In The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood imagines her life as a fig tree, with each fig representing a career and future alternatives. She dreams of being a poet, a professor, an editor, travelling, an Olympian, or a housewife, but the more than she doesn’t make her mind up which fig and branch to choose the more she loses them all.
Life can often seem like this - a series of what-ifs - but it’s never too late to find your passion and a career you love. It’s not as easy as it sounds, however, it’s well worth the effort and is one thing that really could transform your life, your wellbeing, and your happiness.
In an age where finding a job you love is more and more important, here are a few ways to get out of that rut, discover what you really want to do with your life, and figure out which fig is the best fruit to pick:
Find the connection
When your favourite things include knitting, working with disadvantaged people, going to gigs and sitting in coffee shops what on earth do you do? How do your interests fit together, especially if you’ve got a degree in Psychology which you think is entirely unrelated to anything you could ever envision yourself doing in the future? One way would be to work out how your skills, experiences and interests might connect.
In this example, a good way to combine these skills might be to create a place for disadvantaged people (young people, homeless people, people who struggle with their mental health) to come and sit together (in a coffee shop with music on in the background) and gain skills and qualifications in knitting. They can then use the skills they’ve developed to gain employment and step back into society, while the space may give them somewhere to feel they can open up to people.
You won’t be able to open your coffee shop tomorrow, but you can map out a few steps you’d need to get there. For example, you might choose to work in a homeless charity which would give you the experience you need to understand what these people might want from a drop-in cafe, and how you might go about setting it up. It would also give you goals to work towards, and a reason for going to work in the morning.
Investigate your experiences
If you are not sure what your passion is, think about what you’ve enjoyed from your life so far. What do you like about university? Is it the ability to find things out for yourself, work towards goals, or does your joy come from being around other people and developing friendships? Your experiences of studying can influence where you might be happiest when it comes to where you want to work. For example, if you enjoy developing relationships, you might find your passion lies in a more people-focused career, for example, events management, while if you enjoy finding things out for yourself, a data analysis position might suit you more.
Know when to quit
Most people carry on working even if they don’t really enjoy what they are doing, because leaving gives them too many unknowns. However, how are you ever going to find your passion if you don’t leave your comfort zone and try a few things out?
Perhaps the best thing to do would be to quit your job - it gives you an urgent need to find something new, try something else, and hopefully give you a few ideas. You’ll be able to invest all your time and energy into this and will soon decide on what you actually want to do. It may be a tough decision, but in the long run, it will get you to where you want to be quicker.
What would you do with a million dollars?
Finding your passion should not be a decision about money, however, it’s interesting to ask yourself what you would do with a million dollars? You might decide that you’d spend your time reading, or perhaps drawing. However you might have had a conversation with yourself 10 years ago that it was a poor decision to study fine art at college or university, and now you are kicking yourself. Lots of passions can be turned into a career, and with hard work, in this case, setting yourself up as a freelancer, gaining skills in InDesign, etc. through short courses and distance learning you can set yourself up as a fully-fledged illustrator for other company’s blogs, websites, and products.
Try things out
If you’ve still no idea, the only way you are going to find out is through trying things out. Volunteer with local initiatives which look interesting - you never know what you are going to discover and who you are going to meet along the way!