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How do I find the motivation and passion for things that I am interested in?

I am someone who struggles with motivation and don't have a specific career I want to follow. I just want to live a good life making good money with a job I don't mind doing. How can I find my passion? Do I not know enough of myself to be throwing myself at the wind with no direction? Am I wasting time just looking for somewhere I fit in? Does my lack of future details on my aspirations and goals place me on the outside of the majority spectrum? I would like to hear some advice and guidance if there is someone who has struggled with this same mindset.

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Natalie’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

Hi Christopher,

I totally hear you, and I would say not knowing what you want to do in the future puts you in the majority! So many people feel this way. When I was growing up and in high school and college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. After a few years in my first job after college, I totally switched career paths as I began to learn more about what was important to me. Here's my advice and what I have tried to do: try and think about what is important to you, what makes you happy, and what you really don't like spending time on. For example: maybe helping people is important to you, or making a lot of money, or having a secure job. Maybe having coworkers who are fun makes you happy, or having a job where you can work from home, or interacting with animals. And when you think about what you don't like spending time on, maybe it's sending emails, or repetitive work. Then, once you have an idea of these things, you can try and think about which jobs have more of things that are important to you and that make you happy, and less of what you don't like. That can help narrow some things down and point you in the right direction.

Also, like I mentioned, I totally switched my job and career path when I learned more about myself, and that's a pretty common thing that people do. I would encourage you to try to not put too much pressure on yourself, and remember it's okay to try new things out even if they don't end up being "the thing."

Finally, have you heard of the concept of "live to work" vs. "work to live"? Basically, it's the idea that some people who live to work absolutely love their jobs, find the impact amazing and it's an integral part of their lives. On the other hand, some people work to live, meaning that their job gives them an income and benefits to allow them to enjoy other parts of their lives, maybe take care of their loved ones, but it is not a central part of their happiness or identity. Some people probably fall somewhere in the middle. It's my opinion that all are great options, and both have pros and cons. If you realize that maybe your goals, to make good money and not dislike your job, align with a career that isn't the most exciting thing in the world, that is just fine!

You're well on your way to finding what you'd like to do, as you're already asking really amazing questions. Good luck and congrats on taking this step!
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Doreen’s Answer

Hi Christopher - you are not alone!

Figuring out what you want to be when you "grow up" can be really challenging!

My best guidance is to take some time to think about the activities that you really enjoy doing. (examples - answering questions, creating spreadsheets, building things, documenting processes, teaching something, writing stories, analyzing numbers, you get the picture!)
These should be activities where the time flies by, where you are curious and excited, where you feel energized after doing them. Keep a running list - and add to it as you come across another favorite. (Side note here - you'll grow more and faster in the activities that you love - so once you start doing them, you can't help but get better, stronger, faster, etc.!)

Then take that list and use it to ask questions about jobs. For example - you might say - "I like to do these 5 things.... do you do those in your job?" You can also ask how often they get to do those activities.

This is a really great starting point for exploring career possibilities and finding something where you will be able to shine!
Wishing you loads of luck and you go about discovering your best life and career!
~Doreen
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Megan’s Answer

Christopher—YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Where you are at is ok. Not everyone is going to find their passion and have it be in their work. It is amazing when that can happen, but sometimes you work to afford your life which helps you afford and live your passion.

You are not wasting your time, and honestly, you don’t really have to ever know 100% what you want to do as long as you keep on doing things. I still don’t know what I want to do for my career, but over the past 10 years I have made the opportunities to change and grow and do completely different things (some even within the same company). I went from sales, to leading a sales team, to trialing new products, to now helping develop new products. While doing this I got to volunteer at schools which is something I love to do. I didn’t love my job for years, but I loved my life outside of work and traveling and the hours I worked were good for me so my work helped me live the life I wanted. Now, I love my role and all that goes with it. It took some time and trial and error because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do at all.

The motivation needs to come from you, even if it’s a small mantra every day to just keep trying. You can’t do nothing so you may as well do something and it is amazing what you discover about yourself when you take risks and do things you never thought you would or could.

Think about some things you like to do and take it from there. Do you like to take the train-people need to work on the train. Do you like to travel-flight attendants are needed. Don’t think you need to stick yourself behind a desk all day if that is not for you.

Good luck. I know you will be great. Just having these questions and recognizing what you want - to live a good life- shows motivation.
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Melisa’s Answer

Hi Christopher,

Thanks for your question and as you can see, you are definitely not alone in your thinking. Everyone likely struggles with these questions at some point in their life. You already have some great answers here so I'll just add a few things that have helped me stay focused and motivated.

