Work. The word evokes feelings of drudgery, emptiness, and tedium. Is it any wonder 30 percent of us look at jobs as things to endure, not enjoy?
I get it. Switching career paths can feel like jumping into a pit of angry cobras. That’s why we cling like errant cat hairs to jobs we dislike. Our aversion to risk keeps us from following our passions.
This victimhood is a very real experience — at least until that moment when, through force or choice, we walk away.
That phenomenon is referred to as the “Career Chaos Theory.” Catalysts like life changes, accidents, or job losses drive a sudden career change; later, those experiences are seen as transformative moments.
That’s how I look back at the time I left a position that promised high pay and enviable perks. Every day since has been awash in enthusiasm, forged on the foundation of autonomy. All it took was a few broken bones.
A Tale of 2 Crashes
I wasn’t born the CEO of a Calgary IT company. My journey began one summer when I was a student and my father snagged me an oil-sector job. I worked my tail off, putting in part-time and full-time weeks depending on my schedule. By 2007, I was going full blast.
Until the car accident. Broken jaw. Shattered knee. Fractured orbital bone.
It was exactly what I needed. Not only did it teach me perseverance, but it also made me stronger. Two years later, I ran the Rome Marathon and took time to study in Australia.
Eventually, I made my way back to the oil company. Fast-forward a couple of years to when I asked for a promotion. Once again, reality crashed into me. My boss didn’t think I should be climbing career ladders, despite the fact that I got high annual review marks, raises, and bonuses. Instead, he suggested I focus on my job. He was right, of course — just not the way he intended.
Yes, I needed to focus — but in a new direction that fueled my passion and energy. I started a side hustle taking on tech consultation clients. Not long after, I tendered my resignation without regrets or bad feelings.
Steering Toward Passions
Have you outgrown your current career path? Re-establishing your personal road map simply requires a realigned mindset.
1. Determine your passion.
This is easy for some and difficult for others, but it begins with outlining your goals.
One of mine was to travel, so I built TWT Group around that desire. I wanted to focus on living and working with clear purpose and intentions. Thanks to technology and the way my company is set up, I can go anywhere in the world any time I want for weeks on end.
2. Know what you’re going to provide the world, and start small.
My side career as a consultant enabled me to get the ball rolling while minimizing risks. This approach helps avoid a sudden cash loss. Before starting an online store as a full-time venture, get some traction by selling online in the evenings.
Forward momentum is your friend, but you can’t forget obligations like bills. Do the work, and move past the idea that you might fail. The more you prioritize each day and keep moving ahead, the more you rid yourself of analysis paralysis or perfectionism.
3. Pinpoint your target audience.
The last thing you want is to focus your passions on the wrong clients. Even if money is tight, don’t allow yourself to take just any customer who comes along. People who nickel-and-dime you to death will never see value in what you do.
4. Become a lifelong learner.
Truly smart guys and gals aren’t know-it-alls; they’re ask-it-alls. The more inquisitive you are, the more information you’ll absorb.
Research businesses similar to the type you envision yourself founding, and get an idea of their audiences — both on the internet and by taking experts out for coffee. Pick their brains. Many are happy to give free advice to people switching career paths or starting their own businesses. Just be sure to pay it forward when you’re the hot shot and a newbie comes knocking.
5. Set rules for your day.
If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll squander gold-laden opportunities. Some of my rules include no meetings before 10 a.m., trying to have lunch with someone, scheduling exercise on my calendar, and getting at least seven hours of sleep. Setting rules allows me to do what I love and ensure my business stays in the black.
If you want the perks of career gratification, stop begging for raises. Chasing down a passion may leave you with some bruises, but finally feeling satisfied in your work is worth the pain.
Originally published at medium.com