If you’re well into your career but still aren’t really sure what you want to be “when you grow up,” join the mid-life career crisis club! Here are three ways to help you discover your heart’s content.
1. Forget skill sets, think satisfaction.
In her book, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, career guru Barbara Sher points out that finding your passion is more than just figuring out what you’re good at. Reflecting on her own life as a single parent, Sher realized she was clearly “skilled” at raising two children and managing a home on a tight budget. But did she love it? “You live the good life not by doing what you can do,” Sher learned, “but by doing what you want to do.”
2. Pay attention to both past and present-day clues.
In his famous interview with Bill Moyers, renowned mythology scholar Joseph Campbell said, “The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy – not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy.”
The first place to search for clues to your present day passion is in your own childhood. I once read about a man, who, as a young boy loved to make sand castles. Guess what he does for a living now? He runs a company that travels around the world making elaborate sand sculptures for ocean-side special events!
What about today? What so engrosses you that you scarcely notice the time? Is it watching NASCAR racing? Gardening? Tinkering with a broken toaster? Surfing the Internet? Exploring a museum? Traveling? Helping a friend work through a problem? Tracing your family history? Organizing a closet? Working with children? Get a small pad of paper or dedicate a section of your organizer to your passion. As something new hits you, add it to the list.
Still stumped? Try making up your own “I’d rather be__________” bumper sticker. Would you rather be following sports, writing poetry, gardening, shopping, fixing things, fishing, watching reruns of your favorite childhood shows?
3. Enlarge your view.
One of the best way to expand your thinking – and your options – is by stepping outside the confines of your day-to-day life. Consider signing up for a class on something entirely new to you like bookbinding, feng shui, woodworking, cooking, copywriting, small engine, or computer repair.
Try reading publications outside your typical areas of interest or expertise. If you usually stick to news or women’s magazines, pick up a copy of National Geographic, Antiques Monthly or Down Beat. Even if you don’t read a single article the advertisements alone will open your eyes to a multitude of fascinating ways to earn a living.
And remember, “When you love what you do,” says author and management guru Harvey McKay, “you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”