Over the years, I have pretty much remained constant about following your passion when making career choices, but today, I’m having a small change of heart regarding the whole passion thing. While I still believe that following your passion to pick your career is critical in your path to success, I have also realized that sometimes our passions are not realistic and in some cases, not sustainable in the bigger picture.
As an example; From approximately 2007 until early 2015 Alberta’s economic advantage was the production of oil but here we are in 2016 and that economic advantage has vanished. I’m guessing that when the oil and gas industry was reaping rewards, the people who followed their passion of working in the industry, as a means to significantly increase their personal finances was the ideal situation for their employment goal. But now they are left scratching their head and wondering…Why was that my passion? I could have chosen to be a firefighter, cop, dentist, doctor, lawyer or any number of professions that are sustainable careers, but no, I chose oil and gas and now I’m stuck.
One more example; a person who graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and Finance, works for 4 years as an accounting analyst and realized that he hates being in an office environment pushing papers. He knows he has plenty of other soft skills to use in a different occupation but has never worked in a more labour intensive profession or taken the opportunity to network with anyone outside the accounting field, in order to find out what other options he has, thereby forcing him to start over.
While starting over isn’t the end of the world, wouldn’t it be better to build on what you already know? I call this your “Gold.” Through your work history, various contacts and connections, your education, experience, knowledge and training, somewhere along the way, you probably found something you excel at or even enjoy. Maybe you haven’t quite pinned down what that is, which by all indication means you need to ask yourself this question; when you were doing your job every day, what task did you excel at or enjoy more than the rest? Once you have narrowed that down, your next step should be to start connecting the dots between the following:
- What you already know, excel at and enjoy
- What other people think your strengths are and what you excel at
- Ask your boss, associates, colleagues, co-workers, friends and family for their feedback
- Read your last performance review
- Where you can apply your strengths and talents that is both meaningful and realistic, for now and in 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years from now
- Do some research on the occupations that interest you
- Connect with and interview people in those occupations for more insight (Networking is key!)
In gauging how you move through the questions above, it would be wise to stop thinking outside the box and just break it. Yes, that’s right, BREAK THE BOX! Now, I’m not talking about reinventing the wheel, but rather replacing a few spokes and destroying the box that holds you back from following your gold. GOLD isn’t just about the financial benefits in the career you choose, it is also about growth, sustainability and personal fulfillment. In addition, successful people don’t become successful by following the rules (the rules being the proverbial box), they become successful by taking risks, failing often, and trying again by either adding or replacing the spokes in the wheel. Furthermore, successful people do not become successful overnight, they cultivate success, they nurture success, they network for success and they continuously improve upon their success through trial and error.
Now, go follow your GOLD! Start with what you know and create something meaningful and realistic, then build on that but be prepared for both the success and the failures that come along with it. And just in case you need a little more inspiration, GOLD is also an acronym… (just because I love acronyms)
Be thankful and show appreciation to others for their efforts in assisting yours. People will help you along the way, all you have to do is ask.
Seize opportunities that align with your interests, expertise, personality, beliefs and values and accept your challenges as opportunities to improve your success.
Every day you have a chance to learn something new, take that chance! Life isn’t about sitting on the sidelines waiting for something to happen, it’s about learning how to expand your potential.
Your success relies on your ability to dedicate your time, efforts, strengths, talents and expertise to building what you envision.