I used to be a photographer. I got burnt out trying to pursue a career in editorial and commercial photography. I let it get to me. I gave up. I quit.
Once I put the camera down, I let the creative in me settle for less.
Now, I’m back. In more frames than one.
24 Frames a second.
I’m making movies.
Here’s one I made for my dear friends after we helped them move to Tennessee. They will be missed.
The reward for good work is more work…
Let me know what you think of my movie. Comment if you’ve ever been burnt out of your passion. Share where you fell short, proudly.
Taking ownership is a beautiful thing. Expecting failure, planning for derailment, anticipating straying from the path… That can drive you mad, but it’s a lot more realistic than demanding perfection. Plan to refocus yourself like meditation That will keep you out of insanity.
What are you doing about it? Why would you QUIT YOUR DAY JOB?
Everyone wants their dream job, or wishes they even knew what to look for. If there’s one thing my 20’s taught me, it’s that your mindset behind intention defines both why you do something and subsequently, how you do something, if at all. I have spent the past decade listening to the world’s leading minds distill their advice into instagram posts, 3 hour podcasts, books, speeches, and YouTube videos. There’s all the advice in the world for people on how to achieve their goals. I’ve spent 10 years stuck at step one: what is my purpose? Here’s what I’ve got so far. My purpose is to show you you’re significant in this world. Let’s start with HOW to start searching.
“It’s hard to look at yourself...”
I want to empower you. I know what it’s like, very personally, to be stuck and hopeless. I believe everyone has a gift inside them, waiting for the flood gates to open so it can drown the world in the bright lights of their passion. It’s hard to open that threshold and find that passion because it’s hard to look at yourself when you’re the one that keeps walking through the doors of the job you hate. It’s hard to love yourself when you keep making mistakes and keep wasting time. I’m here to show you they are not mistakes, and that time is not wasted. I promise you, there is hope. There is room in this world for your smile and your laughter. There is a vacuum of purpose yearning for your authenticity. The world is hungry for the real you. I want to see you full of so much passion you can’t help but give it away. So let’s start with some definitions.
Passion and Purpose
Passion: When have you lost your sense of time and forgot to eat, drink, and sleep? What keeps your heart racing when you’re trying to sleep?
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we need to build upon a pyramid of basic human needs to eventually reach a state of “Self actualization,” where humans are driven to progress toward their full potential. The needs are:
Exercise: Loving yourself
Only once you meet your needs can you move onward. Think of where you are on the pyramid, in terms of check points, moving up only when the previous needs are met. My point here is to help you realize you may need to work on some basics before you’re even capable of looking into your heart. Naturally I find it easier to do things to help people before I help myself. I get stuck when I don’t have anyone to help, and honestly forget to really focus on self care and loving myself. Hint: most people reading this will be around love/belonging and esteem. Write down the needs you have already met and leave some space to think about what needs you have in front of you. Keep in mind the quality of each need you already met, and highlight the ones you want to increase the quality of. For example, you know you should eat healthier and get more sleep, but maybe you also feel you could be more present in your relationship and work on your self esteem. Really trust your gut on this one. Engage the gut of honesty!
Here’s a quick category breakdown:
Physiological: water, food, sleep, clothing, and shelter
Safety: Physical, emotional, and financial security
Love/Belonging: relationships with family, friends, partner/spouse, all varying in intimacy
Esteem: sense of self worth and pride in accomplishment, image of yourself both where you are and where you want to be
Self fulfillment needs:
Self actualization: reaching full potential
State of Flow
When in a state of flow, you are fully immersed and engorged in your task, often losing all sense of irrelevant things to what you are doing.
There are times in your life where you have achieved that feeling of bliss in what you were working on. I most often find myself late to places because I lost a sense of time. I realized the things I’m late to are things I subconsciously don’t want to be doing, and the things I’d rather be doing take up all of my attention. Physical fitness, specifically skateboarding, rock climbing, and hiking easily take me to a state of flow. Creative endeavors, as in writing and photography, also seem to engross everything I have to offer in this world.
Exercise: get lost
Think about certain activities that take up all of your attention and feel like you could do them all day. Also consult the gut on some activities you’re notoriously late for. It may surprise you to realize you don’t like meeting with certain people who bring you down, or engaging in activities that leave you feeling disappointed in yourself. Write them down but don’t dwell too long, let’s move on to the fun stuff.
