Scroll down for 10 questions to ask yourself as you try to figure out what your passion is, and what you can do next.
I recently came across this blog “Why sustainable investing is the best job ever” and have been doing a lot of thinking anyway about purpose, passion and how doing something you believe in can really drive you towards success and happiness at work and, you know what? I think I found it.
Like the author, I also wanted to be a rock star. I dabbled for a bit with being a journalist (unpaid) and then I fell into a job in the media industry which did pay the bills. I spent more and more time in that job, at different companies, increasing my salary, gaining experience but completely without passion.
I hated it.
So, I decided to go back to university part time and study for a degree in IT. I hated that too and met my husband who was a lot more fun than the studying, so I left the degree course. At the same time, I had relatively recently started a job in a firm that focused on renewable energy and I found that I either wanted to spend time with the man or the job, not the overly complicates maths that made me want to stick things in people’s eyes.
What was it about the role that chimed with me? Here are my own five reasons I love what I do:
- I think that for the first time, I was proud about what I did. I could say “I work in renewables”. It was my first brush with good business, and by that, I mean business that does some good. Now, I know the industry is not perfect, there are externalities of producing solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and the supply chain behind that is dirty, toxic and unfair but I really do believe in the importance of having access to power. I have seen the direct impact that this can have on people’s lives – from a photograph at a conference of the then deputy energy minister of South Africa of children studying by firelight, to access to clean cooking stoves and energy efficient appliances in developing nations in South East Asia and Africa. Access to power, lights and ICT is a game-changer for how people live their lives.
- I can spend time researching the politics, the finance, the technology and I am surrounded by clients who inspired me with their own passion for the subject. This fascinates me and has really shown me how the world works. I feel like a more informed citizen and I think that’s important.
- The money is good – look there’s nothing wrong with good business, I love entrepreneurs like Julian Richer, the CEO of the UK company, Richer Sounds who recently gave away 60% of his business to his employees, and Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard who built an empire around his own passion and whose mission statement references our planet, its finiteness and which encourages people to reduce their consumption. The issue is when people get too greedy, don’t give back to the community, don’t recognise the value of their staff, who repeatedly encourage over consumption and generally make the world a worse place.
- I am challenged. There’s a lot I don’t understand and a lot I’ve had to get my head around many times before it sank in (I’m looking at you mezzanine finance!) but that’s a good thing. I need to keep my brain working and I love the challenge of learning about new things.
- I feel connected to something more important than me. The work I do reminds me of how lucky I am and how many people would do so much better at this life if they had been given my chances so to not put 100% into the things I do seems like a slap in the face to every single privilege I have.
That’s all well and good, but how do you make that apply to you?
Here’s a simple quiz that will help you to explore your own drivers and passions.
- What do you think are the most important things humanity needs to solve? Think about what gets you really angry, and what you genuinely feel passionate about.
- Where do you lean? Towards technical roles, creative (which is not to say technical roles are not creative!), leadership, caring, networking, sales, on the ground?
- What kind of money do you need/want to live on?
- Do you see yourself in a public-facing role or something in the background?
- Who do you admire in business and why?
- What kind of work would you like to do? What kind of tools do you enjoy using?
- Honestly, what are your strengths and weaknesses – ask around if you can’t think of anything but be true to yourself and honest
- Which companies, charities or public sector organisations do you have near you? Would you need to re-locate to find a role?
- What new skills might you need?
- Who do you know in the industry right now that you might be able to talk to and get advice from? If no one, how might you find a mentor?