Finding Your Passion: Checklist for Remapping Your Career

By Catherine Lang-Cline

When we are children, we have these grand ideas of what we want to be when we grow up. The most common career choices are often firefighter, veterinarian, maybe astronaut. If it is not one of these, it is something else that has been exhibited in some way to us when we are children. Most of us went on to do something else, as we were exposed to many other options as we got older. Where we are now might be a path of where we were expected to go or was a path paved out of necessity. Basically, we took the job because we needed the job.

There comes a time when we have gone through enough places of employment to realize that we are on a path we wish to continue on or we’re on the wrong one. Actually, the thought of going one more step on this path of your career sounds completely exhausting. It may be time to look at your life’s map again and try and figure out your next move. It’s time to find or reignite your passion.

“Finding your passion” may not sound all that practical— the common consensus is often that there is no way to make a living from whatever your passion may be. The thing is, you don’t have to give up everything to find your passion, but you do need to take a little time to think about what it is that makes you truly happy. If you are like me, you get so focused on the current path that you forget to think about what it was that got you excited in the first place. Here's my go-to checklist on how to remap your career.

Seclude yourself and reflect.

Find some quiet time to be alone and write down everything that you really like to do, things that you find rewarding, things that you feel good doing. Do you enjoy organizing, managing, painting, collecting and think about what it is that you get out of it? How do you feel? Why do you like it?

Analyze your unique skillset.

Now write down what skills you have learned up until now, all of them. Have you ever managed a project, trained an employee, built a website, think about everything.

Connect the dots.

For example, you love math, you are an accountant, and you also love animals. Start looking in places that might need an accountant that is affiliated with animals. Think vet, think about a corporation that provides medical benefits to animals, think about the Westminster Dog Show. Another example, you love to decorate but you are currently managing a team of mechanics, think if your skills can be translated; project management, team building, scheduling, training. Can you be presented as a strong candidate managing designers or be a fit to some role in a design firm?

Channel your entrepreneurial spirit.

Think about the idea of you taking everything you have learned and starting your own business. Maybe you have gathered enough skills and have enough passion that you can start something on your own. I was a designer, I created a company to find work for designers.

The deal is this, life is short and you should spend most of your time doing something that you love or at least like. Every skill you have collected at every job you have worked in can be applied to a role that can redirect your career path. Your skills are valuable and you don’t have to just be promoted to the next rung. You can actually step over to another ladder.

Job Hunting in a Down Market

Okay, so it's not a great time to be looking for a job. But is there ever really a great time? For most people job hunting is one of the most stressful processes they go through no matter what the economic situation. Layer in all of the recent financial craziness, and you might just want to close your eyes and hope it's all just a dream, or nightmare. Open your eyes! That's not going to help, in fact in a down market you need to be doing more not less. When companies are hiring less and more people are looking, then it is even more critical that you stand out as the best candidate in every way. You need a resume that highlights your experience in the best possible light, a top-notch portfolio, a great positive attitude, interviewing skills that help you show how great you are, and as many connections as you can get. You have to be twice as good as everyone else, and that takes work. Take advantage of every resource you can find, even the ones you don't think you need. Think you have a great resume? Have someone review it anyway. Believe you're a fantastic interviewer? Have a professional work with you and give you feedback. Current on all your software? Learn something new. No matter how good you are, there's always room for improvement. And whatever you do, don't do this. Poor guy, what was he thinking?!