So often we chase the wrong things in looking for a job or in building our career. Money is often the main thing we consider. While being paid for the work we do is important, it is not the most important factor in finding a great job. The most important factor in having a great job is passion. Do what you love. But how?
When I think back to my first major career decision it was what to study in college. I really loved history and considered studying it. However, my well-meaning friends and relatives asked me how I would make money with a degree in History. After all, they reasoned, it is nice to study something you enjoy but what about making money. So I took their advice and studied for and received a degree in Economics. I enjoyed economics (not as much as history) and the path to a well-paid business career was clearly outlined in front of me. So I took that path. In the early years, that path included doing many jobs that I did not particularly enjoy in exchange for promotions and higher salary. The irony is that, in the long run, when you do what you love the money will follow. Pursue what you love to do.
With that in mind, here are four ways to do work you love:
- Start with passion. Take the time to consider what you are passionate about. Do you love being outdoors, learning new concepts, want to run your own business, or enjoy working with your hands? Ask yourself what you like to do. What are you passionate about? How do you enjoy spending your time? Make a list of the four or five things you most enjoy doing.
- Identify and research work areas that fit your list of things you are passionate about. Don’t try and find a specific job that is available and see if some of your list fits. Start with industries and work your way down. Keep it broad. For example, do you like working with kids, being in the outdoors and using leadership skills? Research programs like Outward Bound, working as a trail guide or opening your own adventure tour company catering to kids. There is no one right answer. Be creative and do your research to see what industries or careers are out there.
- Network. Not the old fashioned kind of networking where you ask a friend to help you get a job. Become a part of the world that you want to work in. For example, join industry groups, do informational interviews of people already doing what you are interested in and go to conferences and trade shows in related fields. Join Linked In and participate in groups and discussions related to your area of career interest. The important thing is to connect with people who know more about your area of interest than you do. This will help you identify and develop the skills and contacts necessary to create a dream career. Often by merely becoming a committed part of the work community you are interested in, a job offer will come available.
- Just do it. You can build skills and experience by doing it now, even if that means on the side or in your spare time. For example, if you are a school teacher but want to run an outdoor adventure camp for kids, you can work somewhere similar during your summer break or use vacation time to visit similar camps and learn more about them. Ask those in your new network (see 3 above) how best to get started. Do one thing every week that gets you started down the road to a career or job you love.
I believe that God created each of us with unique talents and abilities and that our passion and joy are the clues left behind to help us identify these talents and abilities. Start thinking about your career in terms of what you love to do and you will end up with a career you love.