What I’m really getting at is if they didn’t have to make a living and support their family, what would they want to do with the rest of their lives? Or put even another way, is there anything they are doing right now that absorbs their attention to the point that they lose track of time and forget to eat?
We all have the potential to feel that engaged and excited about something and it is my belief that we are happiest when we are devoting a good bit of our time doing that thing. And I further believe that you can even make a living and support your family while doing it!
I certainly am not saying that you should quit your day job right this moment, but you can lay the groundwork to make that a feasible option sooner rather than later. (If you know me, you know that I’m not a big fan of the “I’ll get to do what I really want when I retire.” plan.)
So first things first, do you know what you’re passionate about? If you don’t, I’ll ask you to be a bit of a time-traveling detective. What did you love doing between the ages of 9-11? Studies show that your childhood interests and talents hold clues to what would give your life its greatest sense of meaning and satisfaction today.
If you can’t remember, what ambitions did you set aside when you were younger because “you couldn’t make a living doing that”? What chance meetings stand out for you? What are some of the things that others have said about you that have stuck with you over the years?
Now imagine yourself saying “I feel excited (or strong, or purposeful) when I am…” Remember you are talking about something you are doing, not something that is happening to you.
There really are so many possibilities for finding meaningful, satisfying and lucrative work, but we often don’t see them because we have been conditioned to believe that life is made up of doing a lot of things we don’t want to do and working for money is chief among them. So the really important thing is to decide that you want to do the thing and stop worrying about if it is practical.
I recently read Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Crush It!” He has an interesting test for determining if you can “monetize” your passion. It consists of one question: Can you think of at least fifty blog topics that you’re excited to write about it? He feels that number of posts is the minimum you’ll need to give yourself enough time to get a feel for the situation.
He goes on to say that if you have indentified your true passion, you’ll find five hundred things to say about it. And people will want to hear – and pay to hear – what you have to say about it.
He contends that when you are doing what you truly love, even the smallest niche (he points to a woman who blogs about knitting and sells hand-dyed yarn) can sustain a nice forty-to-seventy-five thousand dollar-a-year business. Since that is what most of us make at our can’t-wait-till-Friday jobs, it sounds like a good deal to me!
Napoleon Rich, who wrote the classic Think and Grow Rich, offered a great series of steps to help you achieve your dreams and I’ve adapted them to include here.
1. Have a definite purpose, backed by a definite desire.
2. Create a definite plan expressed by definite action.
3. If you experience any negative or discouraging messages from others, try to understand that your desire is creating some discomfort for them – probably because they wish they were acting as boldly on their desires – and do not take it personally.
4. Have a friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage you to follow through with both plan and purpose.
One of my clients works in a foreign country and found lucrative work in translating documents, but she doesn’t love it. She has a background in teaching and really loves young children, but she also wants a lot of flexibility in her schedule to be with her young son.