As a kid the possibilities seemed so endless. Everything and anything felt within reach. Breakdancer, artist and rockstar were all perfectly viable options to a five year old.
But as we move into adulthood, the realities of life begin to set in. It’s no longer about chasing wild childhood dreams, but about developing and sustaining a solid career that will provide you with fruitful opportunities to progress higher and higher on the ladder. A career that will give you the means to start building a life and future complete with your own car, property and maybe a few little critters with their own dreams that you may one day have to advise are a bit unrealistic and maybe they should look at other options, “how about optometry or becoming an actuary?” And so the cycle continues.
Or does it?
As your typical career-hopping “millennial”, I don’t really know how to respond to the question of “what do you do for a living” anymore. A few of my responses typically sound like the following:
“I’m taking a career break at the moment”
“I’m still figuring it out”
“Can we skip to the next question please?”
It has been unnerving for me to respond with so much uncertainty, especially as a pretty driven and ambitious late twenty-something. When almost ten years of your life have been spent working full-time, your sense of self-worth undoubtedly becomes intertwined with the pay check you receive in your bank account each month. And for a while that sense of security felt pretty great.
But when about one-third or an average of thirty years of human life is spent at work (a depressing thought right?!), you’d want to make sure it was fulfilling whatever personal needs you had. For some people, work is financial security and a means to building the future and lifestyle they want for themselves and their families. For others, work is about helping people and making an impact in their communities and for many more it’s a way of keeping their minds active and engaged with the world around them. For me work has always been something that I wanted to be passionate about, a place that brought out the very best in me and helped me bring out the best in others around me. Whatever it is, each of us has their own deeply personal motivation.
A good friend recently introduced me to a blogger named Mark Manson who writes about life and big philosophical ideas (he has many interesting articles well worth the read). An article aptly entitled ‘Screw Finding Your Passion’ particularly resonated with me because it gave me a different perspective on my own search to find “my passion” in life.
In a nutshell, Manson cites that everyone’s found their passion but they’re just ignoring it. It’s right under our noses! It’s the stuff we can talk about for ages without getting bored (but probably boring our listener with); it’s the kind of stuff you browse endlessly through online or on your Insta page; it’s the stuff you will travel distances for to see/feel/touch/experience/explore. The pursuit of this stuff is so effortlessly that you don’t even consciously know you’re pursuing it or looking for it.
Take my dad for example. He’s a dentist by trade and has been for the last thirty years. He’s great at his job and has learnt to enjoy it over time but it’s become his bread and butter. Probably without him even realising it, he has gradually developed a passion for property investment. On weekends or days off you’ll most likely find him going to open houses or tidying up loose ends at one of his properties or running around trawling Bunnings for the right shelf bracket. He is tireless and sometimes my mum and I just don’t understand where he gets all his energy from. But it’s because he’s driven by the thrill of building his own property empire and with lots of experience he’s become damn good at it too, further fuelling his pursuit.
But your passions don’t necessarily have to be money-making machines either. There’s nothing wrong with doing a 9 to 5 job and pursuing the things you love on the side. I know plenty of people who work hard in their day jobs to save up and travel for extended periods of time because they have a passion for exploring the world and challenging themselves in new environments.
For me, i’d like my passions and work to collide as much as possible. So here are three simple things you and I can do to make something out of those passions:
1. Pay closer attention to the things you do in your downtime -write down a list of these activities and topics in your notebook.
2. Group your activities/topics into categories (the more specific the better) – for example, I go to lots of art exhibitions and festivals and attend talks about art collecting and emerging art scenes, so art business might be the category.
3. Figure out what actions you can take to explore those categories even further – whether that’s having a chat with the guest speaker/event organiser or volunteering at future events, small actions like this will help to open doorway upon doorway into new areas and opportunities you never even knew existed.
And you never know, my breakdance/rockstar/art career might just take flight after all.
x Grandma AL