We all want to dream of big ideas and ideal careers, but are we sure that what we are dreaming will truly make us fulfilled and happy? If you are still in your discovery phase, whether it is in your business or career, you likely haven’t quite figured out what makes you tick. You may fall in love with an idea or direction you may want to head in, but in practice, find it’s not as fulfilling as you thought it would be. Or, you may have loved the what – the idea - but not the how – actually doing it -or the other way around. Either way, you haven’t figured out what your unique recipe is for what is going to make you go out there, overzealous and energized, and speak to the world about what you do with passion.
If you are feeling this, first of all, it’s OK. And if you’ve tried things and abandoned them over time, that’s OK too. With each trial and result, you come a step closer to discovering what will truly resonate with you. It’s actually an opportunity to connect and get clear with what really drives and inspires you. In my work with leaders and individuals in transition, I rarely see people figure out exactly what they are going to do the first time around. Rather, it’s a process of exploration and discovery that happens over time, and taking shape as you become more clear of your values and purpose. Here are some things I did to get to the core of my what and how on my own journey of transition, and you can do them, too.
1. Get Your Feet Wet
At some point after running my non-profit for 11 years, I started to explore and wonder what it was I really wanted to do next. As a creative individual, I had this awesome idea to create conservative warm water swimwear for women. I had all of these ideas on it. I didn’t really sew, but I had designs and patterns in my head. I spoke to a pattern maker and did some research, and bought a book on sewn product manufacturing which I read front to back. I learned the ins and outs of what it would take for me to create a piece, from understanding how to choose the right material, to the importance of finding a good pattern maker. It turned out that making even one suit comprised so many technical details. By the time I got to the last chapters of the book, my head spun. It felt more like a career for a creative engineer than anything else.
2. Realize When Things Don’t Resonate and MOVE ON
I loved the idea of the suits, but knew I wouldn’t enjoy even trying to make the first one. The how wasn’t something that resonated with me, though I did like the big picture aspects of design and branding, and the impact the suits would have on the water wear industry, promoting a sense of confidence, athleticism, and fashion to sporty women. I decided instead I’d run with the things that truly gave me energy in the how. If down the road the opportunity came where I could partner with someone to make the suit for me, I’d do that. But until then, the how of this idea was more of a project than I was ready for. Doing a little research and talking with people allowed me to get my feet wet first, to see if this idea was something even worth pursuing. It allowed me also to discover more about myself and what I was passionate about.
3. Get Clear on Your What and Your How
In the end, I learned it was so important to be just as excited about your concept as you are about implementing the concept. And for entrepreneurs, running your business should feel akin to running off to indulge in your favorite passion. If you are in love with the what, but are not crazy about the how, you can always figure out how to outsource it, or shift your idea. If you are in love with the how, but are tired of the what, start to craft what your ideal work would look like – whether it’s the ideal dream job, a new business, or how you want your future relationship with your partner to look. At the end of the day, it’s about getting clear on the what and the how, doing the things that are true to your values, and taking out the things that don’t honor those values.
In my work helping individuals and leaders with career or business transitions, I often explore key questions to help them get clear on their what and how:
1. What’s the ultimate impact you want to have?
2. What is the best way to achieve that impact? Does it resonate with you?
3. Is the how the best way to achieve that impact?
4. Where do you feel dissonance in you career or business? Is there a value you feel you are compromising if you continue to do it?
So, as an exercise, ask yourself to answer these questions. See what you come up with. Are you someone who once lost your career or business mojo? What worked for you in your exploration? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!