As you enter and exit your cubicle each day, only one thought consumes you on the drive to and from your office, “How can I make money doing what I love?” You derive no personal satisfaction from your work. You don’t feel accomplished at the end of a long day or a long week – you only feel the need to pretend the weekend will never end because the thought of starting over on Monday makes you cringe.
You’re not alone. A 2013 Gallup poll showed that 70% of Americans feel “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” with their line of work. While you know you must work to earn money to pay the bills, you still can’t stop thinking about what life would be like if you only enjoyed what you do every day instead of dreading the sound of your alarm clock.
It’s time to ask yourself some hard questions. If you’re serious about knowing how to make money working a career that brings you satisfaction, you have to be prepared for any scenario.
- Are you willing to take a pay cut? If so, how much?
- Can you sacrifice paid time off in the beginning?
- Are you ready to begin proving yourself all over again in a new career?
It’s not your fault that the first time around, you ended up in a career you detest. But if you want to change your outlook on life and work, the only individual who holds the power to put a plan into action is you.
The Definition of “Work”
Let’s be real. Even the people who follow their passion can have bad days. In reality, work is work. You’re not going to feel like you’re on vacation around the clock. There will always be certain aspects of your job that you dislike.
If you look up the definition of work, you will see that it entails “activity involving mental or physical effort in order to achieve a purpose or result.”
You may want to change either the type of “effort” required to complete a job, the end “purpose or result” you’re working towards, or both. But the definition of work itself will not change, and chances are you will come face to face with an area of your “dream job” you do not enjoy.
How to Identify Your Dream Career
Before you dig into the specifics of how to make money from your passion, you must first identify your interests and the skills you have to bring to the table. Follow these steps in order to narrow down your options.
- Name Your Skills
It’s not enough to simply like doing something, you must be good at it as well. Are you skilled at breaking down complex topics for large audiences? Do you have the ability to give your uninterrupted focus to a task for a lengthy period of time? Can you analyze data and draw factual, sensible conclusions?
Some of the most desirable skills employers look for are usually transferable between career paths. You may not be tapping into some of your most excellent skills and that could be a reason for dissatisfaction in your current job.
Here are a number of much-needed talents employers are on the lookout for. And if you’re thinking about going into business for yourself, you’re going to need to learn how to be an expert at many of these:
- Excellent communication abilities
- Ability to conduct in-depth research
- Highly flexible to changing environments
- Ability to relate to many different people across departments
- Solid organizational abilities
- Expert creative problem-solver
Be honest with yourself and write down a list of what your past and present employers would name as your strengths when it comes to on-the-job skills. While it’s not always the case, sometimes individuals find passion in doing what they’re good at. You might be the exception, but it is helpful to know your top skills either way.
- Make a List of What Excites You
Now onto (hopefully) the easiest part. What topics get your wheels spinning? What type of books do you read? What do you think about when you are off the clock at work – or on the clock and daydreaming?
Do you enjoy counseling others? Do you want to help the less fortunate? Maybe your calling involves working with animals, children or the elderly. Do you want to make a mark in the business world?
“Describe your perfect day” is a common exercise supposedly designed to encourage people to realize their dream occupation, but most normal people don’t include work in their “perfect days.” Instead, think about a time in your life when you felt the most accomplished. The more confident you feel about how you can complete a task, the more likely you are to feel satisfied once you’ve reached your goal. One of the most important parts of being happy within a job is how it makes you feel at the end of the work day.
- Know What Benefits are Important to You
If you think becoming a chef in a gourmet kitchen will make you happy, but you’re reluctant to give up your weekends off because you’d rather be kayaking, a high-profile cooking career may not actually be your “dream job.” Maybe you would find more satisfaction as an outdoor guide – then you wouldn’t mind working on the weekends.
You should not be ashamed of disliking your current job because the benefits are not what you are looking for. If you want more time off or just more flexibility with your work hours, do not be afraid to make that desire the basis of your career change. List the working benefits that are important to you and don’t compromise or you may end up starting the search all over again when your needs are not met.
