How To Figure Out What You Should Do For A Living If You Hate Your Job

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When I was a kid, I always tried new things just for the heck of it. I never thought about it too hard. I simply went with the flow and followed my interests wherever they took me.

For example…

  • I spent one summer reading the encyclopedia all day because I was curious about all of the cool facts hidden in these massive tomes.
  • I spent hundreds of hours creating the ultimate Legend Of Zelda strategy guide on a typewriter.
  • I played Street Fighter II for 8 hours a day so I could beat all of my friends.
  • I spent hours learning how to fold various animals out of square pieces of paper so I could entertain my friends(origami)

No one ever told me to do these things and I did them out of pure enjoyment.

A Simple Way To Figure Out What You Should Do For A Living

In fact, I never once gave these activities a second thought and my parents didn’t force me to do them either.

And the best part?

If I didn’t feel like doing something anymore, I stopped. I never wondered whether it was a good use of my time. I never pontificated about how I could make any money from it.

I just did it.

So let me ask you this…

Do you remember back when you were a kid?

Do you remember when you pursued an activity just because you loved it and not because you needed to earn money?

Do you remember the last time you simply went with the flow and followed your interests?

What Should I Do With My Life?

What is it about adulthood that ruins everything? Do we stop taking action because we are burdened with more responsibility? Do we forget how to enjoy what we do because we have mouths to feed and mortgages to pay?

The other day, I received an email from a reader asking me what he should do with his life.

Steve, I work a full time job that I hate. I desperately want to start my own business but I have no idea where to begin. Can you be my mentor and help me get started?

How do I find my passion?

Now I know I’m Chinese and all, but for some reason everyone thinks that I’m Confucius:) If selling handkerchiefs online qualifies me to be a philosopher then so be it.

Editor’s Note: If you are new to my blog, you can read about my entrepreneurship story here.

And if you are interested in starting your own online business, click here to take my FREE 6 day mini course on how to start an ecommerce store.

Choufucius says that you have already found your passion. You just haven’t realized it yet.

Choufucius

Becoming A Child Again

One of the biggest excuses that I hate hearing from ANYONE is that they “don’t have time” to start a business.

If you look at my current lifestyle, I run an online store, a blog, an ecommerce course, a podcast and I work full time with 2 kids. I’ve had guests on my podcast who home school 7 kids while running multiple 6 figure businesses!

First off, I seriously doubt that you have no time to spare but that is besides the point. You’re clearly spending your time somewhere and the key is to figure out what you’re doing with it.

And I’m willing to bet that you’ve found your passion already without realizing it.

Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t care? I’m willing to bet that the kid inside of you still exists but you’ve never tried to embrace it.

So question number one is how are you spending all of your leisure time? What do you enjoy doing that doesn’t feel like work? Have you ever tried to do anything with it?

Steve, I like playing video games all day.
Steve, I like reading romance novels whenever I have free time.
Steve, I like to eat out at restaurants.

How the hell can I turn this into a business?

Well Have You Tried?

Yoda

First off, let’s get this out of the way first. Your problem isn’t about finding your passion.

The real problem lies with your priorities, your productivity and your confidence that you can actually make money doing what you enjoy.

So let’s address these one by one.

  • Have you ever tried to do anything about your interests?
  • Have you ever tried to document your knowledge on a blog?
  • Have you ever tried to express your opinion through a podcast or video?
  • Have you ever tried to make your mind accessible to the outside world?

If the answer is no to all of these questions, then sorry… You have never tried to pursue your passion. Period.

You can’t complain that your passion is worthless until you’ve given it an honest try.

For example…

If you like playing video games all day, I’m willing to bet that you’re “expert enough” to influence other fellow gamers.

If you like eating out, then there’s probably a group of people out there who want to know what you think about a particular restaurant or type of food.

If you aren’t sharing your knowledge, then start doing so and good things will happen. The medium doesn’t matter.

Just put yourself out there and document your thoughts.

Many Successful Entrepreneurs Are Created By Accident

painter
As part of running my podcast, I’ve interviewed many entrepreneurs who were successful simply because they put themselves out there with zero intention of making money.

