As a career counselor I’ve worked with so many people trying to figure out “what they want to do when they grow up”. Some are college seniors starting their careers, others are seasoned professionals making a career transition, and the rest are moving into their Encore Career – not ready to retire, but ready to finally do work that they find purposeful. All these clients have had one common theme; they’ve all struggled with finding a career they love. It may be a cliché statement, “Do what you love”, but it’s true. Who wants to go to a job that they despise and hate? Work is where you spend the majority of your life, what kind of life is that if you’re spending it most of it miserable? So many people get addicted to the paycheck and loose sight of what matters, or they’re just too scared to leave their comfort zone.
So, how do you find your passion and do work that is meaningful to you? That is the million-dollar question! These next 3 tips will get you started on finding your passion show you how to identify a way to incorporate your passion into your work.
Know Your Interests
You won’t find the “right career” if you have no clue what it is that you genuinely like to do. This step is going to take some reflection and self-awareness to help you realize when you are at your happiest. Starts looking at the things you enjoy the most. Consider it even if it’s a hobby: creating music, painting, spending time talking to friends, helping them solve problems; these are all things that will help you clarify aspects about a career that you would enjoy. Remember the key isn’t to focus on finding the “perfect dream job”, but to find the right job that challenges you, helps you grow, utilizes your skills and strengths and allows you to do work that you have a passion for.
Network… Just Do It!
In my line of work I have watched a countless number of people wait until the very last minute before incorporating this step into their career exploration process, let alone their job search. Let my be frank with you, you can’t and you shouldn’t reach out to someone to ask for help when you’re in an immediate need. It’s not ideal to try and connect with someone only when you are looking for a new job or when you need assistance pushing a resume forward to land an interview. Don’t wait until you need to network, start networking now and realize that here is an art to professional networking!
Learn how to massage a relationship. Start by building some rapport with someone new or reconnecting with a contact you already have. An easy way to start is with family, friends, colleagues, people you’ve met at organizations…everyone! Although, not everyone you connect with will have a direct impact on your job search or career clarification, but they might know someone else who can.
Getting the Inside Scoop
It allows you to gain insight on the world of work in that profession and more specifically within a particular company. You get the good and the bad, the scoop on how to become more competitive and the how-to's on getting your foot in the door if you’re seeking a new position. If you’re exploring a career, professional networking is a great place to ask questions through an informational interview. What’s that you ask? It’s just that – gathering information about a career of interest. Not only are you gaining knowledge, but you’re also building a connection that you could tap later on. Remember that everyone you connect with won’t have a direct impact on your career success, but they may know somebody who can influence your next career move. All you need is one!!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the “Dream Career” doesn’t come overnight. Not everyone is lucky to find that his or her passion and career aligns on the first try. Be Patient!!! Let the process happen - refining and reflecting needs to happen before you start seeing results. You won’t refine your interests in an hour and the next person you network with may not have that dream job offer for you, and that is OK! I can’t go to the gym for one week and expect to have a six-pack and banging abs! You can’t expect to sit down for an hour or two and think that you’re epiphany is going to come and your career goal problems have been fixed. Don’t get frustrated; know that all of this tedious work you are putting in now will pay off.
There has to be some strategy when you’re trying to narrow things down. Realize that if you were to attack all of these steps at once you will definitely feel overwhelmed. So take one step at a time. There’s no need to rush. Make sure you are being intentional in each stage of exploration and clarification.
You’re college major isn’t linear and won’t always lead you directly to where you’d like to be. Remember that some jobs are just that… jobs while you work on cultivating your career. This requires a lot of work on your part, but if you want a career you enjoy, then you’ll stay FOCUSED, CONSISTENT and INTENTIONAL!