Wish you already knew what you wanted to be when you grow up—even though you technically you grew up a while ago?
You’re not alone. One of the reasons why figuring this out is so hard is that you were never taught how to do it in the first place. Did you take Passion 101 in school? No? Exactly!
So, why not let a professional career coach (Hi!), help you out for a few minutes and show you how to get started.
1. Take a Deep Breath (Seriously)
Unless you’re super human, chances are that when you start thinking about finding your passion you get immediately overwhelmed, anxious, confused, or frustrated.
None of these things are famous for being helpful. So, take a deep breath and as you do, calmly think to yourself: I can figure this out.
2. Change Up Your Routine
It’s hard to have a flash-of-genius insight about your career when you’re stuck doing the same-old same-old day in and day out.
So, it’s time to shake up your thinking by shaking up what you are doing. I’m not asking you to go crazy here, but consider taking a completely different way home from work, trying a new recipe, or signing up for a random new activity. Even getting up much earlier (or going to bed later), counts as doing something differently.
Just pick one new thing and do it. And do that for a week. (Then pat yourself on the back because you just started to climb out of your rut!)
Then—and this is the critical bit—think about what you learned. Did you see something new? Did you get a new idea? Did you feel a little stronger or more fearless?
3. Use the Power of Your Browser History for Ideas
The root of your passion can often be found first in where you choose to spend your free time. Nothing shows up how you spend time like your browser history. So, take a second, open it up, and check out what you’ve been doing.
Write down every site you visit frequently and then make a note about what you’re doing on each one.
So, for example, you might be spending a ton of time on Facebook. But are you just reading the newsfeed and catching up with friends? Or, are you active in certain groups and finding yourself commenting on specific topics? Once you write down what you’re doing on each site, look for trends.
Maybe you see that you’re constantly seeking out health news and recipes, leading you to constantly experiment in the kitchen. Sounds like there’s a trend related to health and nutrition that could open the door to becoming a health coach, nutritionist, or even a food blogger.
Or, maybe you don’t see an industry theme. You just truly love being on social media, chiming in on conversations, and sharing interesting things you find. That might lead you to a career in social media.
4. Make Others Do the Work for You
So now you have a list of ideas or trends that you’re clearly interested in.
Take some pressure off yourself and share what you’re learning with your friends and family. Ask this: “I noticed I have an interest in XYZ, have you ever thought about me doing any work in this area or industry? What do you think I’d be good at?”
Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, and you are too close to the topic (and potentially too full of your own doubts and fears). So why not ask others to help you see the big picture?
Some of them will have great suggestions, some won’t—but don’t be deterred! You’re in the idea gathering phase of things, and any new idea might trigger a new path for you to follow.
5. Write Down All the Reasons Why Your Idea Is Good
By now you have a list of career ideas (some good, some bad), and you also might have a head full of doubts or worries.
“I can’t do that, that’s crazy.” “It’s too late for me to try that.” “How would I even begin?”
To combat some of those fears, I want you to take each idea and write down why it’s a great one. In other words, don’t think about why not—think about why.
This may take some practice, but if we take the health example from above, you might end up with a list like this:
Being a food blogger is great and I should do it because I could work from my couch. I’d get to cook food all day which I love. I could write for really cool websites and build my own following. I could help people get healthy, which would change their lives. I could have a real impact on real people. I wouldn’t have to wear normal pants.
Keep writing things down—no matter how random—until you get a good list of all of the reasons why these new opportunities might be good for you. This is not only great motivation, but it’ll also get your creative juices flowing.
Doing this exercise might not lead you directly to a career you love and are qualified to do. But that’s not the purpose. The whole point of this is to figure out what you actually care about, or to go back to the beginning, what you’re passionate about. Because once you know that, it’s way easier to take the next step: Finding a job that aligns with what drives you.