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Reads for Changemakers
I get that it’s a bit cliche: “do what you love.”
We hear it for so long, ever since we were little. Our parents and teachers would advise us to focus on what we love and create a life out of it.
The thing is…
As soon as we hit semi-adulthood, their advice changes.
And it’s no longer speeches of great people following their dreams and doing what they love but instead replaced with a seemingly scripted narrative about how we need to be realistic.
Go to college to get a good paying job.
You can just have hobbies you enjoy.
My thoughts on all of ^ that? It’s bullshit. It’s toxic, and I’ll explain why below.
But this shit is so real for me. Growing up, I wanted to be an actress. I was obsessed with it and would spend hours going over monologues, acting them out in my room, even making up my own stories.
And people in my life supported this!…
Until high school came around. Because when I was 8 and doing an English accent and waving a stick around like a wand, cursing my annoying older brother, it was cute.
But when I was 17 and still refusing to prep for college…suddenly teachers and parents and grandparents were like, “But wait…you can’t do that.”
Now, to be fair, I realized after a few years that I would not enjoy acting for real. It’s much different than goofing off in your room in front of a mirror.
BUT, my point still stands.
I was encouraged to pursue my dreams…but only until it clashed with someone else’s limiting beliefs.
It wasn’t until I learned to say “fuck them” that I really started to thrive in my life.
Here are tips for why and how to do what you love:
There are so many pieces of advice out there that say not to do what you love.
Hell, as of writing this, the first Google result for “do what you love” is an article about why you should ignore that advice.
But the problem with everyone being miserable shits is that they’re doing exactly that.
Growing up to think we can do anything we want, especially something we love, only to have it ripped away by bitter, “realist” adults can throw a wrench in our lives.
The thing is: doing what you love doesn’t mean you need to force a career out of a hobby, nor does it mean you’ll end up hating what you once loved because you do it all the time.
It’s about discovering what you enjoy and finding ways to use that in a career so you’ll be fulfilled…
instead of dragging your feet through the door each night and collapsing due to mental fatigue because you hate what you do.
Why should you do what you love?
I could list so many reasons to do what you love but I’ll stick to a few of the most important ones.
In case you’ve been brainwashed for too long (which is most of us, let’s be real), here is why you should do what you love.
1. It’s fulfilling
One of the biggest reasons people are unhappy is because they’re not fulfilled.
And maybe this is you.
Do you feel like you’re wasting your life? Like you have so much more to give but can’t because you have to go to that damn job every day?
This is actually super common. When I worked in human resources, I went home drained. Exhausted. I felt like I was wasting away and time was flying by while I did nothing to make me feel like I was actually contributing to anything.
This is the gap.
By doing what you love, you won’t feel like you’re wasing your life.
You’ll feel like your life is being lived instead of like you’re just going through the motions.
2. You’ll have more energy
Raise your hand if your job drains you.
So many people can’t get their life in order because they come home drained. They have no energy to make a healthy dinner.
No drive to exercise to heal their mind and body.
No desire to work on any of their other fulfilling hobbies because their job has taken all their energy.
It sucks. It’s so hard. And that’s why you have to find and build a career you truly enjoy.
Because what happens when you do what you enjoy all day?
Your energy tank is filled.
Think of it like this: an introvert can’t spend all day socializing without becoming drained and an extrovert can’t spend too much time by themselves without exhaustion creeping in, right? Right.
It’s the same with doing what you love.
When you’re in a state where you enjoy what you do, your mind is engaged, your body is excited to be there, and your energy tank actually fills up.
You might think it would be the opposite but when you’re in a career you don’t enjoy, it takes all your energy to stay alert and focused. And that’s why you go home SO DAMN TIRED.
Action step: think about a time where you had a bunch of energy. It seemed like you could go all day long and were excited to be there? (comment this down below too–writing something down helps it stick!)
3. It’ll rub off on people around you
At my job (Self-Publishing School), we talk a ton about impact.
Just how much we can influence those around us without even trying or thinking about it (and really how writing a book can expand this significantly).
Did you know that doing what you love can make those around you happier, more fulfilled, and impact them to make the same change?
It might seem silly, but picture this for me:
You wake up in the morning happy, excited even. Getting out of bed is easier, and so you have more energy (and time, without hitting that snooze several times!) to make a healthy breakfast.
Your roommate/partner/kids come down to see you’ve got a plate full of healthy brain-food, a steaming cup of coffee, and are motivated to do the same.
Your day is increasingly better after a full meal packed with nutrients, and your roommate/partner/kids discover that theirs is, too.
They start thinking about what their life would look like if they could do that every day. They start contemplating how to make that happen because damn it looks good to be in a happy mood first thing in the morning.
From there, they start exploring how to find what they love (which I cover below!), and soon, they’re waking up right along with you. Where you two chat about new findings, your lives, and ultimately, you grow much closer as a result.
All because you made the choice to pursue what you love in order to better your life.
Sound good? It is! And yes, this really happens.
A couple months ago, my cousin came to visit. She’s a year or so younger than me (I’m 25 right now), and she was struggling in a job she really didn’t like.
