I love my job. I train the US Army’s Soldiers and civilian workforce how to use SAP, an enterprise resource planning system that streamlines business processes and information across the organization. This is my first and only job since retiring from the US Army nearly three years ago, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
This job finally fulfilled a calling I had not answered while I still served, which was to be an instructor. This job also enabled me to decompress from the rigors of military service.
In some respects, I still feel like I’m part of the military, but I do not have to endure any of its hardships. Nearly all of my colleagues are veterans or service-members of the US Army National Guard or Reserves, so I still enjoy the camaraderie that so many veterans say they miss the most about serving.
My work aligns with my qualifications and experiences, because that’s what employers look for and understandably so. I work under a government contract that is near the end of its scope and timeline, so my time as SAP Trainer is coming to an end this year.
Once again, I find myself at the crossroads of transition. This time, I’m a civilian but I face the same obstacle that many transitioning service-members face.
But I am not referring to the challenges of finding employment. Everyday, I look in the mirror and ask myself, ”
What Do I Want to Do with the Rest of My Life?
Most people know what they want to do if money is not an option. Unfortunately, for the majority of us, we are limited by the money and time we have or lack. Consequently, we’re often lost trying to be “realistic” about what we should do and fearful of the unknown.
I spoke with family, friends, and mentors at great length about this. I read many books and articles.
Finally, I asked the all-knowing Google, “How do you find work you love?” The result was a flood of information and most of it was irrelevant. If there’s one thing my experience as a trainer taught me, it’s this:
Too much information confuses people so keep it simple!
A Simple Solution
I stumbled across Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address which sparked a fire in me to take action. Now, I watch the last six minutes of his speech regularly as a constant reminder to pursue my dreams. His speech was brilliant, and I especially love the following:
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs
Have the Courage to Find Work You Love
Do you wake up in the morning excited to get to work?
If your answer is, “Yes,” I applaud you, because you’re in a small group of people who have found fulfilling work. What do you do and how did you get where you are? Your response would be helpful.
If your answer is, “No,” then you join the ranks of the majority. It’s very hard to quantify how many people actually love the work they do, and research is limited in scope. But just ask your family, friends, and colleagues. Ask enough people and the general consensus will be that some people might be content but most would rather do something else.
We live in uncertain economic times, so people are unwilling to venture too far outside their comfort zone. But time’s ticking, and if we don’t follow our hearts, we’ll continue to wish we could do something about it. One day, on our deathbed, we’ll wish that we had.
The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something. – Seth Godin.
Start by Taking on Small Projects
Chris Guillebeau is a New York Times bestselling author who writes and blogs about non-comformity and finding work you love. He suggests pursuing what we want through small projects and side-hustles. I’ve applied this to pursuing work we want:
• Find Your Niche(s)
A niche is something that is specific or narrowly focused that differentiates it from its broader classification. For example, a tiny-home is a niche of the real estate market. Your niche should answer the following questions:
- What do you enjoy doing that others are interested in?
- Could you do and talk about it all day long?
- Are you good at it? If not, can you get good at it?
- How can you profit by doing it?
When I was a child, I drew pictures all day long until I turned eight. I was good enough to be able to draw people’s portraits, but somehow, I lost my passion for art. I’ve decided to take some classes and take on several creative side-projects to rekindle that passion.
I love teaching and helping others. I believe wholeheartedly, that I’ve found the right path.
• Start a Part-Time Business (Side-Hustle)
Starting a part-time business doesn’t have to be complicated. Find your niche(s) and sell your product(s) or service(s) in person or online. This can be as simple as finding bargain-priced items and reselling them on Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, or your own website. Start a blog (that’s me!), write ebooks, etc…
There are countless opportunities that I’ll explore in great depth in future posts.
I started this blog as a business in order to accomplish three things:
- Develop skills and creativity that will enable me to create, develop, and run profitable online businesses in affiliate marketing, digital marketing, and E-commerce.
- Teach others how to start and sustainably run a profitable small business.
- Leave a legacy for my children to continue this venture in some capacity or another. At the very least, I hope they find this blog useful enough to apply what I write about in their lives. Maybe, I’ll be able to show them a different side of me that I do not convey very well because I am their father.
There is no higher reward than serving others. Volunteer at one (or more) of the thousands of non-profit and for-profit organizations that would gladly accept your help.
Your efforts may lead to paid work for the organization or job opportunities resulting from your work with the organization(s).
At the very least, you’ll develop marketable skills that you didn’t previously have which will make you a more qualified candidate for other jobs. You may even discover new interests that are worth pursuing further.
I volunteer with Team Red, White, and Blue (an organization that connects military service members, veterans, families, and the civilian community through physical and social activities) as our chapter’s Community Engagement Coordinator.
It’s been an amazing way to network with like-minded people, experience a camaraderie similar to that of the military, and contribute to my community.
Volunteering requires a lot of time spent outside of work and may not lead directly to paid work. However, I believe that everyone who can spare the time should find a cause or organization they want to support and volunteer some of their time.
Job or no job, pay or no pay, the reward is in providing value to others. It’s a win-win situation. Volunteer!
Follow Your Heart
We’ve been raised in a society that values conformity over individuality and realism over imagination, so we follow the crowd and lose our true identities. Many of us have stopped dreaming altogether, because we no longer follow our hearts. This is why so many of us don’t do what we want to do or even know what it is.
Is this you?
It isn’t hard to find work you love.
Have courage, make the decision to pursue work you love, and then take massive action.
I never dreamed about success, I worked for it. – Estee Lauder
How Do You Find Work You Love?
Please leave your comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!