Live to work or work to live? Most people have a strong opinion on this topic. I know it’s highly unlikely that everyone out there can go and find their dream job and love what they do every single day – but I’ve worked long enough in various jobs I detest to know that no one should be told it’s not worth trying for. If you find something you love, you should absolutely aim to do that thing everyday even if it’s just a hobby. If you’re lucky, your passion for that hobby might turn into a job without even trying.
Stop doing what you hate
It was really important for me to take time off from my day job to realise that I didn’t want to do it anymore. I know most people don’t love what they do, but I seriously didn’t enjoy the responsibility and stress that came with my job as a manager. It took its toll on my relationships, mental and physical health, and made me unhappy in so many ways that it went way beyond the usual ‘my job sucks’ kinda situation. Unfortunately I was so sick from work I had to take a lot of unpaid time off, but I urge others to take some holidays in general to have time for reflection. It’s too easy to take a week off to fly to a hot country, drink too much and then fall back down to earth with a bang when you return to work. Set aside some time to write down what you want from a job, or even just a hobby; anything that you think will give a sense of purpose to your days. Think about the things you enjoy when you’re off work. What do you look forward to? What could you see yourself doing? What could you do everyday that wouldn’t feel like a job, but instead something you jump out of bed for and have to do? I know that writing is perfect for me because my ideas keep me up at night. I get so engrossed that I forget to eat and when I’m typing away getting up to go to the bathroom is an inconvenience! If you can’t think of anything that gets you excited, that’s OK too. My advice is to first stop wasting energy on something you know you hate, because it leaves you very little left in the tank to pursue what does make you happy.
Take a class
The most common reason I hear for not chasing your dream is “I’m not talented enough” or “I don’t know how”. If this sounds like you then I strongly advise you take a class to find out just how talented you really are. Over the years I’ve gladly taken part in at any extra training provided in my workplace in the form of first aid and management courses. In the evenings I’ve done several writing courses as well as a gym instructor course and an introduction to counselling. I’ve struggled more than anyone to try and pin down what it is I want to do with my life, and even though many of these training exercises haven’t led to new career paths they’ve enriched my life, given me added skills and if nothing else helped me cross another potential option off the list.
Just cause you’re good at it doesn’t mean it’s right for you
I remember vividly the day I quit my first coffee shop management job. My area manager wished me all the best, as I told her I wasn’t cut out for leadership and she loudly proclaimed “But you’re so good at it!” much to my embarrassment and brief feeling of regret. I think that was when I realised that I had spent 2 years doing a job I despised purely because I was so flattered that other people thought I was good enough to do it. With every promotion I felt fear and a sense of worth in equal measure. Obviously the small pay rise offered a tempting reward but I honestly think the sense of accomplishment was what kept me chasing the next new title on my name badge. But after the congratulations had been passed around, the real work began and I was left feeling empty and more stressed than before. The point is, it’s all about balance. We’ve all got to make enough money to live comfortably, but sometimes doing 50 hours a week to earn a good wage makes life uncomfortable in other ways. Sometimes working for less money doing something you enjoy offers a more fulfilling lifestyle overall; it’s not particularly well-paid but its not horribly soul-destroying either. Balance!
What steps have you taken to find your passion?