Because they were passionate about what they were doing, they didn’t consider it work and money was never the motivation.

For example, my Stanford buddy Eric Cheng, who I interviewed in episode 67 , was passionate about underwater photography. So he decided to throw up Wetpixel.com as an outlet for his hobby.

And within several years, he established the largest underwater photography community on the net. Money started pouring in!

Recently, I interviewed Joe Jo of Just Kidding films in episode 94. Joe and his buddy Bart decided to put up goofy videos of themselves on YouTube for kicks. They had no intention of making money. They just loved being goofy on camera.

Fast forward to today and they make millions of dollars putting out videos that they would have produced regardless.

Pete Sveen (episode 78) was passionate about doing woodworking projects around his house. So he documented all of his projects on YouTube and now makes a 6 figure income doing so.

Large companies like Ryobi, QuickCrete and Gorilla Glue routinely sponsor his episodes for thousands of dollars!

I have countless examples of people like Eric, Joe and Pete and all you have to do is comb through my podcast archives for more!

Figuring Out Your Passions

aprons

Here’s the funny thing about passion. Sometimes you can’t figure it out unless you carefully analyze your actions and not your thoughts.

When I first started Bumblebee Linens with my wife, this is what I told her (in so many words)…

I have zero interest in selling handkerchiefs in the long run and you’ll have to do most of the heavy lifting once we get the store off its feet.

But you know what happened?

After the first few weeks, I found myself spending all of my free time learning how to design websites for fun.

After the website was done, I found myself reading books on marketing and sales in my spare time.

After we started getting some sales, I found myself doing research on handkerchiefs, linens and lace on my own volition. I even learned how to sew!

Let me tell you this. Engineering, marketing, sales, sewing and battenburg lace don’t typically go together but I started loving it all!

Shortly afterwards, I created MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, an ecommerce course and a podcast too. The rest is history!

Did I intentionally create a blog with the hopes of making 6 figures? Hell no! It just happened on its own.

And to be honest, making 6 figures selling handkerchiefs online still sounds ridiculous. And if you told me that I was going to make almost 700K blogging this year? I would have slapped you silly.

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in learning how to start your own online store, click here to take my FREE 6 day mini course on ecommerce.

Why Your Job Sucks

Bored At Work
As an Asian male growing up in a tiger household, I know first hand why most people hate their jobs. It’s because most people ignore what they are interested in because they don’t believe it’s viable. And most people are afraid to try.

It’s like saying to yourself, “Man I love battenburg lace wedding handkerchiefs but I better become a lawyer because that is what is going to pay the bills.”

Then 3 years and 120 thousand dollars in debt later, you hate working 100 hour weeks and being a slave to your law firm partners.

By the way, I apologize to all of the lawyers out there. It’s just that out of all of my Asian friends, almost all of them hate being a lawyer.

If you hate your job, the REAL problem is that you are artificially limiting yourself to some preconceived notion about success that your Asian parent (or society) probably instilled in you!

Setting The Proper Expectations

So the million dollar question is can you really make a living doing what you love?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

But there’s nothing wrong with working a normal job while pursuing your passion on the side. And if you truly love doing what you’re doing, then you shouldn’t have any problems sharing it with the world.

The key is consistency. Can you maintain a steady pace for an extended period? Can you push through the difficult times when you are bored and have no desire to continue?

Here’s the thing. There’s no such thing as a business or activity that you’ll never get stressed over, never get bored over or never complain about.

Even though my ecommerce store, blog, course and podcast are successful, there are still times when I hate doing it.

But I just suck it up and keep on trucking.

Your thoughts?

photo credit: Yoda ondre

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32 thoughts on “How To Figure Out What You Should Do For A Living If You Hate Your Job”

  1. Tony says:

    Steve………..the best post I’ve seen on this, simple but oh so true!

    Cheers
    Tony

  2. wayne says:

    What an excellent post! Here is some comments from my experience… really I have made all the mistakes….. take action TODAY, just a little at first but consistency is important, dont dream your dream but live your dream, once you dont like something STOP, dont invest too much money or time in something you think could be a dead end because it probably is a dead end, try many things at first if you want so you dont get dead-ended on one thing.

