How To Find Work That You Are Truly Passionate About
There are times in your life where you are not passionate about your job and you seriously wonder if you’re on the right career path; whether your job – or the industry you’re in – is actually fulfilling in any way. Many 20-somethings experience doubts and worries about their professional life (among many other aspects of their life). It’s known as the quarter-life crisis. It involves this sense of being trapped in a job that is routine, mundane, meaningless and not conducive to one’s wellbeing. However, the quarter-life crisis can be hugely positive, as it offers a chance for reflection. It may create an uncomfortable period of anxiety and indecision. You don’t know if you will ever figure out what you want to do; and even if you do, how to make it happen.
But as you consider and digest all of the varied (and sometimes drastic) plans in your head, the turmoil of indecisiveness may settle, leaving you with a clear idea of the next step in your career. In order to find this calm after the storm, however, it is first necessary to establish what kind of work you are truly passionate about; and not just vaguely interested in or successful at.
It’s difficult to be passionate about something, and in turn motivated, about a job that you find meaningless. So what determines whether a job is considered meaningful or not? Well, findings show that many jobs (e.g. fashion designer or TV newscast director) may involve autonomy, variety and challenge; yet most people (90%) who hold these jobs find that they lack meaning.
The single most reliable determining factor of meaning is whether you’re in a job makes a difference in the lives of others. In this respect, jobs that are highly meaningful to essentially everyone who holds them include: adult literacy teacher, fire chief, midwife and addiction counsellor.
But this doesn’t mean that if your job lacks meaning you have to pursue a completely different role. Some jobs don’t have a major impact on others. However, Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski highlights that people think their roles are more fixed than they actually are. She promotes the idea of job crafting , which involves adding, emphasising, revising, delegating or minimising tasks and interactions in order to generate more meaning.
Effective altruism – the social movement based on using evidence to make the most difference in people’s lives – offers advice on which careers can make the most impact.
Finding potential in your hobbies
Another way to find a job that you are passionate about is to consider whether your hobbies have the potential to be monetised and thus transformed into a career. Landing your first sale or client is a huge motivating factor when it comes to turning your hobby into a business. Even if this involves a commissioned piece of artwork for a friend or acquaintance, your first sale will prove that people recognise that you are highly skilled at your hobby.
Personally, I have always enjoyed the process of writing: conveying, contrasting and synthesising ideas, reshaping my perspective, and being open to feedback and criticism from others. This is why I started blogging, even though there was no financial reward involved. Getting paid to write, however, seemed like a pipe dream. That was, until, I landed my first writing gig. And it was this that gave me the confidence to pursue writing as a career.
The most effective way to monetise your hobby is to dedicate as much time as you can on developing it, whether it be in painting, writing, stand-up comedy, volunteering, martial arts, cooking, music etc. Create a realistic schedule so that you can maximise time spent on your hobby, without getting burnt out while juggling a full-time job and other responsibilities. And while you may become highly talented and skilled at your craft, you will only get the attention you deserve if you promote yourself, in both your online presence and with networking.
It’s completely normal to feel stuck and stifled in your job. Oliver Robinson, Senior Lecture in Psychology at the University of Greenwich’s School of Health & Social Care, carried out research on the quarter life crisis, which he founds lasts for about two years. He identified four stages of the crisis. The first is the panicky stage. The second is the recognition that change is possible. The third is rebuilding a new life. And the fourth is cementing commitments that reflect new interests, ambitions and values.
It’s crucial to understand that change is possible if you are passionate about something. You may feel trapped, with the sense that you’ve committed yourself to career path, with no way to steer yourself in a different direction. Nevertheless, Robinson emphasises that this feeling is a signal – and can be a catalyst – for constructive change.