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Insights: How to Find Your True Passion

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Photo credit: Natasa Adzic / Shutterstock.com

 

Ask the Expert! Through WISE Insights, connect with knowledgeable experts to receive honest and thoughtful answers to your career-related questions, or read about challenges your peers are facing.

Question

Submitted by: WISE Atlanta member | 6-15 years professional experience

I am struggling with finding my true passion is. Where do I start?

Answer

Self-Assessment

Let me ask you a couple of questions to self-assess:

  • Are you looking to career transition by casting a wide net, or are you exploring a change between two careers (for example, between marketing and law)?
  • Have you contemplated your passion before, only to retreat or talk yourself out of exploring things further?

Depending on where you are in your exploration and where you are planning on heading, here are some tips.

If you are in the “exploring” state of mind:

  • First, don't quit your day job just yet. There will be some work ahead if you want to follow through with exploring your passion and where it will take your career - you'll have plenty of time! There are career professionals who realized mid-career they wanted to go to law school, become a nurse, or transitioned from practicing law to teaching on the college level because it was more satisfying. Of course, you may want to stay in sports marketing, but work for a non-profit group, or stay in human resources but work as an advocate for an athlete union.
  • Consider taking a career assessment, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator which measures temperament, personality, and affinity to career exploration and development. Websites like Truity or Career HMO offer additional (free) quizzes that help narrow down or focus your investigation.
  • Another option is Career Vectors System (available on Amazon) which can help you explore careers you like and/or are good at, or a newer version of current career choices including the expanding options of technological careers. These assessments are also available through your college alumni office or career counselors.(Visit NDCA to find someone if you don't have a direct referral)

If you're considering starting a new business:

  • Websites like Forbes or Careerealism will offer you quick notes or checklists to take you to the next step.
  • Ask yourself what your current priorities are: income needs, family plans, retraining (short term or extended) relocating or staying put, societal or spiritual goals.
  • Also to consider: Do you have the can't-miss startup company idea?

A 360-degree Discussion

After your investigation, look at what you feel you're good at and compare to the realities of your self-assessment. Add a “temperature reading” — what do you want to do, love to do? What makes your eyes light up when you think about it or talk about it? What are you good at may not always be what you should do — maybe you’ve already done that? Ask friends and colleagues in a 360-degree discussion (one where feedback comes from members of your immediate work circle, including subordinates, colleagues, and peers and a self-evaluation) and get some helpful feedback or additional resources and contacts to research or meet. I've found this is more effective if you give them some parameters of what you've learned about yourself rather than only "What do you think I'm good at?” or “What do you think I would enjoy next?"

Finally, commit to taking the next action steps, whether joining LinkedIn groups, participating in WISE Within mentoring, joining professional organizations, or continuing your education and training (pre-med classes, or shadowing or interning). This should give you a realistic timeframe of transition to the next stages and passions of your professional life.

Lauren Gordon

About Lauren Gordon

Lauren Gordon, Career Counselor at Career Transition for Dancers, provides counseling, group programs, seminars and training. A psychotherapist, EAP consultant and career counselor in private practice in New York City, Lauren serves the arts, sports and other communities. She is on the program committee of Career Development Specialists Network and has written about career transition, including a chapter on athlete career transitions in "Applying Sport Psychology."

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