In case you’ve missed it, these seems to be quite a bit of debate these days about work and what type of work you should pursue. Start discussing this among entrepreneurs and would-be business owners and the debate can get down-right heated. At the heart of the matter is whether you should try to just find good solid work that you may not like, but pays really well or if you should pursue work you love.
The media laments that pursuing work you love is over-glamorized. A bunch of starry-eyed dreamers who can’t provide for their families. However, for many, the thought of spending their entire working lives doing something they dislike or even despise just because it pays well destroys their soul. (There’s a reason more than 70 percent of workers are disengaged and looking for other work.)
So what’s the answer?
1. Understand what the difference is between something we LOVE to do and our PASSION. If you look up the definition of Love, when referring to something, not someone, it is warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion. The relevant definition for Passion is intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.
My understanding of the difference between these two terms is one (Love) is something we enjoy doing, the other (Passion) is who we are.
Here’s my example: I love the performing arts. I love theater, dance, acting, singing, performing. Ever since I was in first grade, I have wanted to “be on stage.” It’s something that feeds my soul. However, I don’t have a driving conviction about the performing arts. I suspect that Miss Toni, who owns the dance academy we attend, has a driving conviction to glorify God and reach people through the various forms of dance. Simply read the Student’s Statement of Purpose and it comes through rather clearly.
My driving conviction is helping others unleash their unrealized potential. In every situation, by nature, I’m looking at all the possibilities of what is possible for someone and how can we get you there. It’s part of how I’m wired. I’m driven to always challenge the status quo and strive for something better, greater, than where we are today. This is my passion.
It takes more work and effort to understand your passion versus simply things to which you have a warm attachment. However, once you do understand it, you realize that your passion is not limited to a single job or occupation. I have lived out my passion in a variety of jobs and careers – everything from being a plant manager, to a retail clerk, to running my consulting firm, to this business. It’s who I am, not what I do.
2. Is there a PROFITABLE market? Once you discover your passion, you then need to find a market you can serve. This market should be one that is fun for you to work with and is profitable. Even if you’re running a non-profit or low-profit business, you still need your market to be able to pay you enough to cover your expenses, which includes an income for you. If your market is not profitable, you won’t be able to stay in business to be able to continue serving them. Profit is not evil. I know some business owners who almost seem afraid to to make a profit or charge customers. If you don’t want to keep or reinvest your profits, then donate them to a cause you believe in. By allowing customers to pay you, you give them the opportunity to show you how much they appreciate all the value you give them. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, profits enable to you reinvest in your business so you can serve more customers.
3. Do you have the SKILLS to help your market? Once you understand your passion and you identify a market, you still need to make sure you can actually help them. Because your passion can be applied in many different ways, you can serve a single market numerous ways. So here is where you look at your skills set to identify how you can best serve this market.
Again, I’ll use myself as an example. With my passion and my target market of 30 to 45 year old professional/corporate moms I could offer a whole host of services. Everything from fitness and nutrition to financial coaching to what I offer through The Naptime CEO. But when I look at my skill set, this narrows down my options to help me hone in on the option with the greatest potential. While I’ve run a half marathon and a few 10Ks, I don’t have the skill set to be a fitness coach. On the other hand, I’ve started and grown a professional business that is highly profitable and doesn’t require me to be gone 40+ hours a week.
Once you’ve done the work in each three of these steps, you should have your sweet spot. If you concentrate your efforts in that area, you will have much more success than any other approach. (Even though I’m partial to entrepreneurship, this approach will work to find your best fit job or career as well.)
What do you think? Am I just a starry-eyed dreamer or does this resonate with you?