Interesting side note courtesy of dear friend Matt:
Explore commitment to punctuality, where lateness “feeds the flames” and punctuality really makes something undesirable more bearable.
Purpose: What is your easy A? What comes difficult to others, but feels innate to you, almost boring unless you push the envelope?
What do you do so fluidly, you create your own cursive. You have your own voice. You understand how to be unique.
Everyone has a camera in their pocket. However, Instagram is proof that everyone is not a photographer.
Job vs Career
Job: Financial dependence
Get’s old pretty quick. For me, about 2 years before the money isn’t so shiny anymore. If you keep switching for higher paying jobs, you realize they pay more for a reason.
Work hard for years, one 8 hour shift at a time, so you can get promoted! Now you get to work 12 hour shifts at a time! I’m paraphrasing a quote, I forget where from.
Career: Emotional dependence
Some careers have a clear cut path. Lawyers, Nurses, Teachers, Doctors. They’re looked at in Immediate recognition that “If I went to school for 15 years I could be an Anesthetist too.” Not to downplay how flipping hard it is to even make it past anatomy 101, but the point is the path getting up there is recognizable. Everyone wants a path, because once you can deconstruct a goal, tasks become obvious and feel more attainable.
That is why instead of finding the dream career, I will get you focusing on developing skills the same way a school curriculum adds up to a degree. More on that soon.
Success vs wasting time
Most jobs can feel like a waste of time, a means to an end, a paycheck that keeps your lights on. I can assure you the path from resentment of yourself, straight through feeling content or realizing you’re stuck, and to an ownership of pride in your hard work lies in one word: intention.
If you think of your entire life as a budget and a resume, then stop reading and go do burpees. If you’re anything like me, you’re human and you’re inefficient and you should love yourself for it. That’s the first step really, love yourself for the glorious steamy pile of human that you are. I worked in the restaurant industry for over 5 years. I told myself over and over again, that I’m wasting my time working nights when all my friends and family are off having fun, and need to focus on a career that will solve all my problems! I plugged in different things I wanted into job searches, only to return back every weekend to pour beers and carry trays. It really clicked one Saturday morning while I was setting up my bar. My GM walked up to tell me one of our fellow managers was leaving the restaurant industry. GM, “did you hear? She’s finally getting out! She got a real job.” My GM, now caught in a backpedal, “I mean not that this isn’t a real job Andrey, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean that…” It really sunk in that time. I learned that no matter what restaurant I could work at, no matter how high up the management ladder I would climb, if I dread walking into the restaurant, there’s only one way out: loving myself.
The job you currently have is not a waste of time. When loving yourself, you’ll find value in every experience you walk into with intention.
Time wasted = Experience earned
You think pulling shots and steaming milk was a waste of your free time after class? If I took away the product (coffee) out of the business model, you managed time in prioritization of efficiency. Taking in orders from both in store and drive thru, you have a natural sense for systems and processes: who needs their order first and how many things can you group together to buy yourself that stand up straight, hands on the hips, head held high breath of fresh air. Seems simple right?
Reconstruct the same business model over one week instead of one morning rush hour. You take in clients orders over the span of a week. Rather than finishing each task before you take a new client, you group together similar tasks to serve a maximum amount of clients.
I hear you from across the internet, multitasking is easy when you have the tasks. I spent 10 years changing what I want to be when I grow up. You may not want to take clients or multitask, but odds are, you’ve been training for your dream job this whole time. The answer is right in front of you. You just need to hear about it enough until it clicks. So if you’re like me, now you’re ready to start working with intention.
Your current job/situation can quickly become an experiment once you accept how fluid your job can be.
Those without flexibility in their lives (if you have children, if you’re battling a DUI, if finances are against you) can be all the more intentional, prioritizing what changes to make in order to move toward one of a few things.
Before you tell me it’s impossible, I’ve lived by a principal since I middle school: Even the busiest CEOs and creatives eat, sleep, and breathe. Gary Vaynerchuck and Casey Neistat found a way to make it happen. No matter how stuck you feel, I know you can make time for self love. Maslow has the foundations all written out for us. Knowing where we are gives us the first steps in movement toward being ready for our own capabilities.
Your job(s) as an acquisition of specific skills
Each position in the world: retail, service, maintenance, communication, management, etc. holds value and can be targeted like a good compound exercise or sport can target a group of muscles for development.
