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"What am I good at?" and how to find your passion
Professional Development Series
Students and young professionals are overwhelmed with the pressure to identify “their passion”. Finding a job that is your “life calling” or is your “purpose” in life is the ultimate goal, but is it possible?
I love this advice and think it is a goal we should all pursue, the reality is that this is a complicated process and requires effort and self-reflection. It is not something that happens overnight, and I worry that all the self-help tips are making us feel like we are behind. Here are some things I have learned over the years.
Set expectations- You will never love every part of a job. It is impossible. Every person that I have met that loved their job, still disliked some part of it. When you find your “passion” there will be a part of it that you don’t like, and that’s ok. Nothing is perfect.
Get comfortable with experiments- To find your purpose, passion, or life calling, you will have to experiment with different jobs and environments. Which means you have to be ok with having bad experiences. In our Econ Club, we call this failing and failing fast. There is something to learn in every experience. Knowing what you do not like is as important as identifying what you do like.
Curiosity- Finding your passion will not come to you. You have to ask, probe, shadow people that do jobs that you are interested in. This is why our Econ Club visits employers and welcomes guest speakers. Two of my students just interviewed for positions at companies that invested in our students by either serving as guest speakers or inviting students to their offices. If you are interested in building a pipeline and improving your talent acquisition, please reach out.
Document the Journey- This serves two purposes. First, it helps you reflect and identify what works for you and what doesn’t. I am amazed by the lack of reflection in our education system. My classes and clubs require students and faculty to reflect. Second, it allows you to share your experience and build a community of supporters. I recently gave a talk to the Omani Professional Network about networking. My advice was to stop thinking about networking and start building relationships. Relationships require you to share, be vulnerable, and welcome feedback. If you follow any of the Haile Econ Fellows on LinkedIn, then you have seen what documenting your journey looks like. It is part of our professional development exercises.
Want to learn how to use LinkedIn more effectively? Watch this video
Find a mentor(s)- We all need a support system that helps open doors and serves as a guide. More importantly, and this brings us to the title of the post, you need someone to tell you what you are good at. There are things that you do well, that you might not be aware of. Listen to what others think of your skillsets, or what the market tells you that you do well.
Seasons of Life
Over the years I have struggled to figure out my passion. I can’t just pick one! I love doing many things, I love teaching, I love creating content, I love mentorship, I love going my YouTube channel, writing isn’t something that comes easy to me but it is part of my work and I have learned to appreciate it. Most of the things that I love started off as an experiment, a curious itch that I needed to sooth. Today they are part of my identity. I guess my final tip to you is that nothing is forever. Life has seasons, things change, your passions should change too.
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