This article was inspired by Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford University [download the PDF from Trans4mind]. In it, he says the advice we've all heard a thousand times:
The trouble is that we hear we should be doing what we love to do all the time, but there's not any step by step advice out there on how to find what you love to do. The advice that is out there helps to a certain degree, but it's just a bunch of pieces thrown together with no coherent logical structure or order.
A perfect example is this. In order to find your passion, we are told to ask ourselves: "What would you do if you had a million dollars (tax free)?"
The typical answer ensues: "Well gee, I would put it in an account that yields high interest and live off the interest each year. Then I would move to Hawaii, buy a house, sip margaritas all day, play video games, go to the beach, swim, travel around the world, taste all the cuisines, read the books, play the sports, and on and on and on."
Does this really help? Not really. Sure, you figured out what your lazy butt likes to do, but it doesn't really answer the question that's hidden, which is "How do I make money doing what I love to do?"
What's the result? People working in jobs they hate, feeling trapped because they can't quit as they rely on that sole source of income to finance a lifestyle tailored to escape their grim reality, drifting aimlessly in life, in short, leading lives of quiet desperation, as so eloquently put by Henry David Thoreau.
Why don't they just quit their jobs and pursue what they love to do you ask? Two Reasons...
Reason #1: They don't know what they love to do.
Reason #2: Fear. They've got a lifestyle to uphold, bills to pay for, families to take care of, fear of no steady source of income, fear of what other people might think or say about them, etc. Fear.
Conquer indecision in Reason #1 and ACT, and you will most definitely conquer all fear in Reason #2.
The very fact that you are seeking to find what you love to do (by the very fact you came across this article and started reading it) is a BIG step, believe it or not. Many people in their lifetime avoid or do not even seek to find the answer to that question. They hear the question in their head but have become extremely adept at silencing it.
It is extremely important to answer the question on how to find what you love to do. You must decide what destination to steer your life in. Otherwise, you leave yourself wide open for others to direct your life, as well as at the mercy of the winds and storms of life. If you know where your destination is, the rest is easy.
You will find once you know what you want to do, all uncertainty and burden will be lifted off your shoulders and you will have clear vision as to what your journey is and that journey will truly be joyful. By the time you finish reading this article, I sincerely hope you experience that.
What about how to make money doing what you love? The question of how to monetize doing what you love is certainly a valid one. There are bills to pay, stomachs to feed, families to support, etc. Don't worry about that for now. That will be covered later in this article. First things first, you've got to find what you love to do.
Why is it so hard to find what you love to do? The answer is: it's not hard at all. You read right. It's not hard at all. Then why are so many people having difficulty finding what they love to do? Because they've never truly asked themselves.
What amazes me is that there seems to be a stigma attached to spending time with oneself. You have to constantly be doing something, whether it's going to the game, drinking beer with the buddies, going to that hot party or club downtown, etc. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with doing all that, but I suspect the vast majority of people who engage in this "I have to be doing something every minute because I can't be by myself" mentality are just putting up a front to show people how satisfying and fulfilling their life is, when in reality, it's just the opposite. The irony here is that spending time with oneself is EXACTLY what you should be doing to lead a satisfying and fulfilling life.
People think you have to travel around the world, experience new things, etc to find what you love to do. No. You just have to sit down and decide. The answer is already within you. You just have to dig it up and avoid procrastinating. Your brain has absorbed all sorts of information and experiences and it has the answer ready to be unraveled.
Just let it out. Be honest. Have you actually sat down by yourself with no distractions, with your sole focus on asking yourself what you love to do without picking up your cell phone, surfing the net, watching TV, chatting on AIM, listening to your favorite song, playing solitaire or minesweeper, checking your email, returning a call, getting a drink of water, going to the bathroom, looking at the clock, reading a magazine article. I could go on and on but you get the point. I'm going to go out on a limb and say you haven't for the sole reason that you are reading this article. Why is that? Fear of what the answer will be if you ask yourself what you love to do.
The answer is: I don't know. But that is exactly why you MUST find out. You're avoiding the question because you know the answer is you don't know, but that's ok. Admitting you don't know is perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with it. You're way ahead of a ton of other people who learn to quiet the voice within that asks the question of "What do I love to do?"
