5 reasons why you can’t turn your passion into a career
Twelve years ago, at the age of twenty-seven, I was working long, hard hours in a dead-end job I hated.
I felt so trapped. I wanted to make more money, but more importantly, I wanted work to be more about meaning than just making money. I wanted it to serve a bigger purpose than just trading time for money and collecting a paycheck.
I thought, “There has to be something more than just paying bills until I die and looking forward to weekends and retirement.”
I yearned to earn a living doing what I loved.
Can you relate?
I set out on a journey to find my passion and purpose. Along my journey I’ve discovered a few secrets.
Here are the top reasons why people struggle with turning their passion into a career — and how you can overcome them to make a living doing what you love:
1. You can’t find your passion (what you love)
Joseph Campbell famously taught to “Follow your bliss.” But how can you follow your bliss when you don’t even know what it is?
If this is where you’re stuck, the secret is to experiment and expose yourself to lots of things.
This is how you learn what you like and what you don’t like, what you’re good at and where you struggle.
Twelve years ago I had no idea I had a passion for writing and mentoring; these have only emerged through experimenting and exposing myself to a lot of different things.
As Steve Jobs said,
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
2. You don’t see your gifts (what you’re good at)
Our gifts come so naturally to us that they’re incredibly hard to see.
We don’t even recognize them because we take it as a given that anyone can do what we do. It’s so effortless for us that how could anyone not be able to do it?
The secret here is to engage with a mentor who can point out the “elusive obvious.”
Since 2003 I’ve always had at least one formal mentor at any point in my life. I would never be where I’m at today without them.
Mentorship is indispensable. You have to engage with someone who can see what you don’t see and help you develop your gifts to the fullest.
Because as the saying goes,
“It’s hard to read the label when you’re in the bottle.”
3. You lack courage and confidence
This really boils down to a deep-seated feelings of self-doubt, shame, unworthiness, deficiency, and inadequacy — some form of, “I’m not enough.”
In my coaching I have yet to find a case where this “not enough” feeling is not rooted in childhood wounds.
Through a long-term, consistent practice of mindfulness, you stop associating yourself as and identifying with your thoughts and feelings of inadequacy. You see them for what they are, and they no longer control your life.
4. You don’t know how to give people what they want
It’s not enough for you to have a passion for something — there must also be proven market demand for what you love to do.
This graphic perfectly illustrates the sweet spot of purpose:
To turn your passion into a career, you have to get outside your own head and identify the pain, problems, frustrations, and stress felt by other people. This is the essence of entrepreneurship.
You turn your passion into a career by leveraging it to create value for other people.
5. You resist sales and/or you don’t know how to market
People commonly resist sales and marketing because they think they’re taking money from others.
The truth is that ethical selling is not about taking, but rather about giving. It’s an exchange of value. No one will give you money unless they value what you’re offering more than their money.
Entrepreneurship is really about service. You are successful only to the extent that you can alleviate the pain and solve the problems experienced by other people.
Sales are evidence that you have served others and made their lives better.
Marketing becomes powerful when you speak to felt needs. You have to speak to the heart of the customer, in the language of the customer, about things the customer cares about.
5 steps to turn your passion into a career
To recap, here’s how to turn your passion into a career:
- Experiment to find your passion.
- Engage with a mentor to discover your gifts.
- Use mindfulness to heal your “not enough” wound and gain courage and confidence.
- Get outside your own head and look for market demand. Alleviate the pain and solve the problems experienced by other people.
- Market effectively by speaking to felt needs. The more you know your customers, the better you can speak to their pain.