Ask Yourself What You Really Want

October 5, 2015 |

This article previously appeared in Incomes Abroad, a monthly newsletter for people who want to fund their travel life brought to you by my friends at International Living magazine

When we were growing up, adults were forever asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But did anyone ever ask, “What do you want your life to look like?” Probably not.

You would have never replied, “I’d like to wake up to an alarm clock, battle traffic to get to a cubicle where I have to report to a micro-managing boss.”

Yet that describes the life of countless millions of people. Sadly we become so conditioned to the mantra to “get a good job” that we just accept whatever comes along with it. The good news is you really can find work you enjoy and live the life you love, too.

writingIt all begins with a simple question: “What do you want your life to look like?”

For starters, think about how you want to work. If your current job primarily requires sitting in front of a computer—what I refer to as “head work”—might you be happier working with your hands, your body, your heart, or some combination?

Do you want to work alone or would you be happier collaborating with others?

Where are you happiest working? Is it working from home…or from your laptop at a local café…or a sun-filled studio or workshop?

Would you love a livelihood that allows you to spend more time in nature?

I’ve been helping people who want to make the leap from having a boss to being their own boss for two decades now. Before I can even begin to show someone the ways they can turn their interests into income, I first need to get a clear picture of what they want their life to look like. That way we can ensure the ideas we do generate pass the all-important Life Test.

You may have no idea what you want to do work-wise, but with a little nudging I bet you can identify the lifestyle you want. Say, for instance, you know you want to live by the shore for half the year, spend three months Ask Yourself What You Really Want-Italyin the mountains, and enjoy your summers in Italy.

With just this limited information you now know you have two basic choices.

  • Create a portable business that can be run from any location, like freelance writing, coaching, consulting, or running an online business.
  • Create one or more profit centers that are location specific. For instance, you might offer a product or service that appeals to beach-loving tourists while at the shore and do something completely different while in Italy.

Once you’ve crystalized your vision of your ideal life it’s time to figure out the work part of the work-life equation. Here you want to consider three things; your gifts, your interests, and your assets.

Your Gifts

Notice I didn’t ask you about your skills or past work experience. That’s because your skills are what you can do and your resume reflects what you have done—and neither say anything about how happy you are doing them.

love_110003903-012814-intIn contrast, your gifts involve activities you’re good at and truly enjoy doing. After all, I’m pretty good at typing and mowing the lawn. But do I love either? Not especially.

And while another person might love to, personally I wouldn’t want to do either one for a living.

So what do you love to do? Is it working in a garden, setting up an Excel spreadsheet, doing woodworking, or tinkering with a broken toaster?

Can you spend hours tracking your family history, planning a trip, baking, or hunting down bargains? Write down a list of your favorites.

Often our gifts come so naturally to us that we scarcely notice let alone value them. Others often recognize your gifts long before you do. That’s why you should pay attention to compliments.

Your Interests

Your interests are things you feel passionate about. For instance, you may have a keen interest in NASCAR racing… climate change… learning about different cultures… health and wellness… social entrepreneurship… or the British royal family. Make a list of them.

Your interests may or may not engage your gifts. That’s fine because it’s a heck of a lot easier to acquire a skill than it is to adopt an interest in something that doesn’t ring your bell.

Ask Yourself What You Really Want-coach

Next review your list for any passive verbs like “watch,” “think about,” or “read.” If you want to turn your interests into income you need to convert passive activities into action-oriented ones like “consult/coach,” “speak about,” “write about,” “coordinate,” “research,” “build,” and so on.

Now return to the list of gifts you created above and look for ways these can be used to deliver some sort of interest-related product, service, or experience.

Are you comfortable with technology? You could create an app.

Or say you have a flair for writing. You could write a blog featuring inspiring examples of small businesses who are making a living in the NASCAR world… or pen a fun trivia book about the royal family.

Look for ways your gifts might intersect with other people’s interests. Maybe you love the idea of helping indigenous people earn more money from their arts and crafts? You could teach artisans from Ecuador, Nicaragua, Thailand, and elsewhere to sell more products.

Your Assets

Once you’ve identified your gifts and interests you should consider any “assets” that can be parlayed into income. Of course, the most obvious asset is real estate… and that can be used to earn rental income while you travel.

But what about hidden assets you could also rent out? Can you rent an extra room in your home for dry storage… as an office… or to a massage therapist? What about a woodworking shop? Do you have a boat you could timeshare to people who vacation regularly in your area?

Get creative! I once read about a couple who owned a struggling apple orchard. Everything changed when they began leasing individual trees to city folks who would visit at harvest time to pick fruit from “their” tree.

As you scope out ways you can profit from your passions, take a moment to make sure your idea passes the all-important Life Test. If the answer is yes, by all means, dive in!

And if you’re ready to take the leap in a really BIG way then I invite you to JOIN ME and your fellow freedom seekers at the…

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