Of all the presentations and workshops I’ve given over the past few years, turning your passion into a career is one topic that has received the greatest response. Showing people how to follow their passion is one of my favorite things to do too, because the buzz in the room is palpable, people light up with excitement on the spot and within days I get a slew of emails and notes telling me in detail how their lives have already started to change. So for all who haven’t had a chance to see me speak in person, I want to share these valuable and actionable tips on how to make a difference in your career immediately!
1. Opportunity lies in every difficulty. Own this concept.
A bad attitude can be your worst enemy. It’s far too easy to feel defeated or depressed when things get difficult. You need to be your own biggest cheerleader, fire up your ambition to succeed and listen to you gut. If it’s telling you to get out of what you’re currently doing, or away from the path that you’re on now, listen carefully. Recognize the new opportunities presented by your challenges. They’re always in there.
2. Start by Tapping into Your Passion
It’s there, whether you recognize it or not. We’re all passionate about something – even if it doesn’t strike us as job or career worthy. Think about all of the things that get you fired up, excited, eager to act…write those things down. Ask close others to help add to the list. Sit with that paper for a few days. Add notes, details, and illustrations. Fill the page with things you love and are good at. Those are the best clues you’re going to get. You may need help to do this next part, but challenge yourself to translate what’s on that page into ways you might be able to channel those abilities or passions into some form of work.
3. Know that you always have options
Never tell yourself you’re stuck. You’re not. You have more options than you can even dream of. In fact you could spend your whole life researching them and still not uncover everything that’s possible. Challenge yourself to uncover 5 new opportunities for you this week, then another five next week. Brainstorm 10 or 20 with your friends or family if you’re really inspired. It’s an amazing exercise to do with a group. See the road ahead of you as an open one to do with as you wish. Get excited about having so many options. That energy will help you tremendously as you set out to pursue the ones that rise to the top of your list.
4. Shake up your environment and influences
If you’ve ever traveled internationally, you know that exposure to different cultures changes your perspective, often profoundly. Start to shake up your routine, influences, and contacts locally to expose yourself to new influences immediately.
If a more drastic career change is in order, think of it like adapting to a different country or culture. Consider everything you might do to visit a very different culture – all the research, talking to others who’ve been there, getting expert advice, seeing what people say online, etc. – and apply it to a new area or industry you’re contemplating. Your comfort level (and likely enthusiasm) will start to rise quickly.
5. Find the Blue Ocean
Competition can be daunting. And in this economy, it can be even harder to break free from the pack. Whether you’re fully employed, trying to get recognized for bigger opportunities, struggling to find a job when everyone seems to be looking, or fighting every day to build more business, there’s a fabulous concept you should know about. It’s called the Blue Ocean strategy, and it’s based on a book by that name. The concept is simple. Most people stick to small confined areas where they fight like mad to compete for the same pool opportunities or resources. The competition gets so fierce that it often gets bloody. However, the ocean is huge and vast and loaded with abundance. You just have to start fishing in the blue waters – where no one else is or few others have ventured.
Get out and discover what’s out there! Make a commitment to launch a serious expedition to uncover all sorts of new and exciting possibilities. Every day of every week holds opportunities to meet new people, attend events, sit in on webinars, sign up for newsletters, join organizations or fan pages and engulf yourself in the worlds that following your passions can open up to you. Keep exploring until you get yourself to that place.
7. What Makes You Different Makes You Special
You don’t necessarily need to be an expert in your area of passion. You don’t need to have years of experience under your belt to do something with it either. That can come. Take whatever it is that makes you different, unique, special, interesting, quirky or uncommon and turn that into a fascinating story of why you’re pursuing X. Share it with everyone you can.
Being just like everyone else is boring. Having some interesting story to tell on how you ended up in this new venture, pursuit or industry will make people curious about you. Then you just have to back it up with a fierce passion, evidence of wanting to do something about it, and the commitment to take it forward. Other people will respond to that. And if you’re learning on the go, share what you discover along the way and you could build fans, a following, exposure and soon enough, opportunities will start to present themselves!
8. Find others with shared values
Passion is driven by emotion, by a raw hunger to learn, pursue, explore, engage and exist in a special kind of euphoric state. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you really should. That’s the key to loving what you do. Others love the same things you love too and value the same things, ideals, and principles. Go find them. Online, offline, it doesn’t matter. Spend as much time as you can in these circles to fire you up and learn. So much starts to happen when you discover your sweet spot.
9. Opportunity comes in many forms. Not just jobs.
Don’t get stuck on finding a job. Or starting a business for that matter. There are lots of opportunities in between that can enable you to turn your passion into your work. I like to call this range the Complete Opportunity Spectrum. Sure, you can get a job doing X, but what about a project, a consulting opportunity, an internship, licensing a business, becoming a franchisee, partnering up with an organization, doing some temp work. Break away from the “get a job” mentality. There are lots of ways to make money doing just about anything…if you’re creative enough.
10. Map out your opportunities
A lot of industries and opportunities have a slew of resources dedicated to teaching people how to break into, get trained and launch a career or business in them. A simple Google search will tell you if that’s the case with whatever you’re passionate about. Just try “Getting a job in…” or “Starting a business in…” for starters.
Once you have your passion clearly identified, you really should create your own map of that universe. All the industries, companies, organizations, experts, educational resources, websites, etc. that are significant in any way to that one thing. We have a great exercise to help you do this, but you must take the time to build this out and I swear it will fast become one of the most enlightening activities you’ve done in your career. I do this with people everyday when speaking and consulting, and we even wrote about it in Secrets of the Young & Successful and blew out a whole exercise in Fast Track. But you can do it yourself. And the more detailed you make it, the easier your path to finding and pursuing what you really love for a living.