Most people don’t love what they do. They go to work every day to earn a paycheck, not because they’re passionate about the work they’re doing. According to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of Americans are not engaged in their current job.
I can’t say the statistic surprised me, but I can say, it made me sad.
I never wanted to be that 70%. Since I was 18 and I transferred from my Big 10 University to an urban art college, I knew that if I was going to spend 45+ hours a week doing something, I wanted to enjoy it. Finding something you’d enjoy doing during that time is easy; it’s finding a way to get paid for it that can be tricky.
But tricky doesn’t mean impossible.
The first step is identifying something that you love. For me, it was reading and writing, anything from books to magazines to blog posts. There are other things I love too (swimming, dogs, etc.) but these were things I wanted to leave to hobby rather than turning them into a career. I recommend taking a week or so and creating a list of things you enjoy. Then, go through each one and think about what it would mean to turn that love into a career. Keep in mind, once it becomes a career, your feelings toward it may shift. I still love reading, but as a book publicist, my reading for pleasure time is extremely limited and when I do sit down to read non-client related material, it’s difficult to turn the publicist brain off.
Once you know the direction you want to go, it’s time to figure out how to earn a living at it. There is no right or wrong way to do this, you have to go with what makes sense for you. A few options are:
- Keep the Occupation, Change the Industry. If you’re a CPA, take your business skills to a company you’re passionate about. If you love to cook, apply for a finance or accounting job at restaurant group or companies like William and Sonoma or Whole Foods. If you’re in advertising, but you’re passionate about nature and conservation, look for internal roles at REI or environmental not-for-profits.
- Re-Purpose Existing Skill Set. If you’re a lawyer, chances are, you know how to write and are a strong speaker. If you’re an administrative assistant, you’re probably highly organized and able to multi-task. If you’re in sales, you know how to write pitch emails and talk to people on the phone. You can take these skills and apply them to a new, more enjoyable role. Use your organization skills to leverage a position with a party planning company. Take your writing skills to a travel magazine or entertainment website or publishing house. Your occupation is a sum of all of your skills, but those skills can be applied to dozens of occupations.
- Create Something for Yourself. No jobs on the market that excite you? Can’t seem to find the right fit? Then start something for yourself. This is, by far, the most difficult and risky of the three options, but I can tell you first hand, it can be the most rewarding. Think about the thing you love to do and why you love to do it. Think about ways you can convert that love into a full time job. It may be as simple as launching your own photography business or going to culinary school to become a chef. But sometimes, the perfect role isn’t as obvious…
When I graduated with a B.A. in Fiction Writing I thought I was going to be a writer. I freelanced for magazines, newspapers, corporations, really anyone who would pay me to string words together. As a freelance writer, my favorite gigs were book reviews because I loved telling people what to read. I soon realized that while I loved to write, that didn’t necessarily mean I should be a writer. Combining my writing skills with my desire to spread the word about good books is what led to my career as a book publicist.
The right path is not always the most obvious one; if you’re passionate about photography, becoming a photographer isn’t your only option. Whether you keep your occupation, but shift your industry or launch a new company from the ground up, it’s possible to enjoy the 45+ hours each week. Don’t settle for being the 70%.
Dana Kaye is the owner of Kaye Publicity, a boutique PR company specializing in publishing and entertainment. Known for her innovative ideas and knowledge of current trends, she frequently writes and speaks on the topics of social media, branding, and publishing trends. For more, visit www.KayePublicity.