“I don’t know what my passion is,” she said. “But I know I like to help people.”
I thought to myself, “I used to feel that way, too.”
We aren’t alone. I know there are other millennials out there who feel the same way. We are told to follow our passion, but how do we follow it if we don’t know what the heck it is?
I contemplated that same question on my 25th birthday. It tired me out to think about passion as a concrete thing -- if I could even classify it as one thing.
I’d been working and gaining experience since I was 16 in a variety of different fields.
There was freelance photography, working on higher education political initiatives, marketing at an amusement park, working with an organization that connected investors and entrepreneurs, and the three early stage Silicon Valley startups I worked at.
Over the past 10 years, I had been hopping from thing to thing, trying to see what I liked and didn’t like.
Each time, I gathered more skills and built more professional relationships. But nothing ever seemed like it was the absolute perfect fit. The one thing I could see myself doing forever.
But then on one sunny day in July 2015, I came across a book called The Art of Work*.
While I didn’t know it at the time, it would prove to be the exact thing I needed to get me thinking how I would move forward in my life.
It was a series of questions the author asked that prompted follow-on questions within myself.
“What comes easy to you that’s not so obvious to others?”
This got me thinking of how I find it easy to build professional relationships -- or, the dirty word, “network” -- and how friends were always asking me questions about what to do with their career.
“Do I also enjoy talking about career and networking stuff?”
Yes, I do! In fact, I don’t mind teaching about this stuff. People ask me so many questions that I’ve already resorted to writing blog posts on commonly mentioned subjects to direct them to that.
“Why do I enjoy talking and helping people on these topics?”
It’s something I’ve personally gone through; I’ve struggled to figure out my career. Six years ago, I didn’t know how to network, talk to people professionally, and all that. But because I’ve practiced, I now have a wealth of knowledge that could benefit other 20- somethings just starting out.
“Is this my passion?”
I want to help people and provide value in their lives. This constitutes a meaningful use of my time in helping other 20-somethings figure out their career, so this makes sense. I think this is a much more practical way for me to look at the concept of passion.
“Could I see myself doing this for 10 years?”
Yes, it was the first time in my job-hopping life that I’d envisioned myself doing anything for 10 years. Usually, I would see myself at any given place for a year and then bouncing. So I knew it was a good start.
It would take me another six months to finally quit my job. But when I did, you bet I started on my dream of building my own career coaching business to help millennials.
Let me ask you:
What do your friends trust your advice in?
Is this something you enjoy teaching other people about?
It doesn’t have to be forever, but could you see yourself in this career for the next five or 10 years?
These simple questions could be the start of a more fulfilling career path.
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Mimi Zheng is a millennial career coach, writer, and world traveler, currently based in Taiwan. After landing a dream job in Silicon Valley from a Tweet, friends and colleagues began approaching Mimi for career advice. With time and coaxing from trusted mentors, Mimi realized she needed to go off on her own. Today she passionately serves 20 somethings figure out their careers and collaborates with them on an action plan forward. Mimi’s writing and expert advice can be seen on The Huffington Post and Thought Catalog. I hope you enjoyed this article!
If you are confused about what your passion is, I’ve put together a list of 10 Questions to Help You Figure Out Your Passion through understanding your strengths. My hope is that you’ll go through this exercise and have a better understanding of areas where you are strong in and like doing!