First, you must think about what activities bring you joy. It might seem natural to look at what areas you excel in, but we don’t always love to do what we’re good at. I, for instance, am very good at jobs that require me to sort through heavy piles of paper in a gray cubicle. But let me tell you – Paper and I have a very tumultuous relationship. Don’t tell Paper – but I’ve been looking for a way to break up with it for some time now.
Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers so you can refer to them later:
- What activities bring me joy? What excites me?
- If I could do anything I want for a living, what would it be? Dream big. Put down anything and everything, even if it sounds absurd. Have fun with it. (i.e., theme park designer, chocolate taster, Channing Tatum’s muscle tester. You get the idea.)
When you look back at your list, read it over and next to each one, write down any thoughts that come up. Do you immediately think of reasons why you can’t do those things? Write down any positive or negative thoughts next to each item. Be honest with yourself. Here is my partial list:
- Interior designer – I do enjoy fantasizing that I have my own show on HGTV, but I’d have to go back to school. I also hate math.
- Jewelry designer – I love beads and metal. Would people buy my jewelry? Classes would be fairly minimal because I could teach myself a lot of techniques through books.
- Photographer – I love taking pictures but I don’t know if I have any natural talent. Truth: I’ve read my camera manual 3 times and still forget what aperture means.
- Dance teacher – I’m 43, out of shape, and haven’t danced since the 90s. Not happening.
- Writer – Do I write novels? Short stories? Non-fiction? Am I even good enough?
- Channing Tatum’s muscle tester – dang, we’re both married.
Hopefully you get the idea. As you can see, I can be a real negative ninny when I want to be. I think it’s only natural to have those thoughts, unless you are Gandhi, Deepak Chopra, or Anthony Robbins. If we didn’t doubt ourselves now, then we probably would be out of the cubicle already and on our way to a fulfilling career. So, you (we) need to work on those negative thoughts. Squash them! They are the only thing standing in our way, besides hard work and luck. I believe that luck plays a part in life and brings people to where they need to be, but without preparation, training, and drive – when opportunity knocks, there will be no one there to answer the door.
My Embarrassing Example:
When I was living in Los Angeles, I was actively making jewelry. I sold a few pieces here and there. A friend of mine knew the stylist who worked on the TV show Friends. The stylist admired my friend’s jewelry she was wearing (that I had made) and asked her to bring her some samples of my work so that she could possibly use them on the show! Jennifer Aniston wearing my necklace? What an opportunity!! Did I have any current pieces made? No. Did I have confidence that I could whip something up, good enough for famous people to wear? No.
I let it slip away. Too much time passed and it became increasingly harder for me to go back and find that connection. I know what you’re thinking. And you’re right – I was an idiot. She obviously liked my stuff. I just couldn’t get past my own insecurities and negative thoughts. Maybe on some level I didn’t think I deserved it. Well, I do now. Bring it on, Aniston.
So whatever your heart desires, even if it seems like too much work to get where you want to go, you can get there through baby steps. If you lack confidence, start focusing on positive thoughts to break the habit of negative thinking.
Make your list. Think about it. Is there one career that stands out more than the rest? Think about what steps you have to take to make that career your reality. Start taking actions towards that goal, even if it’s just 30 minutes on the weekends or 15 minutes after work. Just make that first step!