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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

Yes, You Can Find Your Passion Without Quitting Your Day Job

We’ve all had that friend (or friend of a friend)—the one who quit her job to travel the world and “find her passion.” Full disclosure: I was that person, and I’ll be the first to admit, it wasn’t the answer.

I went to London, where I’d originally dreamed of riding a big red bus, catching a glimpse of Will and Kate, and cheersing full pints at the local pub. Instead, I found myself wandering down a trash-filled street, desperately trying to match up the address on my iPhone with the myriad gray buildings in front of me. I’d decided to explore a new profession while I was traveling. So, I was headed to a free (borderline-cheesy-looking) personal development seminar that Saturday morning.

The rest of the people in the room were impressive, super-smart, and overly kind. Even more surprisingly, every single one of them were locals. 60 Londoners, and one traveling American—me. That’s when it dawned on me, while we all sacrificed our Saturday, to sit in a room full of strangers and “check out” a new potential passion—they were doing this in their hometown, without quitting their day jobs. Somehow, I missed the memo.

The experience was a sobering reminder that you don’t have to quit your job to explore a new passion. You don’t have to wait until the end of your career, or until you find the time and money to go on vacation: You can search for new passions every day, in your hometown, right where you are.

Sure, there are plenty of excuses we make for not being able to find our passion, but having a stable, pay-the-bills, lots-of-opportunity job shouldn’t be one of them.

So here are three simple ways to start finding your passion right where you are today.

1. Embrace the Learning Curve

Discovering your passion involves trying new things, which is tough. You’re probably not going to be the best at first.

One day, you may be great, amazing, even. But when you start out you’re a beginner: It’s amateur hour—and that’s OK.

Did you know Julia Roberts botched her audition for All My Children, or that Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because “he lacked imagination and had no original ideas?” No? Me neither. We so rarely hear about the amateur beginnings, but everyone's been there. They were willing to look a little foolish, endure the startup struggle, and give their passion a fair shot.

What is something you’ve been holding back from trying because you’re afraid of failing, or looking like an amateur? Is it starting a blog, interviewing for that new job, or joining the local running group? Allow yourself to be an amateur this month, and get started with one new thing. It’ll bring you closer to a new passion—without making you fall behind on rent.

2. Get Intentional for 15 Minutes Each Day

Sometimes we get lost in our to-do lists. If I ever sense a client losing touch with the things that are really important to her, I’ll ask her to review her calendar and take a look at what she’s prioritized this week.

There are a whole heck of a lot of grocery lists, dry cleaning, and errands being checked off, but not a lot of meaningful, fill-up-your-soul, memorable moments. Who’s got the time?

Passionate people make the time.

Sometimes it only takes a simple 15 minutes a day to help you discover your passion. Maybe it’s writing an old friend an email, watching an inspiring TED Talk, or signing up for a class you’ve been dying to take.

Start off your mornings by prioritizing the important stuff. Create a new routine that includes 15 extra minutes in the AM (and yes, 15 extra sips of coffee), to do something you know your heart has been craving. If you need some extra inspiration, my Whiskey and Work crew does this virtually, through a morning routine challenge every quarter.

3. Get Started With a Mini-Mentor

You've heard about the value of mentors over and over again—how important, needed, and valuable they are. But just like the many passions you have, your mentors will come in different shapes and sizes as well.

Sometimes you’ll need guidance on your next big career move, but sometimes you’ll simply need someone to chat about an upcoming project with, or to join you in taking that art class. Mentors don’t always have be the Tuesdays-With-Morrie type.

I call these mini-mentors: People who can show you the ropes in small areas of your life. Take the pressure off finding “the one,” and instead start (coffee) dating around for people who inspire you. Pick one thing you’d like to learn about and draft up an email (like this) to send to someone nailing it in that department. You'll grow your network, and you may even build a full-fledged mentoring relationship that’ll help you find your passion.

Don’t wait ’til you’re in London (or wherever your London may be) to find your passion. Let go of the perfect time and just begin living more passionately today. In the meantime, you’ll have all the benefits of a full-time job—career advancement, a steady paycheck, benefits—and that’ll be important when you’re ready to make a leap.

Photo of man working courtesy of Shutterstock.

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