We live in a country of choice. As a result, we are told from an early age that we can do great things—almost anything we want—and many of us do get to choose our professional paths. This may begin with an idea or focus in high school that leads to an area of study in college. There may be professors and other mentors who help you follow a chosen path. They may also help you find that first professional job. If you are lucky, your passion, your direction, your career choice, and your job all align. What happens, however, when one the four seems out of sync.
If it’s your current job that seems to be the problem, you can always find another one that fits better with your passion and your skills. Take your time to find a good match and don’t quit one job before you have another.
If it’s the direction in which your career is going that is a concern, you can reassess your goals. If needed, you can set new goals for a new direction.
What if it’s your career choice that seems to be in question? If that’s the issue, move more slowly and consider how you actually arrived at your current choice. Was your career decision something you always knew you would do or were you strongly encouraged by others because you had an obvious talent in some area? As an example, perhaps you’ve always had outstanding math skills. Several relatives had similar skills. They went into accounting, and it was simply assumed that you would become an accountant, too. While you were encouraged (pushed?) to choose the accounting path, maybe you were actually fascinated by architecture. That major, however, required five years of college instead of four, and it did not appear to be a practical financial choice for you and your family at that time.
In an example like this, one solution might be to apply for an accounting position at an architectural firm to get a better feel for the demands and rewards of that profession. There may be a niche job there that will allow you to forge a hybrid path between the two disciplines. Or, perhaps you find that returning to school to pursue an architectural degree would be supported by your new employer.
If your passion and position are a good match, you are fortunate. Maybe you always wanted to be an elementary teacher and you couldn’t be happier with your new job. But, what if your passion is to write fiction, and you find yourself writing press releases for a public relations firm instead. Or, you want to become a police officer, but you are currently the night clerk at a local hotel. Passion can take you far, but passion alone will not assure success. To be successful, you need realistic goals, an action plan, a workable timeline, patience, flexibility, and determination.
The odds may, at times, seem stacked against you, but keep moving forward. Your career will span decades, and experts now tell us that those just entering the professional workforce may hold as many as 20 or more positions during their careers. There will be plenty of time to find your direction and to live—and work—your passion.