Her days were exhausting. She even had to work a second job she disliked just to make ends meet.
After a couple days in my home, watching my routine, seeing a fridge packed full of produce, as well as witnessing the balanced lifestyle I’ve created…
She went home and quit her job.
Now, she works with kids and is so excited to go to work every day, helping shape the minds of those who will be taking care of all of us in our old age.
Disclaimer: I don’t really encourage that you go around telling people to quit their jobs. Most people can’t and I didn’t say a damn thing about leaving her job (directly). She saw my life, what I had created by doing what I truly enjoy, and decided to make a change on her own. I maaaaay have challenged her when she was complaining about not enjoying her job, but that’s it!
So while dong what you love is sooooo important for you, it can also help better the lives of those around you, and the lives of people around them.
How do you find what you love to do?
Okay, okay. I’ve prattled on long enough about why you need to do what you love but…
What do you do if you just…don’t know what you love to do?
This is hard. It seems like it should be easy. You like something, you do it. But that’s not how it works and it can be a lot more complicated to find what you’re truly passionate about and then actually make a career and build a life around it.
Here are some of my best tips to find what you love to do.
1. Take note of when you have the most energy
When you’re doing what you love, your mind and body is engaged. It feels like you could go all day without getting tired and sometimes…
you might even forget to eat!
Okay, maybe not that (for everyone), but I really want you to start focusing on when you have the most energy, when do you feel like your attention is focused and you’re just in the zone?
Those activities are the ones you actually enjoy the most!
Like I mentioned above, the activities that actually give you energy are the ones you love and should be focusing on.
When I’m writing, I hardly notice the time passing. My only focus is on the writing, what I’m saying, the words that are flying from my fingers (and sometimes how astonishing my typing speed is!).
Doing this hypes me up. I get excited and invigorated. The more I write, the more excited I get—about how people will receive it, how much it can help someone else, and how enjoyable it is to get all this stuff that’s stuck in my head, out into words.
What is that for you? What excites you no matter how many times you’ve done it?
2. When do you lose track of time?
Have you heard of “flow state”?
It’s a big thing going around and basically just describes when you’re so focused and in the zone, you lose track of mind.
It’s like you have blinders on and can only see or hear or feel what you’re doing in that moment.
Those are the things you should spend your life pursuing (assuming they’re not causing you or anyone else any harm because like…drugs can cause that same effect but are not the same).
So what is this for you? You might not even notice when it’s happening so the next time you didn’t hear someone call your name because you were so focused, write down what you were just doing.
In fact, write down why you were so focused. What task had your complete attention that way?
Activities in this area are the ones that will make your life the most fulfilling. When you’re engaged in such a way, you feel like your time isn’t wasted and you won’t go home exhausted and drained.
3. What do other people notice you enjoy?
The thing about doing stuff we love is that sometimes we don’t even realize how “in the zone” we are.
Because nothing is impacting us negatively in that moment, it can be hard for those times to stick in our minds the way doing something we hate does.
We’re often so close to our passions, we don’t even realize they’re what we love to do the most.
For example, I never really knew that writing was something I truly, really loved. I’d always made good grades in school in the subject, but I was a high performer all around, so it never really stuck out.
But when I was 19, living in a new city, and starting another waitressing job that made me want to peel my fingernails off, one-by-one, because it would be more enjoyable than plastering on a fake smile and bringing rude strangers their food, I needed to find something else.
So I, like many millennials, took to Google and typed in: Work from home jobs.
The term “freelance writing” popped up and a lightbulb went off. I figured, what the hell? I’ve always been good at writing. I know computer stuff and have been interested in blogging since I was 14.
After landing my first few clients, writing about stuff I actually enjoyed, I realized that all my time reading, all that time flying through writing stories in classes was pointing me in this direction.
I truly love writing. And it took my own desperation to escape the service industry (something I’m just not cut out for after having worked in it for 5 years) to figure that out.
Now, this wasn’t necessarily someone else pointing out what I love. But it was a situation where I didn’t realize that what I love to do was right in front of my nose all along.
But when I told my friends and family it’s what I wanted to do, they were all…not surprised. Their reactions were “Oh yeah, that makes sense.” Because they saw my love for it before I even did.
4. Try a lot of things
One of the sad realities of life is that people can go their wholes lives without discovering their passion…simply because they just don’t try stuff.
How do you know if climbing mountains is your passion unless you try it?
There are things I love doing that I never thought I would until I tried them—like blogging, SEO, writing, and all that good stuff.
Now, I couldn’t try a lot of things growing up. We were broke as shit with 6 kids in the family (8 during some holidays and the summer). So my options were super limited until I got older and gained some freedom.
Trying things doesn’t have to cost money, either.
What are some things you always thought looked fun or interesting? Have you ever tried writing a book?
Have you ever taken a dance class or tried to copy a routine from a Youtube video?
Have you ever went out of your way to offer someone advice and found that you were really good at talking them through it?
Trying new things can help you discover passions that you just can’t know if you don’t try it.
It’s like food. If you’ve never tried something before, you’ll never know if you like or don’t like it. That’s just a fact.
