IF YOU’VE EVER asked for career advice, you were probably told to “follow your passion.” This seems like great advice. Who wouldn’t want to do what they’re passionate about every day?
The reality: What you’re passionate about may not be a viable career. I’m passionate about the game of golf. But I fell short of making it my career, despite playing collegiately.
There have been plenty of times when I’ve thought I needed to change direction. I thought I needed to find a new “passion” and do that for my work every day. Fortunately, through a few minor changes in my work environment and business structure, I’ve been able to create the ideal work setup for myself.
Looking to make a change yourself? Here, inspired by the Japanese notion of Ikigai, are five ways to enjoy your work so much that you’ll never want to retire:
1. Do what you love. When searching for your next career, or simply a new work environment to thrive in, make sure you’re doing what you love. There are all sorts of things you probably love to do. Start making a list, regardless of how silly each item may seem in terms of a career. As you go through each day, when an idea strikes you, write it down. This could be an endless list that continues to evolve over the course of your life—and helps you find the right direction.
2. Do what you’re good at. Now that you know a few of the things you love, ask yourself: What am I good at? You may love a lot of different things. I know I sure do. But that doesn’t mean you’re good at them or good enough to turn them into a career. We all have special talents that we may not think twice about, but—in the eyes of others—can seem quite amazing. Are there things you regularly get complimented on? You might also ask your friends and family to tell you what they think your talents are. You’ll probably be surprised by their answers.
3. Do what the world needs. After listing things you love and filtering it down to what you’re also good at, you need to make sure the globe actually needs what you’re offering. There are inventors across the world who come up with the most amazing new tools and gadgets—which then go unnoticed. If the world doesn’t need what you are offering, your service or product will likely fall short of your goals. It’s good to be ahead of the times by innovating. But innovating too much too soon is often a killer for even the best of ideas. Companies large and small face this problem on a daily basis.
4. Do what you can be paid for. You’ve determined what you love, what you’re good at and what the world needs. But can you also be paid for the service you’re offering? This is the most difficult step. Determining what you can be paid for often requires the most trial and error. You have to put yourself out there and fail a few times before you can bring it all together. If you can get at least three strangers to buy your product or service before you launch, you might be onto something.
5. Do what challenges you. To thrive, step outside your comfort zone. An easy life may sound appealing. But it’ll get boring quickly. I have found that the happiest individuals are the ones who always seem to be challenging themselves. If you listen to world-class athletes and other top performers, you’ll hear them talk about the process. They enjoy the preparation and the struggle just as much as they enjoy accomplishing their goals.
Ross Menke is a certified financial planner and the founder of Lyndale Financial, a fee-only financial planning firm in Nashville, Tennessee. He strives to provide clear and concise advice, so his clients can achieve their life goals. Ross’s previous blogs include Starting Young, That Extra Step and Keeping It Going. Follow Ross on Twitter @RossVMenke.