There’s a lot of talk about finding your life’s passion. Webinars and books abound but everyone has a different path to finding a career passion.
How about you?
Should you pursue your passion?
Do you know your passion?
Are you experiencing the joy of using your strengths daily in your work and knowing the exhilaration that comes from knowing you are doing what you are meant to do?
For those of you who don’t relate, I understand. I didn’t truly discover what I was best at and what my passion was until 5 years ago, some twenty-five years into a career that was successful by most people's standards.
Nobody should wait that long.
And that’s why I do what I do as a career coach.
In discovering your best career options and what to do in your next career chapter, you need to answer these questions:
What do you most love to do more than anything else? If you are currently working, what do you like most about your job? What are you really good at?
What do you not like to do? What do you avoid? If you are currently working, what are the things you struggle with and don’t do as successfully?
Do you prefer to work with people, data or objects? Again, if you are working, think about what brings you satisfaction—is it when working with others, analyzing data and problems or working with your hands?
Real life examples
Sandra—Investment broker with a love for horses
Sandra, armed with an MBA from an Ivy League College, interned at, and then worked in her father’s investment firm. After ten years, she launched her own office and relocated across the country, continuing to be successful in her career while raising a family. A painful divorce and empty nest were the beginning of a decade of questioning her life. She loved working with her clients, and especially educating them on financial investment principles. She often was invited to client family weddings and found that she was more fond of the customer relationship part of her job than the actual investment analysis and decisions managing wealth.
Sandra came to me in early January after promising herself a “happier new year”. To her, that meant exploring a different career. She completed several career assessments and exercises and said she had never considered some of the questions asked in the assessments. She added “I had so many ‘aha’ moments” that she printed out the results and highlighted her findings. She also shared that her childhood dream was to become a veterinarian and care for horses. I encouraged her to explore that and a couple of other interests that were piquing her curiosity.
A few months later we met again and Sandra had identified two colleges which offered a veterinarian technical training. She said she realized that she did not want to commit to six years to become a vet; however, she wanted to pursue this training so she could help a vet or volunteer her time. She also had decided to sell her practice and apply to two of the largest financial investment companies as a manager of customer relationship. I helped her finalize her resume, her Linkedin profile and develop a strategy to showcase all her transferrable experience from being an entrepreneur to working for a corporation. A few months later, Sandra was offered a position, moved to the northeast corporate headquarters and found an equestrian vet who welcomed her volunteering as she began her coursework.
Stephanie—Elementary teacher whose “second home” was a museum
After having taught six year olds for twenty years, Stephanie was conflicted; she loved the interaction with youngsters but was fed up with all the administration recently introduced to her as a teacher. When I asked her to close her eyes and imagine herself in a perfect role, she gave it no time. “I have always seen myself as either a librarian or as an educator in a museum and teaching children.” She explained this with a big grin on her face. In every discussion I had with Stephanie, her love for children and teaching always came through—loud and clear. She is not the type of person who feels comfortable to make a drastic career change but, rather, a career shift.
We searched Linkedin and the job boards to locate a museum educator position and quickly discovered several. We then customized Stephanie’s resume so it would be keyword rich and achievement based. Fortunately Stephanie could relocate so when the recruiter called and invited her to interview for a recently opened children’s science museum on the west coast, she had no hesitation. A year later, she emailed me to tell me she loves her new life.
If you are thinking about making a career change or shift, start by discovering yourself. We usually don’t take the time to think about what we would love to do, what we are good at or what our childhood dreams were. Indulge your inner child and ask her or him what it is that you should be pursuing.