A lot of articles talk about pursuing your dreams- finding courage, going against the stream, feel the fear and do it anywhere.
But the question comes, how do you know what you want to do? How can you identify what your dreams are? That remains the million dollar question-
“What exactly do I want in life?”
“What am I sent down here to do?”
Andrew Matthews in his book ‘Follow Your Heart’ addressed this question. His advice is to look for clues of what you like to do in childhood- things that you love and make you feel happy and carefree….till you are told to “study and that it is a waste of time coz you can’t earn a living doing that!”
What do you like to do as a child or what topics that you never got tired of reading about?
Someone I know loved to read up about the world culture and history. From young, he will read and reread encyclopedias and dictionaries. That was how he learned words, Mandarin and Japanese on his own- through his interest. To him, those things were effortless.
He does not talk much, but when he has his ability of putting together facts and telling them in stories- because he seemed to understand how one chain of events lead to another. He could make samurai and war stories interesting and keep his listeners interested and engaged. How many times that you almost feel asleep studying history? If he is your history teacher, I bet you or your kids will never think of history as boring again.
But he thought that his skills never fit into the conventional profession of those days. Do you know that today, so many screenwriters and authors earn royalties enough for 10 lifetimes by making history come alive?
And so, the skills were kept to himself and he eventually chooses a ‘safe profession’ and only earn miserable income. He had problems getting promotions or recognition at work.
This is unfortunately one of the costly price one had to pay for ‘playing safe’ and going with the flow. Your skills, your abilities will never be able to see the light of the day if you have no confidence to give yourself a chance.
Back to identifying your ‘calling’- think back again of hobbies that really interest you from young and start from there. It is worth a shot even as something you would do to de-stress from the daily grind of work and life.
From there, your interest may evolve into something else- it normally does because life is a series of process. The answer will not ‘come to your senses’ straight away. But starting at what you love is the step towards the right direction.
When you do what you love, the results is a labor of love- and it often shines. Eventually, you may get job opportunities within the organization that enable you to do what you love.
Let me share about how by just pursuing my hobby, my career advances over the years- here are the events in chronological order:
—>I feel motivated and energized by crafts since I was in my teens
—> started buying materials and dabbling with crafts during schooling years
—> when I started working, finally have money to buy a computer. Spent after work time surfing the internet for inspiration and discussion forums- and was inspired by the beautiful webpages created by crafters
—> create my own website to share- my best friend helped to me to take photos using her digital camera
—> start to learn various ways to improve the layout of my personal website and grow to love to make website.
—> my bosses found out about my skill and transferred me to be the team looking after the company’s website and providing service. I spent the next 18 months typing lots of emails and writing standard scripts (this role helped me develop a quick typing speed and the fluency in writing).
—> did a good job and was later promoted to fully taking care a intranet (a job that I loved) and writing training materials and manuals and working under a great boss that recognizes my talents. Eventually responsibilities increase with working with other departments
No doubt, eventually I left the job but not because I hated my job or the people. I have mostly great colleagues both within my department and from other departments. I left because the organization had moved direction from what it originally was when I first joined. It just went against my core values.
But still, I want to use my own example to illustrate how by exploring your interest and abilities can help you even in your career… and move you to a direction of doing what you love for a living. It may look totally irrelevant or unrelated- but on the day the final puzzle falls in place, you will suddenly ‘get it’.
I mean, what’s crafting got to do with writing and websites?
One thing’s for sure, if you never take sometime to find out about your hobbies, you’ll never know, would you? This is not something you can figure out with your intellectual and logical brain. It is something that you have to get your hands dirty to know.
And please don’t give yourself the excuse that you have no time. Reduce the time you spent in front of the TV and shopping, wake up earlier and/or sleep later and you will find time.