A 4-Step Guide to Realistically Pursuing Your Passion

Don't let your search for a dream job drive you crazy.
Guest Writer

Pursue your passion, live your dream and do what you love. That is the millennial mantra of entrepreneurship . . . and the most stifling ideology for achieving job fulfillment.

The idea of narrowing down your entire life’s purpose into a single job is daunting. Most people do not have a singular obsession that drives them out of bed in the morning, much less into an office. The suggestion that there are people out there who love every minute of their work simply is not realistic, which is why pursuing passions has resulted in the least satisfied generation of working professionals in recent history.

The reality of finding work you love is that there is no perfect job. It doesn’t exist. To find your best fit, though, you need to take a hard look at your experiences and pinpoint the roles you’ve had where your passion shone through.

Below are four simple steps to help you identify which aspects of your job spark your passion and how you can transform your career into something that more closely resembles your dreams.

1. List what you like and don't like.

Clear your thoughts and make an honest list of the things you find exciting and motivating and another list of the things you dislike.

The objective behind this activity is to rule out the emotional baggage that comes with the question of whether you are happy with what you’re doing or not. Many people feel pressured to enjoy their job when they don’t, or at least feel the need to airbrush over the parts they find dissatisfying. The key is to break down your activities and tasks and identify which of these you look forward to most.

Instead of assuming you’re on the wrong path, or that you are not passionate enough about your current work, take an objective look at how your work makes you feel. You can use this knowledge to learn more about what drives and what kills your passion.

Related: 11 Habits of Truly Happy People 

2. Focus on the positives.

Rather than aimlessly dreaming of which roles or industries you’d love to be a part of but aren’t, the more realistic approach to finding your dream job is to analyze the positions and fields you are familiar with. Just because you love culinary experiences doesn’t mean you should open a restaurant. Just because you dislike designing ads doesn’t mean you should avoid advertising jobs.

The biggest problem with pursuing your passion is that people tend to use it to make conservative choices or stick with the familiar. 

Look back at the column of things you enjoy. Analyze the listed items and try to find a pattern. Do you notice that your favorite tasks are linked to writing? Do you enjoy parts of your work where you interact with people? It may not jump off the page at first, but take time to reflect and think about what these activities have in common.

Related: Inspiring Quotes to Help You Get Through Your Work Day

3. Identify the roles that inspire you.

Now that you have an idea of what you like, look at your role within each of those activities.

You’d be surprised by how many career leaps aren’t leaps at all. An architect has duties that overlap with a web developer's role. An auditor and a head chef share some duties -- even a blackjack player and a stock trader have roles have some similarities in their job descriptions. Once you shift your perspective to the roles you enjoy rather than the tasks, you’d be surprised by how many opportunities are already available.

The "why" is more important than the "what" when it comes to pursuing passion. You are probably already doing at least some things that thrill you. But, because reality is always a blend of excitement and mundanity, the idealistic vision you have of what your dream job may seem further away from the present than it is.

Related: Habits of the World's Wealthiest People (Infographic)

4. Focus on doing more of what you enjoy.

The pursuit of job fulfillment is a lifetime journey, and as we grow and learn and develop professionally, our vision of a passion-filled career will also change. These steps are not a one-time activity, but should be done during the inevitable slumps that all successful professionals experience at some point.

The key to finding your dream job is to consistently evaluate the tasks you love and find ways to do them more often on a larger scale. Use your passion to guide you through your career, but don't let it push you off the deep end and into a sea of dissatisfaction.

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