- Talk to a Mentor
Take each of these three lists – one on your top skills, one with a range of interests and one with your required benefits – and bring the information to a career counselor. Career coaches have found their passion in guiding others towards their ideal occupations. Using a range of personality assessment tools, they can help you dig even deeper into your motivations and desires to connect the dots and find what you are truly searching for in a job.
Planning a Career Change
Even if you have a “Eureka!” moment and suddenly stumble upon an idea for a job that will make your heart sing, it is not advisable to drop everything in your haste to drastically alter your career path. A career change takes time and should be planned carefully. Even for those who have no partner or children, a presumptuous decision could end with more regret than satisfaction, especially if you neglect to consider the financial aspect of a career change.
Here are the steps to take when pondering how to make money doing what you love:
- Why Are You Changing Careers?
While it is beneficial to know your personal likes, you must know the dislikes as well. Before you leave your current job, write down a comprehensive list of job characteristics that turn you off. You want to know what NOT to look for in your next position to be sure you fit the job description and the job description matches you as well.
- Immerse Yourself in the Field
Many jobs may sound amazing on paper, but how does it feel to be in the trenches? First, look up an organization for professionals in your target field and find members who live nearby. Contact them and set up a networking meeting. Ask them questions about their day to day work life – what do they enjoy and what do they find difficult?
Try to form a partnership with experienced workers in the field. Ask them if it is possible to intern at their office in your spare time. You must gradually immerse yourself in the field before making a decision to leave behind your current occupation. You will experience much less self-doubt because you will know for a fact you enjoy the job responsibilities firsthand.
- Investigate Learning Opportunities
Does your new career require training you do not currently have? You have to know how to do what you love if you want to know how to make money doing what you love. If you simply “love” something in theory but you aren’t yet an expert on the topic, it’s time to get educated.
Look for free online training sessions and read all the manuals and books you can find relating to your new field. Review available job offers on the market to get a clear idea of the experience and training needed to break into the field at either an entry or mid-level position. Investigate possible employer reimbursement programs for the cost of tuition and books. Web-based degree programs help busy professionals fit collegiate studies into their already busy lives.
- Create a Realistic Timeline
Experts agree that successful career changes normally always take at least six months to complete. On the realistic side of things, job searches are not always as smooth as the searchers themselves would like them to be. First, you have to make sure there is a variety of available job openings where you live. If not, start consider making a geographical move to give yourself a better chance of a job offer.
Make sure to save up enough money to support yourself while you search for a job, especially if you plan on quitting your current job in the meantime. Do not forget that you may have to provide your own health care in between positions.
While employers may say they do not discriminate based on age, expect your job search to be on the longer side especially if you are older and have a significant less amount of experience than others your age in your new field. Most experts agree you should plan for a search lasting from six months to two years in general, but for career swappers that number may very well increase.
Passions Evolve Over Time
It is a wonderful feeling when you believe you have landed on the position that will bring happiness into your life while paying the bills. However, it won’t do to put yourself in a box. You’ve been focusing on the question, “How can I make money doing what I love?” for so long, it may be difficult to switch gears.
Foster Lifelong Learning for Continued Success
Your new mantra to repeat beginning today and for the rest of your life should be, “How can I improve my knowledge of what I love?” People who have actionable goals are proven to be happier, according to Inc. Magazine. Ambitious goals require you to learn and grow in order to achieve the target.
It’s a tried and true way to stay positive in both your personal and professional life – stay engaged. Remember how most Americans report they are actively disengaged from their work. The key for you is to find a job that engages you, but keeps you engaged from days to months to years.
Is it Really About Money?
A recent Princeton study found most Americans’ emotional wellbeing increased with their paycheck, but after reaching $75,000 per year, there was no notable change in happiness.
Before you decide on your ideal occupation, list how much you need to make to achieve the level of financial satisfaction you’re looking for. Of course, you probably won’t turn down a higher salary if it’s offered, but at least having a ballpark figure in your head can help guide you when making the final decision on career path choice.
Just by considering your options for a career change, you are miles ahead of many of your peers. Some people search their whole lives for how to make money doing what they love. Follow this guide to gain the ultimate professional achievement: personal enjoyment and gratification in your daily work efforts.