How To Find Your Passion & Design a Career You Love

Contributed by Ivana

Many of us are making a trade-off between earning enough money to pay the bills and doing the work that inspires and fulfills us. What you might not realize is that there is a way to design your life so that you can do the work that you love without sacrificing a paycheck.

Some people just know what their passion is. Many of us are not so sure. We may be really good at many different things, so it’s hard to choose one. Maybe we never quite experienced a state of flow — at least not consciously. Or if we have an idea of what our passion is, other people may have discouraged us in the past, saying things such as “it’s not realistic,” so we pushed our needs and passions to the side, and became discouraged. Some of us may even be embarrassed to admit to others what we want, let alone go for it. We make our passion our hobby instead, or a side business, and we treat it as such — this thing that’s always in the background, that we never really fully go for and commit to.

So what is the solution? Two things need to happen:

  1. You’ll need to identify your passion and bring it to light so that you are fully aware of it, can acknowledge it and clearly articulate it.

  2. Make sure your conscious mind and subconscious mind are working together. Your goal has to feel real and doable so that your conscious mind won’t talk you out of it. You have to be confident that you have the skills and resources to make your passion your job. You also have to be sure that it can pay your bills. If your goal feels too out of reach, it won’t work.

The key to achieving this is to define the sweet spot where your passion, your skills and your ability to pay the bills intersect. When all boxes are ticked, it will be easier to stay on track and to believe that you really can make change happen. This can be done through a combination of three things: Mindfulness meditation, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Design Thinking.

Mindfulness Meditation

For those who haven’t been able to identify their passion, there is good news: your subconscious mind really is bigger and greater and more powerful than you think. It has all the answers. It knows what you like, and what makes you feel alive. You just have to bring it to the surface. Guided visualization/meditation is a great tool that can help with this. As your physical body starts to relax, and your conscious mind quiets, your subconscious can come through. Once in a state of calm and relaxation, we can start to ask the subconscious mind some questions, like:

  • What would the perfect career look like?

  • Imagine you had a magic wand, went to sleep, and the next morning, everything was the way you want it to be — what would that look like?

A guided meditation would prompt you to explore all the sensory details — where you are, who you are with, what are you doing, what the environment around you looks like, and how you feel. All you need to do is let the information come to you. This is typically followed by a reflection exercise that involves free flow writing that opens up communication with your intuition and your subconscious mind.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

We can use principles of NLP to identify what is already working in our career and build on it. We shift our perspective and look at our life from the 3rd point of view, so we are a bit more detached from our experience and are able to see the big picture. We allow more information to come into our awareness, so we can make connections. We look at areas of our life that are working for us. We identify the skills and resources we already have within us. We pinpoint situations from the past where we felt engaged and effective and valuable. Then we can become more aware of the similarities and differences between those experiences, and what we are faced with now. We explore what needs to be true for us when we are doing something we love, we build on it and apply it to the problem at hand. What if I asked you “If you were not at work, who would notice and what would they miss?” This simple question prompts you to think about your value beyond your job description, focusing on the positive things about the work you are currently doing. How else do you do contribute to your coworkers’ experience at the office? And what about outside of work, what do your family members and friends come to you for? We look outside of the confines of our jobs to find the clues about things we love and things people value most about us.

Design Thinking

Finally, we use Design Thinking to come up with new ideas and possibilities. From mind mapping exercises that allow us to brainstorm to smart questions that connect the dots we never thought about connecting, to sketching exercises that make us engage other parts of our brain. There really is an art to asking the right questions at the right time. The right questions lead to the right answers. The “garbage in, garbage out” philosophy applies here: shitty input (i.e. question) equals shitty output (i.e. answer). The key is to ask the type of questions that prompt you to uncover new patterns and insights about yourself. Make the question too narrow, and it becomes prescriptive and your answers are obvious. Make it too wide, you’ve lost focus. If I asked you “What is, for you, mankind’s most interesting problem?” your answer could lead you to a new business idea that is appealing to you. How do I know it would be appealing? Because I’ve asked you about something that is “most interesting” to you.

The idea is to challenge the assumptions you’ve made to date and to get out of your story. When you step outside of your current experience, let more information in, you gain new awareness, and you can rewrite your story in a way that opens up more choices and new possibilities. The answers are already within you. With the right guidance, you can let them surface.

So, are you ready to uncover your passion and design a career you love?

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