Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reinvention Step 2: Finding your Passion

This post is part of the Reinventing your career series

Let's face it, we all make choices in our lives that land us in positions based on what we knew at the time. Those places we land may not be bad at all – in fact, any number of successful careers have been made because a person stumbled on an idea and made it work for them.

When you are experiencing a lot of unhappiness with a job that conflicts with either (or all) of the following:
your home life
your health
your view of where you want to be

... then, a reinvention just might be in the making. But, how do you go from doing what you are doing to doing what you want to be doing? It's not always that easy, figuring out what your passion is, but you can spend as much time on this step as necessary. Of course, we'll offer a few options to shake it up if you get stuck here too long.


Start brainstorming by recalling what you said you wanted to be when you were a kid. If you don't remember, ask your parents, your siblings, anyone who knew you as a kid. Then, while you have their attention, ask them what they thought you would be when you grew up – these answers may be far more surprising than what you thought as a kid.

Make a list

No, not a list of what you want to do, but a big long list of what you don't want to do. It's OK if your current job responsibilities are on this list. Don't fret over that. You'll use this list to compare the thing you think you want to be doing against. It's a great check point and it often leads to the discovery of what you do want to be doing.

Design a dream job for yourself

Think of all the things you would like to do if you only had the time. Love photography and finding ways to create healthy foods for your family? What about combining those into a position as a food photographer for top chefs? Call on your friends and ask them what they see you doing in the future – this is a good dreamy exercise but it can provide insights you hadn't seen yourself.

Think about the shortcuts

It doesn't all have to be a long process either – take a little time to think about shortcuts you could employ, such as:
Got a side business already? Talk to your clients to find out if there's a way to expand that into a full-time business.
Got a hobby you are desperate to enjoy more of? Consider taking classes to expand your knowledge or even better, teach it to others.

What to do if you get stuck

Now, we can't say how long this part of the process will take or how long you can handle it. If you get stuck however, you can try a few things to prod the process:

Volunteer where you think you want to work. If you think you want to open a yoga studio, volunteer to clean the floors after others leave. The key here is to get dirty with the thing you think you want to do.
Interview others who are doing it – ask them what they like and dislike, what they'd do differently if they had it to do over, how much money they make, anything they are willing to share with you.
Take a class in it and see if it still strikes you as interesting.

Finding your passion can take some time and some creative thinking, but it's an important part of the process. Remember, career workers in this day and age may have several reinventions in their lives, so take the time to get good at this step. You just might be back here with a later reinvention.

- Virginia

Virginia O'Connor, started out of college as a teacher of high school English, moved on to marketing writing, and then on to the then-new career of technical writing where she remained for over 20 years. She recently started her next reinvention as a writer and content manager for a number of highly successful websites.

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