August 21, 2012
Many people, from recent college graduates to seasoned middle-aged workers, aspire to turn their passion into a career. The proliferation of startup companies, bloggers, and self-motivated individuals who “make it big” seem to attest to the feasibility of such an aspiration. However, to generally pursue one’s passion without a targeted action plan is typically not an effective strategy, particularly in today’s job market where individuals struggle even to find a job, much less create their dream career. With this fact in mind, some career experts have written advice articles on how people can connect their passion to their career using talent, self-awareness, focus, and curiosity. Below is a summary of three such articles, which provide advice that is not only helpful to those looking to cultivate their passion, but also deeply relevant to any individual seeking a rewarding profession.
Be both inquisitive and self-aware. In her Forbes article “3 Simple Ways to Discover Your Passion,” Erika Andersen explains how self-awareness and focused questions can help people construct a concrete path towards their dream job. The single most important tool, she argues, is curiosity. “[G]et curious and explore,” she urges her readers, “Then notice your own reaction.” Using this model, Andersen argues, can help you find the right information, consult the right people, and put yourself in the right situations to discover whether your passion is really meant to be a professional calling. Andersen divides this productive curiosity into three steps: research what pursuing your passion would involve, arrange informational interviews with people who are in your career field of interest, and engage in activities such as volunteer work that give you exposure to environments that are similar to that of your dream career. Throughout these three steps, you should consistently ask yourself questions such as, “Am I still excited about this possible career path after having talked to people about the pros and cons? Does the research I have done about this ‘dream job’ only energize me further, or is it tedious?” By exploring the possibilities that relate to your interests and continually checking in with yourself, you can identify which of your passions can be turned into a viable career.
Develop an action plan. Career advice expert Lisa Taylor recommends taking stock of both your interests and your skills and using this information to develop an action plan to achieve your professional goals. Taylor’s article in the Toronto Star explains how she helped a man who loved sports to develop a list of potential careers that matched his passion, his experience, his work-related talents, and the ways in which he wished to positively impact the world. “A love of sport is just like any other passion,” she writes, “On its own it may not lead to a successful career. But you can get on the right track by thinking about exactly what you love about your passion specifically, and then filtering the broad spectrum of possibilities into a short list of careers.”
Regardless of your passion, stay current. In her Huffington Post article, Intern Sushi CEO Shara Senderoff also encourages young people to place priority on their passions as well as their skills set when looking for a job. However, she also urges her readers to learn as much as they can about their industries of interest, and to always stay updated on the latest developments in these industries by reading relevant blogs, news articles, Twitter feeds, and other online content.
The common threads of advice that run throughout these three articles can be summarized thus: Reflect on what you want to achieve and why, be proactive and plan your course of action towards your goal, and reach out to online and in-person resources to obtain the information and advice that you need to succeed.
Compiled by Kaitlin Louie
"3 Simple Ways to Discover Your Passion," forbes.com, July 23, 2012, Erika Andersen
"New Grads: You're Fighting With the Wrong Weapons in the Creative Job Market War," huffingtonpost.com, August 15, 2012, Shara Senderoff
"Turning passion into a career: Use your talents to do what you love," thestar.com, August 3, 2012, Lisa Taylor