In Find Your Passion, Follow Your Dreams

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about how to be happy at work even if you hate your job, like this one: 9 Ways to Be Happy with a Job You Don’t Like. Perhaps this influx is a response to the increasing number of employees finding themselves in survival mode, subscribing to the “just be thankful to have a job” mantra. Whatever the reason, when it comes to career, more and more people are feeling just plain “stuck”. And while the advice given in these articles is helpful and easy to apply, I think it’s worth pointing out that if your job really makes you feel like you’re “serving time for a crime you didn’t commit”, then you probably need to change more than your attitude and extracurricular activities.

This article, Finding a New Youlooks at several people who had to professionally reinvent themselves after being laid off – a former Hewlett Packard exec who started a coffee roasting business; a former ad agency employee who became a yoga instructor and nutritional counselor; a paralegal who now owns a dance school; a Wall Street trader who became a teacher, and others.

The point is, if you’re truly unhappy at work, you don’t have to wait for freedom to come in the form of a pink slip. If these people can reinvent themselves, so can you.

Of course, one of the biggest challenges is deciding on a new direction. I like to think of career reinvention as a mashup of passion and skill.

Ask yourself two questions – What do you love? And what do you know? – then think about how your answers could translate into a new career or business idea.

The article, Entrepreneurs’ Advice: Follow Your Passion, looks at two creative entrepreneurs who have experienced great success through combining their passions and skills. The first, David Morrow combined his passion (field hockey and lacrosse) with what he knows (manufacturing, from exposure to his father’s company). The result? Warrior Sports, a multi-million dollar enterprise that began by making titanium hockey and lacrosse sticks.

The other is Aaron Dworking, who combined his passion for classical music with what he knows: diversity (he has a white, Irish Catholic birth mother and a black Jehovah’s Witness birth father — along with white Jewish adopted parents). His great mashup was the creation of The Sphinx Organization, which works to increase diversity in classical music. Not only has it helped make music education programs available in underserved areas of the country, but The Sphix Chamber Orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall and now tours nationally.

I love this observation Morrow makes: “When you’re young you have dreams, you say, ‘I would love to make a living doing this.’ But somewhere along the way, … we go in a different direction and we start to compromise.”

Why do we do this? Why do we hang up our cleats, put down our pens, close the door on the things that fire us up and decide that it’s time “get serious” and pursue a “real” path? How is working towards someone else’s vision any more real than working towards your own?

What’s your mashup?

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