What do you want to be when you grow up? Yeesh. That’s a hard one. I’ve heard all kinds of people say they don’t know the answer to this, and it’s certainly not an age thing. Unfortunately, you don’t wake up at age 30 and realize your life’s dream. I know this because I woke up at age 30 and thought “Hmm. It’s trash day. Oh, and I’m 30.”
When I was younger, I was absolutely convinced that you didn’t need to “find your passion”. You needed to be a big girl and find a normal job (Like insurance or banking. You know, anything where you need to wear pantyhose). You’d have a 401(k), a reasonable career path and work hard at it. If you happened to love your industry, then you were a lucky duck, but don’t expect it.
Well…turns out I was an idiot. Ok, not a total idiot. I do have a 401(k), you know. But I also failed to dream big enough. I failed to believe that I could be successful AND adore what I’m doing.
I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m on a darn good path. And the key to it all has been understanding, really understanding, what I want.
So here are a few hints in finding that helped me in finding my passion…finding “that thing” that is perfect for me.
- Figure out what your strengths are. An incredible tool for this is the Strengthsfinder 2.0 test. It takes 20 minutes and will entirely change the way you see yourself. Instead of focusing on weaknesses that you could only possibly become average at, it only helps you identify your strengths. That way you focus all your energy on accentuating the best parts of yourself, and elevating those to an extraordinary level. Focus on finding a career that uses, praises and respects these traits.
- Think about what you like about your current job. What parts are you great at? What do you love? My friend “K” has a job in HR and likes her job, but isn’t sure it’s her passion. What she does love is taking complex, boring policies and explaining them in a way that makes people have that “Aha” moment. So the lesson here… K is great at communications. She has a gift for getting to the heart of something and building a bridge that helps people understand. That’s what she’s great at!
- Talk to people! Tell them your strengths. Ask them if they know of any kinds of careers where someone with your strengths would flourish. A big part of finding your passion is understanding what in the world is out there. I was in insurance for so long, I honestly didn’t know what other kinds of jobs there were. So I spent a ton of time getting insight from other people about what kind of jobs they have, or have had. All this help paint the picture of what kinds of jobs exist.
- Research. Is there an industry you love? Haunt those companies’ job listings to see if anything is a possible fit. And remember (from Lean In), that you don’t have to have all the “required” skills or background. That’s just a wish list and if you have some of the critical elements, position yourself in a way that makes those elements shine.
Now the next step is making that career/role hop. And that’s a big move, but I’ll lend a hand in any way I can. Be on the lookout for more posts in that vein, but for now… figure out what you really want!