From a young there is a ‘pressure’ to find your thang. THE thing that is yours, and yours alone. The thing that means you wake up every day longing to do it, and have to force yourself to sleep at night because you are so busy in the throes of passion that is not of the bedroom variety. When you are really little you are allowed to dream. The adults ask ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ and you are allowed to say anything you want.
Of course your knowledge of what is available to you is limited to ‘unrealistic’ jobs, like an astronaut or pilot, actor, or dancer, to the traditionally ‘professional’ roles of a teacher, a fire fighter, a police officer, a doctor or lawyer. Whatever you say to your elders at this point is likely to be met with encouragement. This kid has ambition, they think, and who am I to crush their dreams with the harsh realities of working life…and if you were a really intuitive kid you may have noticed how they stared off wistfully into the nothingness of their old dreams, but probably you had already turned back to the amazing game you just made up, living the life of imagination and magic, owning a business, building forts or clubs, making perfume with roses, painting your next abstract number or writing a play.
Fast forward a few years and the pressure starts. The teachers say you must have an idea; you think you have no idea. Your parents are worried you’ll end up on the dole; you’re worried you’ll end up like them. Your friends all seem to know where they are going; you want to go and hide under the duvet.
Fast forward a few more years – you followed the traditional path, the path you ‘should have’ taken (according to those who came before you, instilling their fears of the harsh reality of life onto you). You did good, so why don’t you feel fulfilled? Why do you still think you are searching for that moment, the aforementioned light bulb moment?
The truth of the matter is that a career is anything you want it to be. Gone are the days of staying in one profession until you are retired for that gold watch photo opportunity, but with opportunities comes overwhelm. If you are feeling unfulfilled and restless, confused and frustrated it’s time to start getting clear…because this is definitely not the life you ordered when you were a child.
So here are three ways to find what you love…and do it.
1) Experiment – before you start with the excuses that include time and money, remember this, if it is important you will make the time and find the money. You know when you really need a holiday, or a car, or to pay that bill…you can fight it all you want, but the money comes, and the only thing you have done is create stress in getting it.
So, experiment. If there are things you love work out how you can start a ‘play’ project. Just for 30 days do something every day towards one thing of interest. In a year you would have experimented 12 times and be a whole lot clearer about what you like, and what you don’t like. Yes, this isn’t a quick fix, but the time will pass anyway – isn’t it better that it passes with you taking action towards where you want to be, than going round in circles in your head?
2) Ask people – ask the people who know you best to describe you in three words, and ask them what they think you are best at. Be prepared, whatever they tell you may include some surprises, so always say thank you – do not do this if you are not prepared to have feedback!
3) Reflect back and compare – as a general rule, comparison is the thief of joy, but that is information for you, so spend some time learning from it. Whose lives do you envy and why? What do they have that you want? Looking back, what did you love and not like so much/ downright hated in past employment, or even when you were day dreaming as a child; did you like to make, create, talk to people?
So above are three ways to find what you love…they are by no means the only ways, but they can help you gain clarity around what you love. The final step is yours to take and in the words of Nike, just do it! Pick one thing and give it 100%, give it the focus and commitment you deserve…yes, it may grow, develop and evolve into something else completely, but starting is key…so whether that is applying for jobs in a new area, or starting a new business, give it your all, explore it with curiosity and meet challenges with excitement. In the end, you will ignite your own spark.