As the saying goes, “Choose a job you love, and you never have to work a day in your life,” but for most people, turning passion into work (or work into passion) is easier said than done. After all, how can you tell what you love to do before you start doing it full-time, forever? Few marriages remain so lovingly close for a lifetime, and it seems absurd to expect such passion to endure at a job.
However, hundreds of happy workaholics around the country prove that career-love does exist—it just takes a while to find the right match. You absolutely can settle down with a job that inspires you, as long as you know how to look.
Consider What Makes You Curious
Contrary to popular belief, your passions don’t necessarily make for good career opportunities. For example, plenty of people are passionate readers, but reading rarely pays well enough to pay off the mortgage; alternatively, many of the most impassioned music lovers have little or no musical talent themselves.
Instead, some career experts suggest you should stop thinking about your passions and start considering what makes you curious. Curiosity is a remarkably human urge that is endlessly motivating, not to mention, diversely applicable when it comes to career searches. Often, curiosity springs from passion; for example, a person passionate about marathons—but unable to compete herself—may remain curious about the workings of muscles or the nutrition required for feats of endurance or the habits of the best marathon runners around the world. As long as your career continues to spark your curiosity, you will love your career.
Determine Your Must-Haves
However, even a career you love can be difficult to stick to when it lacks essentials you need to feel secure in your livelihood. Like a beautiful romantic partner who has bad credit, dream jobs can seem perfect, but they can make your life miserable after you commit. Thus, to narrow down your career pool, you should develop a list of fundamental career features you can’t live without. These may include:
- High salary
- Family benefits
- Schedule flexibility
- Location flexibility
- Advanced education opportunities
Armed with these qualifications, you can begin your career search in earnest, exploring particular jobs that fit your needs.
Investigate Like a Journalist
It may sound tedious, but the more research you perform on your chosen career path, the better. You should spend hours on the Internet and in the library, reading news about your industry, learning common application and apprenticeship practices, and uncovering ratings and reviews of possible employers and positions.
For more in-depth information, you should consider making contact with a current professional in your career. You can find such professionals through particular career mentoring programs or simply online. For example, a career hunter interested in social work might follow a blog written by a doctor in that field and connect with her through email. Active professionals will have more accurate advice on career strategies, and they could point you in the direction of open positions.
Look for Like-Minded Organizations
Though your career may have nothing to do with your core values, it might be worthwhile to apply primarily to companies that do not directly contradict some of your closest-held beliefs. For example, an avid environmentalist starting a career in marketing would naturally be displeased to learn his employer lacks recycling bins. Working for a company that directly opposes your fundamental ideals can be draining, mentally and emotionally, and exhaustion usually leads to animosity. Therefore, while it isn’t imperative that your employer holds all of your diverse beliefs, it is wise to select an organization that aligns generally with your life and career values.
Keep at It
After a few weeks or months—or even, heaven forbid, years—on the hunt for the perfect job, you might be tempted to abandon your dreams and settle for the job that makes you money without making you inspired. While solvency is important, you should never fully give up hope on achieving the career of your dreams. Without a consistent effort toward your ideal career in mind, you will sink more securely into an unintended job path, making it even more difficult to leave for greener career pastures. Thus, no matter how impatient you are to get to work, you must avoid compromising if your chosen career is harder to attain than you initially suspected.