Do What You Love (What is That?!?)
As starry-eyed freshmen and new grad students start coming back to campus, most of them can name a career path, but that's generally to keep their parents and spouses happy. I mean, seriously, do you know what you want to do when you grow up now??
The worst part is when people say "do what you love." What the heck does that mean?? I love my morning runs and occasional fishing, but I'm not going to get paid to do slow jogs around the park or lazy fishing. (I'm open to offers!) And some of the things my students appear to be passionate about would likely get them arrested if they did it for a living. (Just sayin'.)
So here's the dirty little secret: most people who love their careers stumbled into them. It's not so much about knowing your career passion when you're 20 (or even when you're 50 - my birthday was last week!). It's about stumbling through life as actively as possible to increase the odds of stumbling into something awesome.
You don't have to know the answers! You must, however, continually be looking for them. That means getting out there to experience new things, take risks, be uncomfortable, and see life from every possible angle and point of view until you stumble across the one that gets you excited. I absolutely love that the Designing Your Life authors are finally admitting things like this in a best-selling book!
Turn off Netflix and take classes in things you know nothing about. Join organizations that seem interesting to you. Volunteer to work with non-profits you find meaningful. And as you go along this journey, you'll find opportunities and career paths that you never would have considered otherwise.
The people I know who adore their jobs, myself included, never planned to be doing exactly what they're doing. But they worked hard at what they were doing, met as many interesting people as possible, learned as much as possible, and experienced as much as possible, to eventually create a path that was perfect for them.
So here's the downside: you still need to pay your bills. You don't have to always adore your job to have a fulfilling life. Often it can take a year or so for a new job to grow on you, so don't give up right away. (Seriously - life without a paycheck is usually worse than a little life in a dull job!) Often there are things to learn and opportunities to be discovered even in seemingly unfulfilling jobs. Just keep meeting people, building skills and finding new experiences until something better appears.
The key to career fulfillment isn't waking up one morning with a blinding insight into your career passion. If you're waiting for that to happen, you're going to be bored and unhappy for a long time.
The keys are to:
1. Work hard at what you're doing
2. Actively seek opportunities to learn and grow
3. Meet as many interesting people as possible
4. Discover new possibilities from these experiences and friendships
Do this, and I assure you, you will have an interesting and meaningful life that is full of passion, including your career!