Finding your passion in life isn’t enough to build a great career. As Steve Jobs said during his famous Stanford Commencement speech, “You got to find what you love.” Steve was right, but finding what you love is only part of the equation. To build a fulfilling career you have to examine what you love, but it has to be within the context of your strengths, skills, and desired lifestyle.
A few months ago I voluntarily resigned from my job as a Project Manager in the pharmaceutical industry when I realized that I didn’t truly deeply care about my work. With my newfound free time, I set out to find my passion, and then build a career out of it. When I asked myself what things in life got me the most excited and intrigued, I found that I had three answers: kids, human behavior, and entrepreneurialism.
The first passion I explored was kids. I have always loved kids – they make me laugh, and I find their simple outlook on life to be both beautiful and refreshing. A few months ago, I thought it was only logical that I would be fulfilled in a job where I got to work with kids all day, and concluded that a teacher would be the perfect job for me. I went to Virginia and observed a Montessori classroom for a few days, and talked to people I knew who were teachers. But I kept coming back to one problem: I just couldn’t imagine myself teaching kids in a classroom for the next 40 years. What was missing? Why wasn’t my passion enough?
I figured out that my ideal job needed to incorporate much more than my passion. It needed to address my strengths, skills, and desire to make a contribution to society. It also had to incorporate my values and ideal lifestyle. One particular book that helped me immensely to define those things was Great Work, Great Career by Stephen R. Covey and Jennifer Colosimo.
So as you define your passions and build your ideal career, ask yourself the following questions:
- What am I passionate about? What topics get me fired up?
- What am I really good at? What do my friends and family come to me for advice on?
- What skills do I currently have that are valuable, and how do they apply to the field I am passionate about?
- What is my ideal lifestyle, and what types of jobs would allow me to create that lifestyle?
Just remember that finding your passion isn’t enough to create a fulfilling career, it’s only the first step.