Practice makes progress.
For me, I like to make small changes at a time that help me stay motivated and on track to achieving my goals. I majored in music my first two years at college. I would often have to memorize long and difficult classic pieces. But breaking them down one phrase or page at a time was easier then playing through the entire piece at each sitting. I take this approach for other things in my life I want to accomplish, like losing weight and exercising more. One small change at a time can lead me to the results I want without being too frustrating or overwhelming.

Read or listen to books that inspire.
I like to read books from others who have had an interesting journey but positive ending. Our lives are certainly an opportunity to be continual learners. You may find others that have been through the same process of finding motivation and how they achieved it. A book that is a pretty short read and I now think about each new year is "One Word that will change your life" by Jon Gordon. The book encourages you to choose just one word that will drive you for that year. This year, my word is "STRENGTH" and it has inspired me to have a plan and keep going in any challenges I may face.

Build a support network.
It can be mentors you trust, individuals who can support you in your goals, or even an online social media group for things you are passionate about.

Best wishes to you for staying motivated and working towards your goals.

Melisa recommends the following next steps:

Check out authors and speakers who inspire, like Jon Gordon, https://jongordon.com/books/
Keep a journal, or list of your goals and progress towards these goals. It's helpful to look back on what you have accomplished and celebrate milestones.
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Callie’s Answer

Love this question! I had a conversation with someone about this the other day. This advice was super eye opening for me -

I had a conversation with a CMO of a company a couple months back and she was telling me that your passions don’t have to be related to work . You always hear people say “Find a job where you love what you do!”, “Find a job you’re passionate about!”, etc. Work is not everyone’s exciting reason that they wake up in the morning for. You are totally allowed to say that work is work and the things you love and enjoy are outside of work. It’s breaking some societal norms and I love it! Definitely important to find something that gives you a good work-life balance, pays the bills, and doesn’t make you hate your life…and that can be your dream job without being your “passion”.

I work in digital marketing and its definitely not my purpose in life. It's something I am good at and something I am interested in learning more about everyday. However, I find my passion to be volunteering outside of work for different organizations. Work just pays the bills and keeps me on my toes!

Lastly, take people's advice with a grain of salt. You know what works for you and what's best for you! Good luck!
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Christopher,

You are in the majority of people in the world - unsure of where you fit. I know people in their 50's that still do not know what makes them happy in their work life. It is a gift to know what you want to do when you are young. However, most people I know who did know what they wanted to do then don't do it now. I know a Film major who owns a company that supports the creation of your online social presence. I know Education majors who are now business leaders.

I actually did not find my own passion until after I started working at a business. And I actually started by learning what I didn't like to do. (Phone customer service was not for me!) So my recommendation to you is try a job that sounds interesting. You do not need to believe that is your future. You are there to learn what you like and don't like. I was lucky enough to work in a large credit card company where I started as a data entry person. I learned that I was good at teaching other people, so eventually I made my way to the training department. Other people I knew there began in data entry, then moved into managing people, others into marketing. Sometimes it is about getting into a company and then you can find what you like.

Gloria
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Rebecca’s Answer

Thank you for your question. Many young people may feel anxious about their future careers or what subjects to choose in the college. The most important is you choose something you have interested on. You can imagine that it is really a pain if you have to do a job at least 8-10 hour everyday 5-6 days every week.
I suggest you can consider approach below :
1. Think about your hobbies, your interest subjects, anything you have interest on, etc. Identify any careers that related to this hobbies
E.g. If you are interested in Maths, would you consider to be an accountant, financial analyst, banker, mathers teacher, etc.
If you are interested in drawing, would you consider to be a designer, artist, art teacher, etc.
2. Find out more on these careers and pick a few careers you have interest on it
3. Speak to something who are working in these industries or seek advice from your mentor, school career counselor, your parents, etc.
4. Shortlist 1-2 careers you would like to pursue
5. Explore the entry criteria of the relevant subjects in the college
Having said that, people may change their careers in their life time. It may because of the change of interest, emerges of opportunities, etc. It is not necessary to work on only career in life time.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
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Nora’s Answer

Think about your hobbies and activities but most important, how do you feel in doing this activities. Are they giving your energy, are they feeling natural to you. Use the student time to explore areas and jobs as a working student. Find a mentor or coach, who can help you to find your way!
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