[![MG_2919-1](https://yellow-blog-images.imgix.net/2016/01/MG_2919-1.jpg)](https://yellow-blog-images.imgix.net/2016/01/MG_2919-1.jpg)Imagine this: every time you go get your car fixed, the mechanics are all super helpful and knowledgeable, you don’t feel like you’re getting screwed over, and the experience is actually enjoyable. Each time you go get coffee, go out to eat, or meet someone for happy hour, your server is excited to recommend her favorite dish or drink and you can tell she is eager to happily serve you to the very best of her ability. What if each experience in your life was enjoyable _because the person serving you was also enjoying it?
I’ve found it’s a relatively rare thing to genuinely love your job. A great majority of the people I talk to either dislike (or even hate) their job, or don’t really feel like they’re doing what they want to or are meant to be doing. However, I’m convinced this isn’t the way it has to be! 40 hours every week (or 20 for all you part timers) is just too much time to spend doing something you don’t like or feels meaningless. There are two major problems I’ve noticed that keep most people from having a career they really love and are excited to wake up to each day:
Problem #1: You feel guilty for profiting from doing what you love.
If you’re reading this post on the Yellow Conference blog, you’re more than likely a do-gooder. You want to make the world a better place; you want to serve people and solve problems. Because of this, you might be tempted to think, “If this is something I enjoy doing/making/providing, it would be selfish for me to try and profit from it! This is a talent and passion of mine and I should use it to serve others, not take their money!” However, this might be the wrong way of looking at it. Here’s why:
- The truth is, the bills gotta get paid.
You HAVE to make money somehow. Would it be nice if we could all just give our skills and talents away for free? Sure! But that’s just not the way the world works. You gotta make money, so if you’re going to spend such a huge chunk of your time on something, why not spend it on a skill you actually delight in?!
- The fact that you love it and are good at it makes you much more qualified to be doing it than someone else.
As a consumer, I’d rather give my money to you, knowing there’s a greater chance you’re going to do a better, more thorough job than someone who hates what she is doing and/or doesn’t have the proper skill.
- Profit and service are not opposites.
In fact, providing a quality product to your customers or clients is a service. People are appreciative and grateful when they feel they are getting their money’s worth. Furthermore, when you do want to give something away for free, you actually have the resources and experience to do so. For example, a professional graphic designer is going to be much better positioned to donate her services to a non-profit organization than someone who doesn’t do graphic design for a living
Problem #2: You know you’re not happy with the job you have; but you don’t know where to go next.
This can be a tough one. Sometimes we _know _we are meant for more, but have no idea what that looks like or how to go about pursuing a career that actually feels meaningful. Unfortunately, it can require a lot of patience. But whether it’s through a sudden epiphany or a slow and steady process of elimination, you are bound to figure it out if it is something you truly want. In the meantime, pay attention to how you view the world around you. Ask your trusted tribe what they think would be a good fit for you. And get introspective by asking yourself these questions:
- What am I passionate about?
What gets your blood pumping? What do you want to talk about for hours with your friends? What would make you wake up in the morning excited about doing? Whose work do you admire? You may not be able to nail down one thing, and that’s okay! Just writing down some things that come to mind is a great place to start.
- What are my talents?
Has there ever been a time when a friend or colleague has come and asked you for help with something because he or she knew you were better at it than others? Is there something that might be difficult for other people but comes easily to you? How might you be more equipped than someone else?
- Where do I see a need?
Is there a problem in the world or your community you think you could solve? Is there a market for whatever it is you could offer?
So, now what?
We live in a time where there is infinite possibility to choose our own career paths. With the internet, we can learn a new craft without going back to school. We can experiment with different things we wouldn’t have been able to before. We can make connections and network with people much more easily. Here are some practical steps to take toward a career we love:
- Start Small.
If your passion has to do with creating something or providing a service, try starting out by making it into a side gig. You can start your own business quickly and easily with platforms like Etsy and Shopify, and most of the time you don’t need a lot of money up front. This will allow you to get an idea of whether or not it’s something you could do full time and whether or not it’s something people need and want, without much risk involved. You will probably need to do some trial and error, trying different things until you figure out what you want and what your clients want. So, don’t have to quit your day job - yet.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out.
These days, networking is everything. Don’t be afraid to contact those who are already doing something similar to what you want to do. Ask them questions and find out the pros and cons of doing what they do. Ask if you can work under them for a while or collaborate.
- Do something for free.
Whether you want to start a small business and work for yourself or want to get a job at your dream company, don’t believe that it’s all about money at first. Offer to design, write, consult, or whatever it is you want to do, for free! Get your foot in the door. Prove your work is valuable and you are trustworthy. Chances are, it will pay off in the long run.
Of course, choosing this path is not all rainbows and butterflies. It can require a lot of hard work and there are sure to be setbacks. There’s always a risk involved in following your dreams. But I truly believe that if we do it right, seeking wisdom from those who have gone before us, chances are we will find ourselves much more fulfilled and happy than we would otherwise, continually bringing more joy and service into the world through our every day lives.
Photos by Karen Marie Hernandez