Skateboarding seems pretty simple until you break down the posterior chain strengthening happening; not to mention the twitch muscle fibers constantly activating. Rock climbing tricks you into forgetting how great of a workout it is for your tendons/ligaments, back, and joint mobility.
Just like the physicality of exercises build muscle and confidence in your body, your experience in different avenues of your job progression build and sculpt your knowledge and skills.
“…The Secret to a Long and Happy Life.“
There is a Japanese term called ikigai – “The secret to a long and happy life.”
The term combines an ideal lifestyle containing:
What you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can get paid for.
Where you’re missing a link, locate skills in yourself that you need to develop, and pursue them through creative approaches
It’s important to add, I may not have experience in every industry, but my examples come from a couple I’ve been in for long enough to get my 10,000 hours of repetition in. These examples will feature a restaurant example and a freelance photography example. The restaurant example allows for you to develop yourself on someone else’s dime with little to no risk. The Photography example involves a little entrepreneurship and some more risk, but so much greater reward.
Developing talking to strangers
Serving/bar tending with customers that come to you
Reaching out to strangers to find ones interested in buying what you‘re capable of.
Developing financial fluency
Any job handling money with a cash register you’re responsible for balancing at the end of your shift.
Any sale you can make on the side where you have to bill or invoice someone for payment and keep track of your sales for tax season.
Developing building hands on knowledge and skills
Entering a job with a training program, extensive and comprehensive where someone leads you through the necessary steps.
Picking up a new piece of equipment and learning how to use it to it’s full potential until you become limited by it.
Just like every story has already been told, every job has the same principals.
You have something that you sell for more than it costs you.
You can make things cheaper for you through refinement of efficiency.
Make yourself more valuable, with diverse skills and experience.
Eventually you’ll outgrow selling yourself to a job, where you help someone build their dreams, and you’ll begin building yours.
Until you’re there, there’s way less risk developing yourself under someone else’s costs.
Through developing these skills, you’ll open doors for yourself you didn’t know existed, I guarantee it.
Exercise: Hammer and Chisel
You’ll find there are some skills you dislike working on
List those in your journal
We are looking for commonalities between these, and revealing what kind of work you’d realistically love doing.
For example, If you’re more into the sales acquisition side or management of operations or analysis you’ll know based on what skills are needed to accomplish these aspects of the business you’re in.
Those skills that you’re in love with are the bread and butter we are looking for here. The idea is to take those few truly lovely skills and think of a job where those skills plug into and can be refined so that you have complete control to essentially just focus on that skill. Even If you’re a jack of all trades, I bet there’s still one tool in your toolkit that’s your favorite.
In the restaurant industry, I loved the technical aspect of learning recipes as a bartender and refining my skills in making delicious cocktails. As a manager I loved planning and analysis of staff metrics on our company goals. Yes, I was the weirdo that loved meetings.
It was the same in my photography business. I didn’t care for client acquisition or managing schedules, but I loved knowing everything about my camera and lenses as well as applying that into a smooth experience on the day of a shoot. I loved planning the business goals on a step by step basis and looking into strategies on how to get there.
I’ve come to find I love planning an interview with someone to set a path in finding their passion or learning how they found it. I then love analyzing and distilling that information into easily digestible nuggets here for you! Of course, there is a lot more that goes into an interview and taking that to a written presentation. The foundation of it, however, is exactly what I believe is the core of my interests. The better I get at it, the less of the extra parts I’ll have to focus on.
Throughout the past 10 years of my self help education, I found help with everything having to do with following my passion except for one thing: how to find it.
Finding your passion is not a race.
It’s honestly not even required to live a happy fulfilling life. If you’re anything like me though, you’re armed with tons of tools and plenty of examples of success around you.
The one missing link: the passion itself to focus the magnifying glass on.
Through self love you’ll get yourself ready to start looking at your skills for ones that stick out. You’ll be able to go into work today, tomorrow, and every time after with intention on developing those skills.
It’ll click one day, something where those skills shine brightest. Until it clicks, just keep refining what you have, because
You’re a beautiful human with all the knowledge already inside you.
To my dear friends and family who help me with their support and words of encouragement. I can’t thank you enough.
Editorial help and review: Kyrie, Karina, and Matt.