Can people really make money doing what they love? It depends on whom you ask. Some people say, “Absolutely!” Others say, “It’s unrealistic.” And some say the better question is, “What’s the best way to make a profit by meeting a specific need in the marketplace?”
Except why do you have to settle for either/or—passion or profit—when you could go for both/and? Going for both allows you to say, “Yes, I can make money doing what I love” and “Yes, I can make a profit by meeting a real need in the marketplace.”
Before you make the bold move to embrace a both/and mindset though, you need to ask yourself the most important question: What kind work would I love?
Here are four questions you can ask yourself to get unstuck and to find work that fits your passions:
1. What are your thats?
There are two types of powerful “that” questions to determine your work love language. The first is an internal question. Think of the times you’ve said, I’d really like to do that! What are those “thats?” Start a list.
Once your list has been created, a few “thats” might jump off the page. But if they don’t, that’s OK; your list still contains valuable clues. Take all the “thats” on your list and Google something like: How to make money doing ____. This strategy often unearths new moneymaking ideas around work you would love.
2. What comes easily to you?
The second “that” question to investigate is an external question. Think of all the times you have been asked, “How do you do that?” What are those “thats?” This becomes your next list.
We often miss excellent work ideas that are right in front of us simply because we don’t recognize the uniqueness of something that comes easily to us. We don’t realize that what comes easily to us is not necessarily easy for everyone else. When people ask, “How do you do that?” they are really saying, “You have something I want.” If you can connect what comes easily to you with something people really want but don’t know how to do, you’ve hit the jackpot for making money doing work you love.
3. Can you reshape your childhood dreams?
We all had career dreams as kids, except how many of us are now Jedi Masters or NBA stars? But that doesn’t mean our childhood dreams were worthless. In fact, tapping into those dreams is a great way to discover our work passions.
In my preteens, I dreamed about playing professional basketball for the Boston Celtics. But once I realized my natural talent made that dream a fairytale, I thought about what I loved most about basketball—the strategy behind the game. Understanding basketball strategy always helped me perform beyond my natural talent and also sparked an interest in teaching others the game. This led me to try coaching in my early 20s. I moved on to other things, but years later when I started my lifestyle business, I mentally reconnected to my basketball coaching years and looked for work opportunities that would make me feel the same way. After a lot of journaling, I realized what I enjoyed most about coaching was positively equipping others with what they needed to pursue their dreams, and that’s what I do today.
Want to figure out what kind of work you would love doing? Try revisiting your childhood dreams. Don’t necessarily look for a direct correlation (if you wanted to be an astronaut and you’re now in your mid-30s, I doubt you’ll be flying to the moon anytime soon). Instead, look for opportunities that might make you feel passion similar to what you felt about your childhood dream.
4. Are you dealing with reality?
The most successful people are successful because they’re willing to do what others are not. So while, yes, most successful people actually have found work they love, they view it differently from ordinary people.
Successful people realize that even with work they love, there will be some tasks they don’t enjoy doing—like if they love sales, they still have to fill out reports, or if they love working alone, they still have to meet with clients. As someone who has worked with over 1,000 career coaching clients, I’m always fascinated when a person thinks finding work they love means never having to do tasks they don’t enjoy. Get real—this job doesn’t exist! Instead, successful people find work that allows them to invest 65-70% of their time doing tasks they enjoy.
So, what kind of work would you love? Use the four questions above to help you figure out what best fits your passions—and how you can make money doing what you love.
This article was published in July 2016 and has been updated. Photo by @SBphoto/Twenty20