So I challenge you to try something. Even write in the comments something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t been able to!
Let’s get some goals in place to make it a reality 😉
5. Narrow down what you hate doing
What you love doing will likely be very far away from stuff in your “I hate this” zone, which makes the process of elimination much easier!
This way, you won’t even try stuff you know falls into a category of stuff you usually hate doing: like paperwork.
When I was in human resources, the paperwork made me want to slam my head into the wall. Repeatedly.
And that was 80% of my job.
So when I quit to move and become a nanny (and freelance writer!), I knew I couldn’t look for a job with those same things.
I also discovered that working in a corporate environment, especially one littered with bigotry (I know! In human resources!), wasn’t for me. I didn’t like reporting to someone and having someone hover over my every move.
I’m fiercely independent. Years as a child being responsible for myself and younger sisters made that so (I mean, my mom had too many kids to cater to each of our needs, so I often did shit by myself).
Which meant working with a ton of other people or reporting to a strict supervisor was not for me. And that’s why I initially Googled “work from home jobs” so I could be my own boss, essentially.
Now, I do work for a company currently, but it’s 100% remote. And my boss? Super hands-off, so while I still report to him, it’s still like I’m my own boss, and I make my own schedule with what I do and when.
So long as I’m getting my shit done, I get left alone to do what I do best.
And that’s what I need, because I hate being micromanaged—a lot.
But that might not be you!
You might love the standards and having someone else craft what you do and when because your specialties lie in executing on those things.
Maybe you love assisting someone, clearing their plate so they can do what they do best, because what you love is making other people’s lives easier.
In ^ that case, you’d make a dope ass assistant (wanna work for me or??? lol).
The point is, narrowing down what I knew I hated allowed me to find a career and job that I enjoyed because I cut my list down to things that didn’t require any of those things.
Action step: do the thing! Write down a list of what you know you hate. Is it having a strict schedule? Is it writing? Is it having to be in meetings or give presentations? Once you have that list, it’s much easier to find jobs that don’t require those.
Note: Keep in mind that there will likely always be stuff you don’t enjoy about any career you choose. Even people living their best dream have shit they don’t like doing. For me? Not a fan of meetings, not a fan of email tracking and follow-up, but it’s part of the job. The point is to find something that has the smallest amount of things you hate.
6. Discover what you’re good at
Now, what you love and what you’re good at aren’t necessarily the same thing. However, we usually tend to enjoy the things we’re good at more than we don’t.
And that can help you narrow your passions.
And not only that, but when you cross what you love with what you excel at, you’ll find a super lucrative position that allows you to grow into what you enjoy most.
But that means you’ve got to discover what you’re good at.
We all have strengths. For me? I’m a great writer. But I also love helping people and have a knack for strategic thinking and seeing things in a big-picture way.
That allows me to be a great blogger and content marketer. I can see what’s working across several areas and it gives me insight into what to change or alter to make other blog posts or strategies work.
You might be amazing with people! Naturally able to carry a conversation that feels like you’ve known each other for years.
You know what you’re good at. And if you don’t, ask other people. Ask your parents or guardians what you were good at as a child. Those things usually carry over into adulthood, even if you haven’t spent much time doing those things since you were a kid.
7. Keep evaluating what you love as you go
This list should be growing. The more you lean into doing what you love in life, the longer your list of “loves” should grow.
Usually, when you dive into what you love, you end up discovering new things you enjoy in that same area.
For example, I love writing. It comes easy, but I never thought I’d love the strategy, planning, and tracking of blog information or SEO tactics the way that I do.
But because getting into a career where I write introduced me to all of those things, I can now add them to my list of “loves,” which allows me to grow further into a role designed by what I enjoy most.
So don’t stop once you’ve figured out your thing. Keep your list and allow it to evolve because you grow every day. What you love today might be shadowed by a larger love down the line.
The process of crafting a life where you get to do what you love isn’t a one-and-done process. It’s ever-changing, just like you.
8. What’s easy for you?
Just like we can’t always see our passions because they don’t negatively impact our lives, sometimes we bypass them because they’re easy.
We don’t pay much attention to things that are simple for us and therefore, they hardly ever stick out in our minds.
For me, that’s writing.
I never even knew writing was a skill until my senior year of high school when I took a creative writing class. I thought everyone could jot down what’s in their mind in a cohesive order…
It wasn’t until I had to peer critique stories in that writing class that I learned…that just was not the case lol.
But that’s my point.
What is something that’s easy for you to do? Something you don’t even have to think about but excel at?
It could be something creative, like writing. But it could also be something not creative.
Think about these things:
Are you great at talking people through their own problems?
Do you excel in seeing issues before they arise?
Are you someone who can negotiate anything with anyone?
Are you really creative and talented in thinking of new ways to approach situations?
Think about those “easy” things and even go as far back as your childhood. What is something that you were great at in school that others struggled with?
Most often, we carry those innate gifts with us through life and don’t even realize it—and these are things we often grow to love as well.
Doing what you love changes your life. It changed mine. But it can be a process to get there. If you don’t start now, you’ll only sink further into the hole of an unfulfilled life.
Start right now.