I’ve heard it said (likely from Oprah) that the key to happiness is to doing what you love for a living. And if you are doing what you love for a living, you will be successful.
My beautiful BFF is on a quest to do just that. She “likes” her current job (and has enjoyed much success in the field thus far) but she has a sense that she’s meant for something more. She isn’t interested in doing what she likes for the rest of her life. She doesn’t want to settle for doing what she’s good at. She wants to live her best life and that means a career she loves, is passionate about it and that fulfills her.
Love that! What an inspiration!
Her problem; she doesn’t know exactly what that is…yet.
Doing what you like instead of what you love
After I finished high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. I worked for a year or so before going to college and university. I knew I was good at English and enjoyed writing so I used that as a guide post in choosing to study journalism in my post secondary education.
My first college class, our bad-ass journalism instructor (a hardened, cynical reporter type) asked us to do a round table about why we were there. With about a dozen students, he got mostly typical answers. My answer:
“I want to write novels and I figure this course will give me a great foundation for that.”
He was surprised. So was I. I had never really voiced it that way.
After 4 years of study, I think journalism did just that. But instead of following my passion to be an author, I took a safer route and opted for a career in communications; a close and relatable career choice but not necessarily my passion. Now mind you, I enjoy it, I find it fulfilling, and I am happy for the most part. But am I doing what I love and am passionate about!?!?! Probably not.
My BFF said this isn’t surprising. Based on the books she’s reading and the workshops she’s taken, it’s not uncommon for people to choose a career that taps into part of their passion but to be off just a smidge, making the difference between liking and loving your career choice.
Interesting. Since communications has a huge writing component to it, it has enough of my passion to keep me checked-in and “in like” with my job but it’s not enough of my passion to tip the scales to an all out love affair. I’d have to agree with that.
So, how do we figure out what our passion is if we aren’t necessarily sure? And how do we move from like to love? Well, of course I took that question to Mom (AKA: The Oracle) who I knew would have the answers for me.
1. Use your childhood to clue into your passion
Mom suggested I look back to my childhood for answers and clues to what my passion would be now. What did I loved to play at as a child? What interested me most? What did I seem interested in year after year? She said this would give the best indication of what I would love to do as an adult.
I know when I was 14, I had a personal journal that I wrote in daily for nearly 10 years, and I used to write a lot of poetry as a teenager. I did gymnastics for a number of years but…sadly wasn’t much good no matter how hard I tried. I did dance and swimming but neither tweaked my fancy “that” much. Still not seeing it yet?!?!?
She suggested I go further back; what did I play at as a child at 5, 7, 10 years old? All I could remember was mud pies and Barbies; how did that related to an adult’s passion?
Mom said that even as a young child I loved writing. She said I wrote countless plays and acted them out for the family. And with a childhood friend, we would write news reports and would act out entire news programs for the family.
Seriously?! It seems like writing has been a part of my life longer than I even realized.
With that information, Mom had another suggestion.
2. Have a vision
She suggested I sit down, clear my mind, think loosely about doing what I love and just see what visions pop up.
I envision a comfortable “writing” room with a window overlooking some water. My room has a great writing desk (dark wood but old), fantastic lighting, notebooks and pens, a fabulous laptop and monitor, paintings with my favorite quotes, a corkboard wall for storyboarding, a comfortable chair for reading, and shelves holding tons of my favorite reads.
I can almost taste days spent researching and writing, falling in and out of love with characters, creating new and wondrous worlds and drama that no one else understands but me…until we go to print.
I can feel the sun on my face coming through the window as I close my eyes and hear my character’s voices. I can smell the warm cup of coffee sitting next to me. The dog is sleeping under my desk. Maybe some instrumental music playing softly. I am here to create. I am here to write. I can almost FEEL what it would be like to be doing this day in and day out. I feel the passion and excitement stir. But at the same time, it feels so….natural.
More than what it physically looked like, I am left in awe of how it FELT! Amazing!
3. Start to take steps to live your passion
I think being in “like” with my day job has made me somewhat complacent and less willing and hungry to risk everything to do what I’d love. A compromise I am sure a lot of people make.
Mom suggested that anyone on a passion quest start with small steps. Things like ROW80, setting up a writing room in the house, and working towards writing that first book move me more towards my passion. And closer to the day when I can follow my passion full-time. They are also small ways to try on the writing life for size and see if it’s a fit; if it’s truly my passion.
Mom also suggested that people can use volunteering at different organizations doing different task as a great way to try on new jobs to see what strikes a chord with their passion. Or take courses, not just academic but artistic as well, to try out different aspects of the world.
All I know is that watching my BFF on her quest is inspiring me. She’s brave and determined to do find and do what she loves. Whatever the cost. Whatever the sacrifice. She’s made a commitment to do whatever it takes to live her best life. No complacency. No compromise.
Now that rocks!
2012 for me will be all about taking steps towards making my passion my dream-come-true day job!
Do you love your day job? How did you discover your passion? What steps do you take to live your passion every day? What did you love to play at as a child and do you think that ties into what you’d love to do as an adult?