When I help people figure out how to turn their passions into profits without a 9-5 job, one of the first questions I'll ask them is, "What are you passionate about?"
It seems like it should be an easy enough question to answer, but a surprising number of people struggle to respond.
I think one of the reasons why people have difficulty articulating their passions is because they are so busy with work and other obligations. That makes it easier to ignore their passions than to acknowledge and honor them.
But whether we realize it or not, all of us have unique interests, fascinations and passions that make each of us unique. Reclaiming those passions and integrating them into our work is a vital step in the creation of a more fulfilling lifestyle career.
If you feel like you are out of touch with your inner passions, here are five questions that can help you reconnect with what makes you come alive:
Think about the subjects, issues and topics that people turn to you for in order to gain your advice, input and expert opinion. Are you the go-to person for all things related to computers? Cooking tips? How to lose ten pounds successfully? Sports? The best way to throw an elegant dinner party? Ponder what those questions reflect about your expertise, interests and abilities.
We all have certain things that we love to do and we may even do them without giving it much thought.
I have a friend who is always rearranging the furniture, even when everyone else agrees the room already looks beautiful. Not surprisingly, she also loves to read home decorating magazines and watch decorating shows on television. What about you? What things do you find yourself doing with little energy? Do you always look for bargains? Do you like to organize piles of paper or compulisively make lists? Do you visually critique other people's gardens when you walk in the neighborhood?
Think about what these "effortless" activities say about your innate interests, quirky tendencies and natural inclinations.
No, I don't mean "language" as in English, Spanish or French, but rather, language as in the topics that you like to talk about all day. Do you prefer politics to party planning, dogs over design, or sports more than science? If someone were to tape your conversations and analyze your speech patterns, which words, phrases or topics would dominate?
Chances are that you have many interests, but if you take the time to consciously evaluate your conversations, there are probably a few topics that you gravitate towards on a regular basis.
Weekends represent "me" time: the two days of the week when you get to do what you want (okay, more or less). Think about what your choice of leisure activities reveal about your interests. Do you love strolling around crafts fairs? Playing lacrosse with your kids? Painting? Reading the Sunday paper cover-to-cover? Taking long walks in nature?
How you choose to spend your free time often reflect important information about the activities that bring the most joy to your life.
In my work with clients, I always ask them about their childhood interests and hobbies. Think back to your early years. Did you love riding horses? Were you into snakes or bugs? Did you like playing hairdresser or actress or doctor? Did you create a lemonade stand or enjoy selling Girl Scout cookies?
The activities we most enjoyed as children provide clues to our innate talents; more so than the way we spend our time as "responsible" adults who strive to satisfy societal expectations, often at the risk of ignoring our inner desires.
Take a few minutes to jot down your answers to these questions and then think about what your answers say about your interests, fascinations and passions. Your responses might provide you with valuable information that can be applied towards a meaningful career reinvention.
Nancy Collamer, M.S.,is a career coach, speaker, and author of the new book Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement (Random House, 2013). In private practice since 1996, Nancy gained national prominence in her tenure as the Career Transitions columnist for Oxygen Media. She has spoken at venues ranging from Harvard Business School to the California Governors Conference on Women. Please connect with Nancy on Twitter @NancyCollamer and on her website at MyLifestyleCareer.com.