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How to find/choose/stumble upon/ be chosen by it?

Well, let’s start off saying that everyone has a unique talent to give the world that it desperately needs. You may not hold within you the cure for cancer or a world changing innovation (but you might), but you certainly have a gift.  Maybe you are a great nurse, teacher, librarian, or moneymaker. More likely you have some distinct abilities and ways of seeing the world that will indeed make it a better place, even if you do fall into some kind of archetypal/ Occupational statistics category. Monet and Kandinsky are both painters after all, but they definitely each brought something different to the world.

And what about that whole making a living thing? Most of us need to do that, but if you are likely, it will teach you something about yourself you will operationalize into finding another job for which you are better suited.  Some jobs, for various reasons, are just more satisfying than others. Variety of tasks, feeling valued, etc all contribute to a working atmosphere and a job being satisfying even if the task really isn’t- some factory jobs are reassembled into teams that produce an item from start to finish, and even though the job kind of gets to the same place, you can bet that people working in this fashion are much happier than those standing by an assembly line.  So that can also make it harder to tease out what you really love doing- your perspective on a certain job is often colored by one or two people you know who do it, or the atmosphere at one specific organization.

Now, what about the real blinders? Prestige and pay? These things do really matter to our un-evolved little selves, and all of us do need to get paid. Especially with grad school loans and the like.  Once we get past a certain age, it’s no longer cool to want to be a fireman in some circles, or would be considered a waste of your intellectual potential. Worst, we let prestige and pay become false idols and thereby enslave ourselves voluntarily. It can be really hard to listen to your heart with all the chatter and noise outside us.

Is it selfish to be all about doing the work that you love, and giving over a ton of time to the process? Why should you give yourself the luxury of worrying about it, when you know with a certain amount of income the lifestyle you lead could possibly compensate for deadness in your soul? Or, maybe career isn’t the most important thing and we put up with what we are doing because of a means to a larger end. That’s fair, and that’s what a lot of us will be doing for some part of our lives, especially when figuring out what we want to do and more importantly, how to get into doing it. This intermediate time can be great to develop skills, and, more importantly, serendipity.

You know, like Serendipity books?  Didn’t your grade school teacher who had lost her soul a decade back and was just holding out for retirement read them to you? Even though, when you consider the whole reading books to children thing, she didn’t have such a horrible job? Well, the whole stumbling into something you like thing might be the most likely and best way to figuring it all out. Analysis can only take you so far, and you might not even know of the thing you’re going to want to do yet. It’s ok to be ignorant. However, this way of doing things takes some preparation and has a few caveats:

1. Do No Harm

This is a tough one, but I think that when you are serving a cause that is contrary to your own beliefs, you might have a tougher time finding something you like to do. It also just sounds like a decent idea in general.

2. Be Open

Your willingness to find work you love has to supersede your desire for recognition from others, secure income, etc. Don’t hide from yourself what you’d really love to be doing.  You might be able to work around some of the material hassles in the future, you don’t have to be a starving artist all at one time. But you can’t let your ego conceal from you what your heart really wants.  Usually when there’s a will, there’s a way, but you have to be open to seeing what you want in order to find the way to it.

3. Be Patient, and Endure

Yeah, this could take a while. Look at this as adventure, and try to think of one person who has achieved truly great things without passion.  Still thinking? There’s a good reason for it. Stop confusing greatness with “success,” by the way. So who came to your mind when you thought of great things, anyway? Maybe that’s a clue. Could you see yourself doing that, you know, what that other people actually BEFORE getting enough fame that you knew about them?  Another clue. This is a mystery worth solving- you only get one life here!

And here’s another one:

Believe that you deserve to find work you love, and happiness, and love, and all that other good stuff in your life. Sure, a good career like a good relationship takes time and hard work and patience, patience, patience.  But if you think you deserve shit, chances are you will settle for that. So love yourself, and DO something, that will make you feel better about yourself and take you in the right direction of following your passion.  That’s right, another clue.

So, I confess, I’m still figuring this one out myself. And I have read so many articles, self help books, seen career counselors, talked to people in informational interiews, etc.  I’m writing this is as a synthesis of the best tips I have found, not to mention this amazing link How to do work you love brought to my attention by one bytebaker/S. Basu.  I also highly recommend http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Art-Making-Living-Practical/dp/0140195998

One last thing, my fellow seekers:

“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha