How to find your passion | Best career advice

One thing I would have done differently 20 years back | Success with happiness

“Follow your passion, not your paycheck.. The money will come eventually” – Unknown

Most of us have spent our entire life completely unaware of the much talked about “passion” within hence engaging otherwise to earn a livelihood. This causes stress and unending quest for change, however, the situation remains the same for most of us causing more stress.

We have heard such statements time and again and do believe them to be true however it is easier said than done, for the most difficult part is to know what is your passion. 

So how can I alter the situation? or if I had a chance to do one thing differently 20 years back what would it be?. In two simple steps, I’ll try to explain what I think one must do in order to identify his/her passion and build a successful career around it. 

But first I must warn that it is easier said than done and hence a due time and thought must be given to complete these steps. Some other points one must also remember are:

  • Believe – that by finding and following your interests(not somebody else’s) will lead to success and happiness
  • Start as early as possible, preferably even before deciding on the college and course. If you’re already on the job, do nonetheless. It can help you to do course correction if required.
  • Spend due time and energy on the exercise, take help from people who know you/some coach etc. – What can change the course of your life needs at least a week of brainstorming and hard work.
  • Be honest and objective – There is no point in boasting, especially when the listening party is you only.

Having cleared that, let’s get to the point and discuss the two steps in detail. These two steps basically cover the “how and what” of following one’s interest, they are :

  • How do I identify my passion? – Skill/will matrix
  • What to do after identifying? – Road to a successful and happy life.

How to Identify my passion? – Skill-Will matrix

The process is very simple. Sit down in a quiet room and deliberate, seek help from people close to you such as spouse, friends and siblings. The objective of the deliberation should be :

  • List down all the activities you like or dislike however small they are – remember career can come out of anything even as small as cooking breakfast at home(Some of the best you-tubers are cooking or eating food). Cover as many as possible and rate them in order of likings separately for both the categories. Starting with 1 mark for least liked the activity and so on.
  • Order the above activities as the one you are good at and rest you’re not good at. Again be objective in your assessment. Although one would like to project himself to be good at many things but as pointed out earlier no point in lying to yourself especially when it is about making life-changing decisions. You may again rate them in order of skill level for both the categories separately just like above.
  • Put each of these activities in the four boxes of the Skill-Will matrix and analyze the boxes.  see illustration below:

Size of the dot represents the multiplication of skill and will ratings under each box.  

Inferences from the SkiWi matrix 

Each of the boxes will help you understand yourself better and will also help you plan your future in a more meaningful manner. Let’s try and understand each of the boxes in detail:

Red Zone | I don’t like neither have skills: These will prove to be a disaster of career option for you and chances of success will be very low. One should never enter them as a career option whatever the temptation as they’ll only create stress. in the long run For e.g. If Social interaction is one of the activities in this zone, you should not take up PR as a career because 1. You don’t have the skills and 2. You’ll have very little chances of acquiring them as you don’t have the will for it(smaller the size of the dot, more you’re likely to fail and have stress). Similarly, if planning is the activity, you should not take up event management or finance as a career.

Hobby Zone | I like but lack skills: If you really like something but don’t have the skills, you have better chances of acquiring them and turning them into good career options in the long run. Hence if you like gardening but don’t know how to, take up a weekend course to learn. This is less likely to create stress and at the same time has the possibility of becoming a future source of income.

2nd Income | I am an expert in but don’t like: If you have some expertise in an area not of your interest and at the same time have not yet found your passion. This can be a source of second income for you till the time you really find your success. For e.g., If you’re good at teaching you can look for online teaching opportunity on weekends. Remember, spend only 4-5 hours a week only so that it does not cause stress.

Green Zone | Best career option | I like what I’m good at: This is what one should be striving for. Identify areas which not only the biggest interests but where skills are also the best. If one chooses any of these areas as a career option (job or entrepreneurship), the chances of success are relatively very high compared to others and with substantially higher satisfaction

Having understood the matrix and your calling in life, the next step is to create a meaningful plan of action with this matrix. Here’s what you need to do :

List down career options: Spend some time to list down all the relevant options w.r.t. the items placed in the Green zone and hobby zone. Make sure that you make a detail list and include all the possible options. For e.g. if the item is “Petcare”, you should list down all the possible career options related to “pet-care” such as dairy-farming, breeding, training and grooming etc. You may take the help of other people. Since you like each of these items, they can be good career options for you provided you have skills. Rank them as per your likings.

Research the topics individually: Assess where do you stand against each of these items for your level of skill. You should also research what skill is required and where to get them. If there is anyone with whom you can talk to and get the practical knowledge. For e.g., if you narrow down on Dog breeding, identify sources where you can get the training and also people who are already in this trade to understand the nuances. Develop yourself to be an expert in this field and it will be easy because you like this and hence will do it passionately. Since the desired passion can come from either the green zone of the hobby zone, you should devote sufficient time on both.

Course correction: If by any chance your current employment falls in the red zone, you should immediately devise a course correction plan and move to either of green of hobby zone. Failure to do so is inviting future stress and failures. 

Have a second income: Prudent financial planning demands a second income source other than your regular job. You can choose the option from the relevant zone. There are umpteen online options in case you’re already an expert in any field. Initially, you may earn less however with continuation the earning will increase and so will you financial independence till you start earning from your real career option.

It s a simple yet powerful tool for planning a happy and successful life. Having said this, each step of this tool demands time, energy and honesty to complete it. If done right this tool will definitely serve its purpose.

All the best

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