are discovering our career passions, and also pursuing other passions on the side.
I’ve often shared that when I was growing up, I wanted to be a writer and an English teacher (to share my love of reading and writing). Once I started college, I decided to go to law school because I wanted to understand government and affect positive change. Then, I discovered school law and public administration and I went down that career path. And now, 7 years out of law school, I’m focusing on employment law issues, and I truly enjoy working on employment law and Human Resources matters. So, “passions” change.
What has been most consistent for me is the desire to help people. Even my blogging and writing is centered around sharing information, teaching people how to do things, and positive change. I have discovered that I don’t have to pick just one career passion to stick with for the rest of my life. Instead, I can integrate the things I’m passionate about into whatever work I do.
I enjoy teaching and training, simplifying complex tasks into simple instructions and systems, and analyzing laws and policies. I can transfer these skills into different jobs (career paths), and do satisfying work that I enjoy.
I also like writing, technology applications, and sharing stories and experiences. Writing goes hand in hand with my career job. But, some of the creative tasks that I enjoy are things that I pursue as passion projects, instead of pursuing these things as part of my career job. Blogging, freelance writing, and most of my online content creation is done not for profit, but for enjoyment.
So, how can you find your career passion? Focus less on a specific job and more on your skills and the tasks that you enjoy. Do you enjoy working with new technologies? Do you enjoy writing? Are you better at working alone, or on teams? What skills can you bring to add value to a company, and what do you need from an organization that you work for?
Think back on your best work experiences, paid and unpaid, and what types of roles you have enjoyed in the past. Go on sites like glassdoor.com and research the reviews of different companies and the qualifications for different jobs that you’d like to try. Hone up your skills, polish your resume, and start applying for similar roles.
Remember that your interests may change over the years, so have a short-term career goal, and long-term career plans that can change as your life and your needs change.
Also, remember that you don’t have to get all of your fulfillment from your 9 to 5 job. Instead, you can do things like volunteer, blog, create a podcast, travel, or do other things that will fulfill your passions outside of work. Often, the skills that you develop while working for a company can translate to your hobbies and you may even find yourself developing a profitable “side hustle.”
Blogger Pat Flynn started out as an architect. He was blogging his experience of studying for an architectural exam, and developed an audience. Once he was laid off, that side project turned into a profitable passion when he sold an eBook exam guide. He continued to pursue his online endeavors and today he is a hugely successful blogger, podcaster, online marketer, and influencer. His first eBook, derived from a passion for helping people, has developed into a business that supports his family, and he is also able to give back to charity.
Since I follow Pat Flynn and other online bloggers and marketers, I used to obsess about entrepreneurship. I used to think that I needed to create content online and make it profitable to quit my job and become a full-time creator. While it’s true that I love writing, and wouldn’t mind being a full-time writer, I also realized that I enjoy working, and that I can work and pursue my career passions separately from some of my creative pursuits like writing.
The skills that I have learned from working in an office environment have really helped me develop the work ethic and technology skills that help me create content online. I’ve also been able to do things like speak and mentor young girls and businesswomen. Without my career, I would not have had those opportunities. So, wherever you are in your career, you can develop skills that you can transfer to other parts of your life. So, appreciate it now, even if you are not exactly where you want to be.
As you explore ways to develop your career passions, decide if it makes sense to separate some of the things that you love into professional versus personal pursuits. Think about your talents and the type of work that you. Research a lot. Then, go for it! Once you try different roles, you will develop a better idea of what truly makes you happy.