And let's say you're one of the few people who actually specifically know what they love to do. The next thought that pops in their head is "Oh, I can't make any money off of that." The seed that was planted never grew. I hate vague answers. I want clear, logical, definitive answers to questions. So let's do this...
Step 1: You WILL find the answer. No doubt.
You will find the answer. You will find it. No doubt. Approach the question with this mentality and you are sure to find it. How long will it take? It doesn't matter. Bottom line, you will find the answer.
By doing this, you automatically instill an anti quitting mechanism within yourself, because you know you will find the answer. If you know what you want to do, then you will do it. For example, if you know you want to arrive in New York, you'll find ways to get there. You'll hop a train, bus, or plane going to New York and will arrive in New York.
If you don't have the cash, you'll borrow it, or get a job and save up, or get a job as a flight attendant to get there for free. It doesn't matter how long it will take or what you need to do because you know you're going to New York. All your actions onward from the decision that you want to arrive in New York will revolve around getting to New York.
Finding what you love to do = Deciding to arrive in New York.
Step 2: Make a list of your skills and interests in two columns and write them down.
When I mean by skills is any skill. It could be an intangible skill. Empty your clip here, list EVERY skill you have. It could be programming, making web pages, talking, listening, persuading people, typing, flirting, analyzing, giving speeches, making things easy to understand, whistling, blowing bubbles with your spit, it could be anything. Don't be bashful. List everything you perceive your skills to be. Don't think you can do it all in your head. WRITE IT DOWN.
On your other column, lists your interests and don't be shy here as well. List EVERY interest you could possibly think of. Spiders, shoes, hair, makeup, basketball, tennis, thinking of ideas, babysitting, walking, hiking, fireworks, helping people, making fun of people, fishing, tai chi, karate, seashells, seaweed, can openers, anything goes. Yes, I did say can openers. Your interests can also include subjects you are knowledgeable about as well. Computers, economics, biology, basketball plays, football plays, magic tricks, etc.
To help you write down more interests, think of what you were interested in at your previous jobs and write them down. Also, think of what you were NOT interested in your previous jobs and write the exact opposite.
Asking yourself the following questions may shed light as to what skills and interests you possess...
Why am I emphasizing skills here? Because you've got to leverage what you're strong with. And don't say you don't have any. Everybody has skills. You've just never sat down and thought about it and wrote it down. By using your skills, you've got a head start, a catalyst.
And why interests? Simply because you've got to love what you do. By including interests, you include another form of an anti quitting mechanism.
Focus on generating as many skills and interests you can possibly think of and WRITE IT DOWN! You may find that your skills are gravitating toward one or two particular skills. The same may hold true for interests. Keep that in mind for step 3.
Step 3: Set aside some TRUE alone time with no distractions to focus and figure out what you love to do by asking yourself the right questions.
It amazes me how people set aside time for taxes, cooking, watching movies, reading, but when it comes to their own personal future, they NEVER set aside any time. How much MORE time should you set aside to figure out the path that will make you happy?
Ok, you've set some private alone time with no distractions; now what? You must ask yourself an extremely clear question. Clarity is key here. The clearer the question, the easier the answer will be. For example, if I ask you what 12 times 12 is, the answer comes easily, 144. However, if I ask, what is some even two digit number times some other even two digit number? Guess how long it'll take you to answer that question? Clear questions lead to clear answers.
Another key thing is to WRITE it down. I know you've heard it a billion times and it's so cliché but there's the reason... Writing things down allows you to easily make connections you've never thought of before because you see it on paper. It also allows you to "free room" in your brain for other thoughts because they are put in another container, so to speak. If I ask you, what's 257 times 852, try doing that in your head vs. writing it down. When you write it down, the answer comes out easier, not to mention more accurate.
If you haven't already written down your skills and interests in the previous step, STOP and DO IT NOW. It won't do you any good having them in your head.
So, let's use your alone time to ask yourself a clear question in writing. What is the question you should ask yourself? Is it: "What do I love to do?" That question is a bit broad, so let's narrow it down a little. Try asking yourself: "What would I love to do on a daily basis utilizing both my skills and interests that will add significant value to people?"