    1. wayne says:

      Dont spread yourself too thin though. One thing at a time.

    2. I agree. The best things happen by accident when you don’t realize it.

  3. I love the post, Steve. I believe there is magic in action, no matter how slow, and dogged persistence towards your dreams.

    norma

  4. Nick says:

    Steve,

    I actually feel bad emailing you questions sometimes. I can only imagine the volume of non-e-commerce questions you get asked on a daily basis. Sometimes I really have to question my motive. I say to myself “Can i find the answer to this question myself, or I am I asking Steve because I don’t trust my own intuition”? More often than not its the latter. Unfortunately its a catch 22 from your position. If all these poeple asking the “what should I do with my life” question were self reliant and trusted in their own ability, they most likely would be teaching the course or busy with their own podcast and profitableonlinestore.com may not be the sucess that it is. I agree with you and Norma and anyone else that has ever iterated the words that action is the key. Action even when you don’t know what the hell your doing. The best example of this teaching I can think of is a book called the 10x rule by Grant Cardone. Basically, the secret to success is there is no secret. Massive action not average action is what makes people realize their full potential and ultimately become “successful” whatever that means for them. Simply put, most people are waiting for success to come to them, when in fact the only way they will achieve their goals (if they have any) is to simply massive take action and things will start to happen. Be so busy that you don’t have time to think if your making it or not. I use my two year old as a benchmark. She is not motivated by money but only by random thoughts and things that spark her interest or make her happy at the moment. She is constantly on the move and takes massive action in all she does. Thank you for sharing this post. It was a good read during lunch. Now i need to go take massive action and sell something!

    Nick

    1. Hey Nick,
      There’s no need to feel bad. After all, that’s what I’m there for. A lot of people in the class need reassurance and if that’s all it takes, then that’s great!

  5. Lory says:

    Great Post. I am from Asian as well. I usually don’t believe myself. For example, I believe that my interest is in design but I just don’t believe that I can’t make a living on graphic design considering the competition and the uncertainty. So, I always said to myself that I should do something else. Your post remind me that simply enjoy my interest and forgot about the money!

  6. Mesi says:

    Steve,

    A great post! Two years ago while I was staying with my kids, I started my online business but was not successful. I have started working full time and am exploring my passion now. Recently I have taught myself sewing and am going to pursue it. I am excited even thinking about it.
    Thank you for reminding us to explore our passion and see where it takes us.

    Mesi

    1. Hi Mesi,
      The fact that you gave it up probably means that it wasn’t right for you. Good luck!

  7. Lars says:

    Steve, if you’re talking about the arcade version of Street Fighter II, I would have whooped you. I’m pretty sure I spent 9 hours a day playing that, and more quarters than I’d like to count. While in grad school and employed, so I had to WORK just to find the time to do it. That’s passion!

    PS You should learn to obsess on cooler stuff. Those examples sound really nerdy. Except for Street Fighter, which is obviously cool because I played it.

    1. Ok Lars….Miami Florida, May 19th….We’ll find a street fighter machine.

  8. Chi says:

    Now I know how you beat me in SF2 all the time….

  9. I SO needed this blog post! I didn’t realize that other entrepreneurs got bored in their businesses, too. For some reason, if I got bored, I thought I was failing and needed motivation. I’m challenging myself to push through those “boring” times because I want to build an income under me so I can support myself by spring next year. And in the last few days, I’ve been reminding myself of the times I did something completely for myself, for my own enjoyment and enrichment, unprompted by society or my parents. I taught myself piano by ear when I was in middle school, and I’ve always had that skill. This week I went back to practicing & it gave me joy, just for the heck of it. I’m going to take that spirit into my businesses this week. Thank you again!

  10. I’ve recently started designing postcards and I’m in the process of putting a website together (right now they’re on another website for fundraising purposes). I’ve always loved taking photos but figured photography as a job skill was about as valuable as a psychology degree. Here’s hoping I can turn it into a lucrative business like the people you cited in your article. My tagline is “De-revolutionizing the way people communicate.” I want people to send keepsakes instead of emails and I hope that interests people.

