If you’re reading this article, you are probably giving some thought to how you can build a career that you can be more passionate about.
A great first step as you begin exploring the possibilities for a passionate career is identifying your building blocks. Take a look at the things that you have really loved doing over the course of your life and break them down into the reasons why.
When you say “I’m passionate about ———–,” or “I love doing ———–,” that’s not really the complete picture. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, what you really mean is “I love doing ———– because ———, ———-, and ———.”
You identify your building blocks by exploring those underlying characteristics. Having an understanding of those characteristics can open up a whole new world of potential.
It’s like an erector set for your career. Once you have the basic pieces, you can start taking a look at all the different things they could be when they come together.
Thinking about the “what” of the things we love doing tends to have a limiting effect. For example, let’s say you’re passionate about travel photography. OK, so what can you do with that knowledge? It seems to suggest one possible path — be a travel photographer.
Exploring the “why,” on the other hand, expands your horizons, providing the raw material to help you look further. It yields the building blocks that you can look at and ask, “what other kinds of opportunities incorporate those elements?”
So instead of “I’m passionate about travel photography,” dig into the reasons and find out that “I’m passionate about travel photography because it gives me a medium for exploration. And for discovery. It helps me constantly find new ways of seeing things. And it encourages me to connect with people in a way I otherwise wouldn’t.”
So the juice doesn’t just come from taking pictures in exotic locales. It comes from exploration and discovery, and connecting with people, and seeing things in new ways. For another person, it might be something else entirely.
You can also use those building blocks to evaluate existing opportunities. Let’s say you’re in the job search, and are trying to decide whether a particular job is a good fit for you. With your list of underlying characteristics of the things you love doing, you can take a look at that job opportunity and say, “Does it have these elements?” If not, it’s a pretty good bet that you won’t be happy there for the long term.
Your building blocks are there already — you just need to uncover them and put them to use. You may be surprised where they take you.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Curt Rosengren is a Passion Catalyst(sm), who helps people identify their passions and create careers that ignite them. He works with individuals, conducts workshops, and speaks on passion-focused topics. He also publishes PassionKey(sm), an online newsletter dedicated to helping you live your passion. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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