See the difference here? The more detailed and clearer the question, the easier it is to answer it. Why did I add the "add significant value" part? Because that will lead you to find a way to make money doing what you love.
By incorporating the question of how to add significant value by utilizing your skills, you automatically filter out all the "common answers" that people come up with when asked what they love to do. Common answers such as: "I love to watch TV." Or "I love to play video games." Answers such as that discourage people because they see no way of making money from it.
Adding to that, many people tend to make the mistake of focusing on how to make money. A lot of people fail to realize that money is just a byproduct of adding value in the form of a product or service to people. When you know how you can add value to people, you'll know how to get money.
Open up Word or get out a blank sheet of paper and write that question up at the top. Here it is again, in case you don't want to scroll up.
There was a small town with a ski resort which attracted a lot of tourists, which in turn helped the town's economy. However, when it snowed, the snowfall collected on the power cables, until the weight was enough to collapse the cables, resulting in several power outages. Slowly but surely, tourists stopped coming, so the town held a meeting to discuss how to solve the problem of having snow collect on the power cables. Solutions were tossed out for quite some time.
Then somebody shouted in a loud voice from the back of the room and said, "Let's hang pots of honey on the power cables to make the bears climb up. When the bears climb up and get the honey, their movement will shake the snow off the power cables."
The audience laughed and somebody else, deciding to play along, said "How will we refill the pots of honey?" "We'll use a helicopter," another person said.
Then the answer dawned upon them. By having a helicopter fly by the power lines, the wind from the propellers would shake the snow off.
The main point here is that answers, no matter how ridiculous they may seem, should not be feared because more often than not, they lead to results. It's all part of the process. Even if an answer seems ludicrous, write it down. Write down all your answers. Do it until you have 20 answers and look them over. You will find that as you write down answers and look at them, it will in turn propel you to think of new creative answers that you would not have come up with before. You will be amazed at all the things you wrote and the different solid creative ideas that come about.
Now the time comes for focus. I'm sure you've heard of the sun and magnifying glass analogy pertaining to focus but I'm going to say it again. If you try to do a bunch of things at once, nothing will get done. If you wave a magnifying glass around on the hottest day, you won't burn anything. You'll dissipate all your energy among the trivial many.
By focusing and harnessing all your power, energy, time, focus, thinking, etc. on one goal, you will be amazed at how deep and quickly you can accomplish that. Just as you steady a magnifying glass on a single object, with the hot burning sun rays analogous to your desire, focus, power, energy, time, etc., you will make an impact.
The notion of focus is so important that I'm going to use another analogy. Imagine you're a cheetah and you see two juicy gazelles grazing in the grass. Spending your time chasing both = no food = death. Hunt one down. It might take time to catch it and kill it, but when you do, you'll be recharged. You will soon start collecting information on how the gazelles run, which direction they run, where they like to graze, etc, which will help you catch more gazelles in the future, thereby putting you in a favorable cycle. Case in point, focus on one.
So look over your list you just made and choose one idea that seems the most appealing to you. You may find you can combine a few ideas into one idea. Nevertheless, choose one idea that you will garner the greatest satisfaction not just for yourself, but to other people.
You might want to zero in on the ideas that combine your skills and interests that you've listed in the beginning. The reason being, psychologically speaking, you've probably listed your greatest skills and interests first and then as you started listing them downward, so did your degree of skill and interest. This might not be true. You might have 20 different but equal skills and interests, which if you do, I congratulate you. Just a tip I thought I would throw out.
How Will You Know You've Found What You Love To Do?
Does it make you feel good? If you feel it in your gut that you've hit the jackpot, you're right. If your friend were to bring up the idea you picked, would you be all over it talking about it? You have to have no reservations about it. If you feel the slightest doubt that it's not your passion, then it's not. You must hunger to overcome any obstacles to pursue your passion.
Once you have that, your search is over. That, right there is what you love to do. As for how to make money off of it, you might have already found ways when you wrote down your answers. If you still want to find more ways to make money doing what you love, just follow the same steps.
Copyright © 2006-2009 Brian Kim, All Rights Reserved
Brian Kim is an internationally known writer with the ability to inspire and provide people all over the world with high quality definitive information on self improvement that they can use to invest in themselves, their greatest asset, in order to make their dreams come true.