“It hurts worse to fail at something you don’t even care about than it does to fail at something you love,” he told me one night over dinner. Here I was, a 23 year old woman, wide eyed and ready to start my career. I couldn’t wait to begin making my own money, become independent, and show the world all that I could do.
There was just one problem. I had no clue what that something was. I felt lost, hopeless, confused. What was it that I really “loved” to do?
This is the question that I think sits on a lot of kid’s minds. If we are fortunate enough to be raised by well-meaning parents, then they probably told us we should just follow our dreams. This was always so confusing to me. I had a lot of dreams! There were a ton of things that I wanted to do.
How was I supposed to pick just one?
Not wanting to make a mistake, I just started somewhere. I took a job in finance and found it fascinating. I loved learning about exchange rates, the federal reserve bank, and everything in between. It was a fast-paced work environment and I felt like my job was very important. However, after a year of doing the same thing every day– I was bored. I wasn’t challenged and I stopped looking forward to going to work. I also noticed that I didn’t care about learning more about LIBOR, accounting, and anything that had to do with brokers.
That was when I knew it was time for a change.
The universe sent me another job opportunity right around that time, in marketing. It sounded more fun than finance, so I said, sure. I got started and before long, I realized I was in LOVE with marketing. The job was what I would imagine owning my own business to be like. I got to touch all aspects of the business – product development, sales, manufacturing, advertising, accounting, and more. It was challenging and exciting at the same time. I started to learn about why people buy certain things and not others, and I looked forward going to work every day. I started to come alive. As crazy as it sounds, over the weekends, I couldn’t wait to get to work on Mondays – it was so much fun.
Being at work made me feel like I had come home. My co-workers were people I enjoyed spending time with. They were like me – goal driven with bubbly, friendly personalities. I knew I had landed on the right career.
Here’s the thing. When we start to pay attention to how we feel – and specifically around whether or not something feels fun - that is the signal that we are in the right or in the wrong direction.
So pay attention to what is fun for you – if it is something creative like art or dancing or if it is something like writing or solving complex problems. Pay attention to what you naturally gravitate towards and find out if there is something in the world that supports your interests.
One other thought. There are going to be a ton of things that you enjoy. You will have many different interests. That doesn’t mean that you are lost or confused – it just means that you are interested in life. That’s a good thing.
Even if you choose a career that doesn’t exactly feel like something you LOVE to do, you can find ways to practice it where you are.
Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you are in accounting but you secretly daydream about being a therapist when you are sitting in yet another boring meeting. Instead of quitting your job tomorrow and throwing all of your hard accounting career work out the window, try this instead. Be at work and pretend you are already a therapist. Take the time to get to know your co-workers, learn to listen to them closely and see if you can offer some objective advice or solutions on how to deal with their problem.
Just start from where you are.