What do you truly love to do? How far removed is that vision from your reality? Most people believe that there’s a large gap between the tasks they perform during their daily nine-to-five, and their dream job. It doesn’t have to be that way. All that sits between an uninspiring cubicle and the pursuit of passion is a little planning, a little preparation, and lots of promotion.
Think about it. You will spend 40 hours a week, for about forty years, doing your job. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to spend it doing something that matters to you? Something you have passion for and take pride in? Something that will fuel your fire as opposed to extinguishing it? And something that will also pay the bills?
While some feel that’s a luxury they cannot possibly hope for, especially in an uncertain economy, there are many ways to turn your passion into profit, and just as many good reasons to do so. We’re not advising you to march into your office tomorrow and hand in your resignation as you head off to skydiving school. What we are advising is that you take a good look at what you truly enjoy doing and consider the possibility of making a living at it.
Legions have done it willingly. A good many more were forced to seek new career opportunities after a huge downsizing trend in the recent recession. Good reads on the subject abound, and can offer insight and ideas, helping you move toward a more fulfilling, more enjoyable career. Where to begin?
- Make a list. Write down the things you’d love to do even if you didn’t get paid. The list need not translate to a lucrative career at this point. Just jot down the activities or interests that simply make you come alive with wonder, curiosity, joy, and satisfaction.
- Make another list of things you are good at. Usually, the things we do well make us feel good. That often translates to joy. We don’t always give ourselves credit where it’s due, however. Whether it’s cooking, fixing mechanical things, finding bargains, redesigning things to be more functional, or any other detail that you regularly perform, write it down.
- Look for the intersect. If the same thing appears at the top of both lists, that makes a clear statement. If not, begin to dovetail what you love with what you’re good at. Do you like to sail, as well as sew? Are you a good organiser that also loves to run, collect rare books, or play an instrument? Pair up two interests to create your niche. While the world may not be ready for musical cupcakes or waterproof guitars, combining your area of expertise with a personal passion could create a winning niche. Sometimes, narrowing your market can earn your new title. If you’re a sculptor, your competition in the world of fine art can be daunting. If you take your art to an unusual medium, such as ice, food, or clothing, success could be on your doorstep. The caveat here is to ensure there will be an appreciation, and demand, for what you do.
- Become an expert. Before the internet, that often took years, even decades. Today, one can dive into the wealth of shared information on the net and earn expert status in under a year. There will always be some professions that require arduous brick-and-mortar campus degrees, but many areas of study are now abundantly available online through formal and informal sources. If you already hold expert status in something, say, your photography hobby, or your fishing trips, so much the better.
- Brand yourself. This can be a make or break point for many new ventures, so it’s important to get it right. Make sure your brand says who you are and what you do. Again, there are mountains of information available online about how to do this. If you’re on a budget, buckle down and read the top blogs. Otherwise, hire an expert. A clever video, simply and inexpensively produced, can earn viral rewards and huge results. A pricey production with the wrong focus can put a good idea to bed way too early. You know your product or service better than anyone, so just trust your choices.
- Find clients. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but social media provides networking and connecting tools to put you in front of customers who will love what you do. Post regularly, being true to your brand, and your following will come.
If you’re heading out with a newly-minted degree, or are not sure where your passions lie, consider the following: Are you a gate-keeper, good at details and precise analytical thinking? Do you anticipate problems and enjoy planning ahead? Consider tasks and activities that require a defensive, preventive stance. Are you a broad thinker, loving creativity, innovation, and the risk that comes along with them? Avoid the defensive strategy careers and consider one that embraces the offense. Have a mixture of both? You’re a born entrepreneur. You’ve got the personal qualities that most successful business people say are important.
Is there risk involved here? Yes. Financially, plan ahead to ensure no one goes hungry. That means different things for different people, but you know what you need. Failure? Always a risk, but that’s true whether you go out and find your passion, or whether you stay in your cubicle. Reward? Absolutely. Pursuing your passion as a career can be positively life-changing. Is there risk involved in working in an unfulfilling job for 40 years? Yes, but a different kind. Studies point to increased maladies ranging from depression and obesity to osteoporosis and heart disease.
Whatever your passion, there are many routes to successful outcomes. Even if you’re just making potato salad for the very first time, fundraising platforms like Kickstarter can help you become the expert you’ve always dreamed of while using other people’s money, giving you a built in ad campaign with a ready audience.
So, what are you waiting for?