Figure out what you like by leaning into action

Many people do not particularly enjoy their work, but don’t know of a better way to make a living either.

If you’re not sure which money-generating activities you might like better than your current job, the best way to find out is to:

Try different things.

Let’s say you’re a lawyer and you’ve realized that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life practicing law. Now, one of your hobbies is scuba diving. You could arrange for a two-month leave of absence, move to a tropical island, and take a dive master course. (A dive master course allows you to guide other people on dives.)

Maybe you’ll find out that you absolutely love being a dive master and it’s a no-brainer to quit your job in law entirely. Alternatively, you might realize that, while you enjoy diving, you don’t enjoy babysitting other divers. Either way, you’ve learned something valuable!

Experimentation is key. Take action. By contrast, it does not work to sit at your desk, staring out the window, while you try to imagine what it would be like to do something else for a living. You don’t know what something is like until you actually try it. And you’ve got to try things for a while, too—not just for a few days or a week.

Your change doesn’t have to be as dramatic as moving to a tropical island, either. You could simply apply for some other jobs that seem interesting to you, while you keep your current job. If you apply somewhere and you get a job offer, you don’t have to take it. Simply applying, visiting other companies’ offices, and chatting with the people there would give you a great deal of information about what it would be like to work there.

Let me give you another example. Maybe you are a consultant and you don’t like the number of hours that you work. You don’t have enough time to do other things you enjoy, such as playing soccer and going on weekend trips. You find your work interesting, but you’re starting to resent the company for gobbling up your free time. You think the problem is just the number of hours, but you’re not sure. Maybe the true problem is that you  don’t actually care about the work?

In this case, your experiment might be a two-month period of working the same job, but working it part time. That will help you determine whether the problem truly is the number of hours, or whether there is a deeper reason why you’re not happy with your job.

You need data on what you do and don’t like. To collect the data, you need to take action.

Are you having trouble figuring out what you’d like to do instead of your current work? If so, what’s stopping you from trying something new?


— Peter

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