Many people spend their entire lives working unsatisfying jobs that do not fulfill their passion or suit their natural skills or talents. Whether they got there because of parental pressure, vocation uncertainty, college majors chosen blindly or a lack of opportunity, these workers often deny themselves the chance to pursue their passion and remain in a vicious, unhappy career cycle because of fear of failure or an aversion to risk-taking.
Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about doing something completely different? If so, you are among a large percentage of the population who feel the urge to make a change in their career, but feel trapped by life circumstances and can’t seem to find the courage to go for it.
Most individuals I speak to on this subject quickly conjure up excuses on why they are powerless to change. In the end, it’s all about choices. You can either choose to remain dissatisfied, or put the wheels in motion to do something about it.
As the old Chinese proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” That first step of getting started is crucial. So, how do you begin pursuing your passion? Here are a few suggestions to get you on your way.
Put your plan together.
Whatever your end goal is, you must attach a timeline and detailed plan to it. For example, if you want to own your own business in three years, break down all the steps required to make it happen by that date. Start slowly and take baby steps while you stay in your current job, but stick to your plan by doing a few tasks every day. Those tasks might include expanding your network, raising capital, taking classes, or sending emails or correspondence to collaborators. Don’t give up or stop until you get there.
Believe in yourself.
It sounds simple, but many people lack the confidence to get the process rolling. Surround yourself with cheerleaders and supporters who will keep you focused. Avoid negative influencers who will tell you all the reasons why you will fail.
The most important person you need to listen to is yourself. If you talk to yourself in positive terms and allow that attitude to propel you forward, you will succeed. Your intuition and instincts will guide you, and your internal compass will let you know whether you are lost or headed on the right path. Don’t let anything slow your momentum.
It’s OK to have big dreams, but be realistic. Follow your heart, but do your homework. What’s the unemployment rate for your dream job? What’s the average salary? What types of organizations hire this role? What education or credentials are required? What’s the typical path to employment?
The more information you have about the road ahead of you, the more you can prepare yourself to navigate its challenges. Don’t assume the statistics won’t apply to you. Learning that most authors still have day jobs or that Etsy sellers have lower-than-average household incomes, or that small meeting planning firms have a low ROI won’t dissuade you from pursuing your passion, but it will force you to contemplate potential lifestyle and economic changes. If you’re going rely on your passion for a paycheck, you should know exactly what you need to do to earn one.
You must be honest with yourself about how much of your longing to follow your passion is about the dream itself and how much of it is simple dissatisfaction with your current situation. It’s a lot easier to find a better boss or take on new responsibilities at work than it is to go back to school at age 50 to become a veterinarian, for example. If you’re already deep into your career and shouldering significant financial and family responsibilities, start by exhausting all your options to balance passion and pragmatism before taking the plunge into a new venture.
Take action now.
Whatever you decide, don’t procrastinate or come up with excuses on why you can’t get started today. It is easy to get sidetracked or paralyzed because of fear. Blow past it and don’t look back.
Michael J. Lyons is a professional speaker, actor, author and respected veteran of the meetings industry. His diverse background includes senior level positions with many industry companies including exhibition director of IBTM America. As a SAG actor, his credits include “The Sixth Sense,” “Veep” and “House of Cards.” As a speaker, Lyons delivers talks in the U.S. and abroad with a focus on how to enhance your personal brand. He is the author of “Set Yourself Free: Daydream it…Believe it…Achieve it!” For more information on Lyons, visit lyonsspeaker.com.