*This article was originally inspired by Cathy Caprino’s article on Forbes.*
Life seems to have a plan for us even before we know it.
In fact, our paths are often so well laid out for us that before we know it, we’ve signed up for some sort of ambiguous university degree.
This happened to me. I chose to study dental hygiene because 1) it offered a good-looking salary and 2) the city I grew up in offered the program. Naturally, I did what was expected.
Thankfully though, I’m a quitter. With only one year left to finish, I decided to walk away from my career as an oral hygienist because 1) the stress of it was expediting my hair loss and 2) I was very unhappy. So, I listened to my “intuition,” or common sense as some may call it, and left the program.
Eventually, I re-kindled my childhood love for writing to mitigate my shame for leaving school, never with the intention of building a career out of it, of course, because how many writers actually get paid for their work?
But somehow, after embracing my inner quitter and picking up an improbable hobby, I rolled two doubles and landed on free parking, or, in layman’s terms – I got hired as a writer.
Turning your passion into a lucrative career may seem impossible at times, and if your passion involves creativity it may seem just plain “stupid” to try and tackle, but there are methods to help make your dreams a reality that anyone can apply if you are finally ready and determined to make things happen in your life.
Let me elaborate.
1) Ask yourself what made you happiest when you were young and naive.
Before you became jaded by life, i.e., car payments, rent, student loans, etc., what got you the most excited when you were a kid?
Perhaps it was using your easy-bake-oven to make mom mystery cakes (seriously, what the heck was in those?), reenacting scenes as Rose from Titanic in your friend’s swimming pool (No one? Just me then…), painting “nice” pictures for your art teacher, or pretending to ride a unicorn (in which case, stop reading this article because that will never happen). It doesn’t matter what that something is, the point is to think back to what got your inspirational juices going and made you happy. This means more than you realize.
If thinking about a childhood hobby sparks a light within you, even if that light is dim, hold on to it and think about ways of re-kindling that fire right now.
2) Think about the skills you love to use.
A job can suck until you know what you are doing, but even then, is being good at making PowerPoint presentations or serving coffee really a skill that constitutes fulfillment? Maybe for some, but be honest with yourself.
Just because you’re good at something, doesn’t mean you should make a career out of it.
Ask yourself, “what skills or activities do I value the most in life?”
Instead of settling for less because you learned how to do something properly, think about skills within you that you thoroughly love to use. Then, think about how you can apply these skills to a career or hobby that you would actually enjoy.
3) What do you want to accomplish with your talents?
The goal: find out how or what you want to accomplish with your skills/talents. Are you a writer who wants to make people laugh? Are you a jeweler who would love nothing more than for your creations to make girls swoon? Are you a listener who simply wants to help others?
Whatever the case, be clear with your intention, then write it down so you see it every day. For example:
“I desire to find a fulfilling career as a baker/blogger, where my healthy but aesthetically pleasing recipes will make eating decisions easy for other home-makers.”
Then, start networking extensively to help you land a role that will give you the chance to support those causes and areas which most matter to you.
When you write your intentions down and see them in front of you, magic happens. If you don’t believe in whimsical life anecdotes like this, then fine, live your life without ever really trying “light-as-a-feather” with your friends after having just finished watching the cult classic The Craft, which, by the way they are re-making….
4) Learn how to make moola with your craft.
Make others know how good you are at what you do.
Network, join meetup groups, be friendly to people you normally wouldn’t be, read books from people who made it in your passion’s line of work, become inundated in how to present yourself and sell yourself, even if this means preparing and memorizing certain hooks that you can say to people in situations where you can get a gig.
This week, brainstorm 30 new ways you can use and apply your immense talents to help others succeed and organizations grow and flourish. Then start sharing your vision for helping others with everyone you know, and asking people to connect you with others who might be helpful to speak with.
Here is some advice for creative people who may not understand the business side of things, always ask yourself this question in any situation where you find yourself trying to sell your idea or craft to someone else: What’s in this for you, and what’s in this for me?
Please, write that one down.
5) Confidence is key.
Confidence is invaluable in the real world. And yes, there is a big difference between confidence and cockiness.
You have to believe in yourself and your abilities, and you have to be able to portray that to people with humility and professionalism. In order to get the job or make your dreams come true, people like to know that you can get things done, and you’ll likely have to convince them of this before you win.
You’ve likely heard the term, “fake it ’till you make it!”
Well, clichés like this have stuck around for a reason. They work, so use them.
If you need confidence boosting or lessons on how to communicate, put yourself out in the public more. Treat every interaction as an opportunity to improve your social skills.
Try to understand other people’s perspectives. This will help you immensely, because deep down we all want to be heard and understood, and once mastered, this kind of empathy will get you far in life.
Books on effective communication can help a great deal too, but as we all know, practice is the only way to get perfect.
6) Ask for help sometimes.
This kind of builds on the previous tip.
In order to find success in any situation, whether that is a relationship or your career, you have to be ready to tackle life’s challenges with both courage and wisdom. But sometimes, this may not be possible because something is holding you back from your success, and it might be sitting right in front of you.
If you truly feel “stuck” then seek the help of a mentor. This could be a coach, teacher, counsellor, a reciprocal friend who can listen and give constructive advice (these types of friends can be hard to find, surprisingly), or an objective stranger.
Sometimes an objective, constructive point of view is just what you need to recognize your amazingness.
I hope that this has inspired you in some way, and I assume that if you are ready to make your dreams come true, you now have some homework to do.
So, on that note, I’ll leave you with a cliché to help you get inspired.
“Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” Napoleon Hill