    I think fear is our biggest obstacle when we consider any business. Thank you so much for talking us through our fears and continually posting relevant content.

  11. Sharon says:

    Cal Newport and Ramit Sethi discussed the whole passion myth in the past. The gist of it is that people need to first become really good at a skill and then the passion follows. In other words, constantly seeking out a passion first could be futile. That’s congruent with your experience selling handkerchiefs – it might not have been an official passion at first, but getting all the gears aligned over time, systemizing, and then being successful with the store became a passion!

  12. Steve, do you sleep? You hit the nail right on the head with consistency. Nothing is going to be fun all the time. Even the best work in the world has some negative parts. Blogging is a lot of fun, but sometime I just don’t have anything to write about. When you love what you do, it shows and people can tell.
    Great post.

    1. Nick says:

      I think the key part was not “find what you love and do it” as that is a common regurgitated theme that not many people can seem to achieve. The reason they cant achieve this is because they miss a key component which I believe is action. The key message i received was ” Take action and do something, and then you may find something you eventually love.”

      Nick

      1. YES! This is great, and similar to what Sharon says (above)… I can’t begin to calculate how much time I’ve lost in the wander-y woods of ‘finding what I’m passionate about.’ In the mean-time, whole empires have risen and fallen whilst I was waffling!
        The main theme seems to be ‘get busy’ followed by ‘then focus on the things that are most exciting to you and build from there.’ Or, put in other terms, it’s much easer to steer a boat that is already in motion. Is that fair?
        I believe we’re only responsible for the things directly in front of us- you can’t worry too much about the hazy future when you’ve BARELY begun. Once the immediate tasks are complete, life will present you with new challenges and opportunities. BUT the opportunities are unlikely to materialize if, like me, you spend your time wandering around in the land of self-discovery! Mind blown.

  13. Adam says:

    Probably not the best place to ask, but what is different between the free course and the paid course apart from price, because it seems, like the same thing, no offence. So what’s the difference?

    1. Steve says:

      The mini course is like 2-3% of the content of the overall class. Plus the full class offers live weekly office hours.

      1. Adam says:

        Understood

  14. alan wayne smith says:

    Hi Steve.

    My name is alan smith and i live in
    Omaha, NE. I am thinking about ordering your course. I have saved most of your free course and think it might be something i might like to get into in the near future.
    I ran across a web site called doda.com that says it has over 2,000,000 products. It is a dropshipping company. Could you let me know if you have any insite on this.

    Thank you

    Alan

  15. Rozzie says:

    This is literally the best article I’ve ever read. Thank you! You’re so right!

  16. Steve, I can’t tell you how much your posts help elevate my understanding of what is possible.
    I really appreciate this post in particular. Backstory: My husband and I started a small e-commerce business last year (inspired partly by your work on this blog) and we have both quit our jobs to build our dream. So far, so good! Now I’m anticipating (with great trepidation) the plunge into blogging about our experiences. Your constant reminders to “just go ahead and put yourself out there” are just what we need. Thank you!
    Best,
    Amber
    PS- what is a tiger household??

  17. It is not about to do what you love but to love what you do. I read it somewhere and I really liked this quote. The way I see it, a person’s passions and interests define his skills and talents. For example, if you enjoy reading books, then you must have good writing skills. This means you can pursue a career in writing or blogging. Every new beginning can be tough but in the long run it is worth the time and effort. I also think that many people have already found their passions, they just don’t know it yet.
    Thanks, Steve for the inspirational post. I am glad I read it.

  18. Nice One Steve!
    I think you are right!
    I’m in that “middle position” I do not love my job. so I went on and Just Do It!

    Don’t break! every failure will bring you a little bit closer to your success!

  19. Nice post but I still believe that one of the wrong reasons to start a business is when you don’t like your job. Your may not necessarily find the right path to success because everything you do is based on HASTE to QUIT. I started my business when I had no issue with my job, waited patiently till it became profitable.

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