If you and I ever engage in some career coaching together, let me give you a preview of the first question I’ll ask. I ask it every time and have found the answers to it to be the most revealing:
“If money were no object, and you had no outside expectations from family and friends, what would you do for a career?”
That question is money. Why? Because more often than not the answer is exactly what you should be doing.
Now for some, it may take a little digging. For example, I had a friend answer that recently by saying that he’d be playing on the beach all day. When questioned further, he realized that he would like that for about a month and then would feel the need to contribute something to society. His second answer — I would help people experience the outdoors — is what he would actually want to do and, it turns out, there are thousands of people that do just that for a living (see: outdoor adventures, tour guides, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education).
The other reason that question works is because it removes from the equation the main two things that will stop you from doing what you love: money (or fear of not being able to make any if you follow your passion) and expectations (or fear of what others will say when you follow your passion).
This is important because money will come if you do what you love (although maybe not on your timeline and perhaps not in boatloads delivered to your front door in wheelbarrows) and expectations of others don’t really matter all that much because most of those people also don’t like their jobs.
I used to begin my presentations about career by asking that question and then saying, “Let me save you some time. Go do whatever you answered.” People would chuckle and some would think I was smarmy.
The reality is, if you set your sights on doing whatever it is that you answer — and focus less time complaining about your job and more on figuring out how to make money doing that thing — you’ll find that the gap between your answer and reality isn’t all that far.
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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