A successful career and the job of your dreams may or may not be the same thing. I was able to pay bills and build my retirement fund in my former position at an urban public school. I wanted to pursue my passion as a speaker and writer, but I did not believe I had the time, skills, or resources to change my career course.
A pivotal opportunity came to me in the form of a letter from the school district. The letter explained my job was axed as a result of downsizing. I knew this was the push I needed to take a leap of faith to explore other opportunities. I had no guarantees that ensured success; I only knew I had to try.
“Your life doesn’t just happen. Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you,” insisted Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. ”You choose success. You choose failure.” He added, “Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.”
- Remember What You Loved to Do as a Child. Your passions awaken in childhood, but they are often silenced by criticism or advice from others with good intentions who encourage you to pursue more practical venues that will create a stream of income as you enter adulthood. Their advice often evolves into your critical self-talk. What did you love to do when you were a child? What stimulated your sense of fun? Allow yourself to rediscover your passionate instincts.
- Consider Your Options if Money Was a Non-Issue. If you removed money from your career equation, what would you do? Would you travel? Find a job that allowed you to work with children? Would you start or work for a charitable organization? Income is important, but Zive insists, “Don’t let financial pressures dictate your choices.” She adds, “Your career should ultimately lead to financial security, but if financial security is the defining motivator, it’s unlikely you’ll end up doing what you love.”
- Ask Your Friends for Feedback. Zive maintains, “Sometimes you’re just not the best judge of what makes you happy.” She encourages you to talk to people who know and understand you. Allow them to tell you about activities and tasks that appear to make you happy
- Check Out University Course or Community Center Catalogs. College catalogs and community center activity publications offer a wide variety of classes and courses. You don’t necessarily need to immediately enroll in a course, but flip through the pages of a college course or community center catalog and ask yourself, “What would I study if I were enrolled in college?” “What classes appeal to me?” What courses do you think you could teach? Local community centers are eager for you to check out their classes and course offerings.
- Identify a Professional Role Model. Envy can be a good thing if you allow it to serve as a directional arrow. Who currently holds a position you would love? Many well-known entrepreneurs such as Napoleon Hill and Brian Tracy studied the behaviors of successful individuals and created profitable careers by practicing the habits of their professional role models.
Zive asks, “Whose career would you most want to emulate?” Learn as much as you can about your professional role models. What jobs did they hold before they landed an exciting career path? What challenges did they overcome? How did their personal journey guide them to their professional careers?
6. Identify Your Gifts and Talents. Zive invites you to write down your gifts and talents. “Narrow the list to the top three or four things,” she suggests. “Keep it handy, review it often, and use it as your jumping-off point when you’re plotting your career move.” Allow your strengths to help you make choices to move from where you are today to where you want to go on your career journey.
In my book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide, I provide resources that empower you with tools to transform a passion or idea into a plan of action, including this SKILLS & KNOWLEDGE CHART. Use this tool to (1) acknowledge information and skills you currently possess and (2) identify skills and information that will help you prepare for new roles in the future. This chart is available with more free resources on my website, DrJulieConnor.com.
7. Just Do It. “You won’t really know what you love to do unless you actually bite the bullet,” concludes Zive. “So, whether you take a small step like signing up for a class or you dive head-first into entrepreneurship, roll up your sleeves and do it. You’ll never know until you try.”
One way to help clarify careers that align with your gifts and talents is to complete this MY IDEAL JOB DESCRIPTION worksheet. It is a reverse of the typical job summary. Add a job title to your description after you fill in specific information about your skills, experiences, and qualifications. Use this tool to identify information about careers that spark your interest.
In this video, I explain how to use the MY IDEAL JOB DESCRIPTION worksheet to clarify your knowledge, skills, and career direction.
Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” When you discover your passion and actively use your gifts and talents in ways that set your heart on fire, your work and your passion explode into one united flame.
What career opportunities align with your gifts, talents, and passions?
What can you do today if you want to consider a job change?
Reconnect with what you love with these tips from How to Find Your Passion.
If you’re considering a job change, check out Transform Passion into a Career.
It’s never too late to pursue your passion. Read Pursue Your Passion (While Juggling School, Work, & Other Responsibilities).
Get clear about your direction with suggestions from What’s Your Dream?