What Is My Passion and How Do I Decide What to Do With My Life?

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Another comment I hear all the time from students and friend is “I don’t have a passion”. It’s always sad to hear and a little frustrating, especially from the older people. Give me a break folks, there’s no way you should be hitting your mid to late 20s and still telling people that you can’t decide what you’re passionate about. Here’s a news flash, everyone wrestles with their career in their mid 20s. It’s hard and involves paying dues and working through challenge – I get it. But the thing about paying dues is that it determines whether you’re willing to work hard to get where you want or if you’re just a poser and are out of your field.

Hopefully you were lucky enough to realize that you didn’t have a particular passion before you hit your mid 20s, but maybe you’re not. Either way, my answer is the same. I NEVER advocate wholesale life change without proper planning and careful decision making. You can clearly make a bad situation worse by diving off into the deep end of the pool before checking to make sure the draw string on your trunks is pulled tight.

I suggest a deliberate approach. Take one small step in a direction you think you’re interested in. Test it, try it and determine if it’s right for you (all the while continuing to invest in what you’re currently doing). Interested in photography? start taking pictures and sharing them with people. Interested in design? Take a class or download google sketch (it’s free) and start working up designs. Interested in programming computers? start learning a programming language (html is a good simple start). Don’t take huge leaps, take small baby steps. This isn’t about hitting home runs, this is about hitting singles.

Life is rarely run by huge leaps and bounds. Gladwell claims it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. I’m advocating a life investment process that works much like Taleb’s investing process. Invest 90% in solid SAFE investments (far more safe than anything you can imagine). Invest 40+ hours per week in your regular job, then invest the other 10% in risky highly speculative moves. Work on your novel, shoot your movie, start pursuing that new career that you think might really be your thing. The risk is definitely worth the investment. At worst, you’ll decide it wasn’t really for you. At best, you’ll find your new life direction.

Check out my ebook about figuring out your passion and what you want to do with your life

“I don’t know what to do with my life”

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Because of my job, I get to hear this response all the time from students and from friends. Usually, this statement is made with the underlying assumption that the person means that they don’t like whatever Job X they have and they would like to move on to Job Y. However, they don’t know exactly what Job Y should be, so thus they do not know “what to do with their life”.

Since I’ve had the exact same discussion in one form or another with many different people of different ages, I figured I would recount on my blog how these discussions usually go. Hopefully, this will help a lost soul to figure out what they want to do “with their life” or help someone who has heard this statement before to help another lost soul.

1) Stop complaining! No one likes to hear other people gripe about their job or their lack of life direction. Unless you’re 17 years old and have no income and no resources, complaining is extremely childish and indicates that you don’t actually want to do anything about your job search.

2) Instead of complaining, ask questions. ¬†Ask yourself, ask people who know you, ask people who work in the field, ask anyone. Good questions include: “what can i do with my major and/or experience?” “What do I like to do?” “What skill sets do I have?” Having some idea of what you are good at and what you like to do is a great start. Do not be vague and do not stop asking questions until you start getting real, concrete answers.

3) Take a step. Most of the people I know have some idea of what they’re good at, and some idea of some things they like, but they haven’t made that connection to a career path. For instance, the good communicator is stuck working at a computer screen all day in a dead-end job and doesn’t know how to get out. If you are stuck here, I advocate taking a step in one direction. Do you like photography? Buy a camera and start taking pictures. Do you want to be a nurse? Sign up for a CNA class. It doesn’t have to be a big step, but just take A step – this will do two things, it will take your mind off of this stuck feeling you have at the job/career path you hate and help you to figure out if this is something you want to pursue. Let me make one thing clear – I do NOT advocate large scale life change unless you are SURE this is the right direction for you. Don’t quit your job to start your own business unless you’ve laid all of the groundwork before hand. “Trust in God, but row away from the rocks”.

It’s a start. Trust me though, there are bigger things in life than your career – don’t let it drag you down too far.

“Right now this is just a job. If I advance any higher in this company, then this would be my career. And well, if this were my career I’d have to throw myself in front of a train.” Jim Halpert (the office)

Check out my ebook I wrote on this topic!