How realistic is the common phrase, “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life?” It sounds easy enough, but not all of us have the luxury to make a career out of what we are passionate about. Some of us don’t even know what inspires us.
One way to find out what your passions are is to reflect and listen to feedback. This will help you identify your interests and turn them into a career. Another way to define your expertise is to build a personal brand. This tactic will help you recognize your skills and values by giving you an overall better sense of self. You might even uncover a new passion from investing the time in self-reflection.
But what comes next?
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when deciding if your passion is a good career choice:
1. Do I have the skillset?
The first step in deciding whether you should pursue a specific career is identifying if you have the necessary skillset.
Take time to reflect on the skills you have. You should see whether they correlate with a career path that makes you employable. Be honest with yourself and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Making a list of your hard and soft skills is a great place to start.
For example, if you are passionate about helping people, you could pursue a career in the healthcare field. Then ask yourself if you fit the characteristics and demands of the career. If you want to be a nurse, are you a people person? Can you provide medications and draw blood without getting squeamish? If you’d prefer a more behind-the-scenes role in health care, would you be okay looking at a screen for much of the day if you’re in a health care billing and coding position?
2. Is there market demand?
Are you passionate about becoming an Olympic swimmer or an astronaut? Unless you’ve been training and practicing most of your life and can be one of the few who attain these positions, try again. Without market demand, following your passion and making it your next career move can be extremely challenging. In the words of your mother, you need to be realistic.
One way to start is to research how your passion could apply to careers in demand now and likely will be in the future. Check out the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to see what jobs are growing and how they could tie in your interests. For example, according to the BLS, employment opportunities for information security analysts is projected to grow by 31% through 2029, which is well above the national average for all careers. This assures you that there will be employment opportunities if your passions align with IT management or cybersecurity.
Visiting the Herzing Career Development Center is another way to learn if there is a demand for workers in a field that correlates with your passion. Talking to a career advisor and connecting with people in your desired industry can give you a better outlook on the opportunities. Even if your dream job exists and there is a demand, there’s never a 100% guarantee of getting it. That’s why it is important to do your homework, learn to compromise and identify what the market needs to make your dream a reality.
3. Is it feasible?
Once you have done your research, it’s time to figure out exactly how you can make it all happen. Do you have the time to go back to school? Can you afford it? Can you manage responsibilities with your school and your work? Before committing to a four-year program or even one that takes just 12 to 20 months, consider the balancing act that might come along with it all.
For example, in a recent Alumni Spotlight, Holly Bell recognized that a fast track program like the 12-month Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) would make her dream of becoming a nurse possible. “I was fortunate enough not to have to work while earning my degree,” she said. “But I did have a 2-year-old at the time. I had to shift a lot of responsibilities to my fiancé so I could study, and there was a lot of late-night studying.”
Explore all of the options and ask yourself if you can really do it all. Maybe that answer is simple, or maybe it is more difficult. Nonetheless, it is a real and necessary question that you must ask yourself if you intend to pursue your passion.
If you find yourself stuck in a career that you aren’t happy with, step back and re-evaluate. There’s a reason why “follow your passion” is so popular. With the right preparation, you can make it work. Assess your interests and skills, then discover your realistic options in the market before stepping into the muddy waters.
With a can-do attitude, a realistic perspective and a great deal of self-reflection, you will know if following your passion is the right move for you and how to make those dreams a reality.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.