“Discover your work.” What does that even mean, right? It means figuring out what you are meant to do.
We grow up with messages that we are supposed to go to college, get a job, to save money. I do believe these are ideas of the past.
In our everchanging world, college isn’t always the best place to learn, redundancy doesn’t always lead to happiness and saving money for what exactly?
I’m not saying doing those things are negative. They can work for some and others they may not work at all. I coach a lot of people who are unhappy, in the wrong career and have these messages thrown down their throats when they vulnerably find their passions:
- “You need to play is safe”
- “You can’t change careers when you have a family”
- “You can’t change careers when you make so much money”
- Fill in here what messages you receive that quash any hope of finding your passion here.
All of these messages depend on each person’s circumstances. They cannot simply apply to a majority, they are seasonal and subjective.
A Job vs. a Career:
Let’s be clear first…
A job is something (task, group of tasks) that you do.
A career is a combination of jobs, skills, and achievements over time.
Most people confuse these two and so they are left pigeon-holing themselves into a “job.” When we talk about a “job” we limit the scope of our goals and ambitions, making it hard to discover your work when all you feel like you do is a job. Let’s use one of my past clients as an example. We’ll call him John to protect his identity.
John was CFO of a digital product company when we met. He started as an accountant for a well-known firm right out of college. He worked his way up and left for the next job with a bigger title and more money. Then he worked his way up in that company for more titles and promotions until he left for his then-current CFO role. At this point in his life, he was at the top. He was great at what he did. He made enough money that his wife could leave her job to pursue her own exercise company and he could send his kids to the best private schools in Manhattan.
But something was missing…I knew what it was immediately, but it took John about a month of coaching to get there and truly understand. He had everything someone could want…the title, 2 assistants, a happy family. He wanted to re-design his life, but what was missing?
John did all the right things and yet felt “stuck” all the time. He was irritable at home and irritable at work. He was missing his happiness. This took some time for John to get to know himself. Through coaching, we did a lot of work on John meeting himself for the first time and re-engineering what he wanted his life to look like.
He wasn’t used to thinking about his likes, interests, and what brought about happiness in his life. He was more used to following the rulebooks in his field of work and as he described, “playing the game” of company politics to help drive the numbers where they needed to go.
Do you have something you like to do that you are passionate about, but feel like it you cannot embrace it because of your job?
Careers aren’t always linear. They can bring you to different places with different jobs along the way.
To discover your work, you need to discover who you are and know yourself better than anyone else.
In John’s case, he discovered that he loved cooking. Although it wasn’t something he was doing at the time. In college, he enjoyed cooking for his roommates in their apartment, but as a CFO he was ordering dinner at the office and mostly ordering food for lunch…and grabbing breakfast on his way into the office. After all, he could afford it!
During our sessions, we developed a slow and steady plan for John to explore cooking. He took cooking classes nights and weekends, setting firmer boundaries, and delegating tasks at work. He started a side hustle as a personal chef on the weekends. First for friends to try it out, who then recommended his services to their friends.
John found that he could use his financial skills in many aspects of being a personal chef. He made forecasts of supplies and ingredients, could plan out seasonal menus for clients with detail, and obviously track his own sales and financial projections.
The journey to discover your work isn’t fast or easy. It takes time and effort to discover your strengths, weaknesses, and passion through trial and error. That’s why it’s a journey after all. John wouldn’t have made it to this point in his career without that first accounting job or his well-earned CFO role. He needed all of those experiences to get to this point.
Holding onto your Passion:
Eventually, John went from eating all meals out to eating all meals in. He was able to leave his CFO role and make more money doing what he loves. Scaling his personal chef company, he was able to add many other chefs like himself who cook for families all over the city. Now he gets to choose who and how often he cooks for others and uses his financial skills to manage the business. Amazing!
Take some time and think about your passions. What did you enjoy doing as a kid? What do you enjoy in your free time that you get lost in?
For me, it’s designing. Whether designing a blog post, a course curriculum, helping another design their life, or designing my own. It took all my education and life experience to get here and there were a lot of rocky points in the journey as there would be for anyone.
As the quote tells us…you have to work hard to discover your work and then hold onto that with all your heart. Keep that idea alive as you immerse yourself in it.