What To Do When Your Career Doesn’t Match Your Interests

Seven concepts to help you find a new path.

A reader recently reached out to me for some advice.

After almost a decade working as a chef, he wanted something different in life and was sifting through his varied interests to figure out how to reinvent himself and his career.

He’s learning to code, deeply interested in Eastern philosophy, and has dabbled in music and art for years.

He’s considering launching a YouTube channel, but worries, “Who wants to listen to me?”

It all feels chaotic to him right now and he’s not sure how to find direction and move forward.

I’m sharing what I suggested to him in the hopes it can help you if you find yourself similarly lost or confused…

1. Don’t get bogged down looking for the “right” path to pursue.

There are infinite paths you can choose and you can be successful/happy with any of them.

Instead of looking for the “right” path, pick a path and figure out how to make it “right.”

Keep in mind whatever you pursue, you can always change directions again — and you probably will multiple times over the years.

2. Watch this video.

And think through which of your interests fall into which category.

3. Experiment with your different potential paths in small doses.

Get a feel not just for your interest in each path, but for what it would be like to actually do them for a living.

For example, if you want to know what it would be like to be a freelance web developer, go get one client and try it out.

If you want to try out game development, go develop a simple game and see how it feels.

The best way to figure out if you want to do something is to actually do it.

Read this: Nobody Can Stop You From Getting Your Dream Job

4. Keep in mind there’s a difference between doing a thing and doing that thing as a job.

You may like web development, but having your own web development agency or freelance business may require spending as much time marketing the business and dealing with logistics as it does doing actual web development.

Making music is different from building a music career.

Studying philosophy is different than teaching philosophy.

This isn’t to discourage you from pursuing these things, but it’s a reminder that as you consider your options you should keep in mind what the actual job version of them will be.

Don’t assume you’ll like a career doing X because you’re interested in X.

5. In order to figure out where you want to go, it’s helpful to consider how you got to this point.

Read this: How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You) – Wait But Why

6. Don’t ever think, “Who wants to listen to me?”

Every creator, every artist, and everyone who has ever made anything has that same voice in their head — especially early on in their work.

They wonder what qualifies them to share their creations with the world.

The difference between the ones who go on to succeed and the ones who don’t is their willingness to ignore that voice, make things, and put them out into the world.

Your experiences, thoughts, and perspectives are unique because they’re the result of your own unique life.

But I’m sure there are tons of people out there who have had similar experiences and they’d love to (and maybe even need to) hear them.

That aside, who cares if anyone wants to listen to you?

Don’t judge your work on an audience’s reaction to it — especially when you’re just starting to create and share things.

The goal is to make, share, learn, and improve.

Stick with that formula long enough and you’ll find an audience.

Read this: Only Do It If You’re Willing To Do It 100 Times

7. Every weakness is also a potential strength.

Your scattered interests may feel chaotic, but a diverse set of interests, skills, and ideas can also be a huge advantage.

Look for ways to cross-pollinate your interests, combine them, or apply lessons from one field to another to create something unique or position yourself in a unique way.

For example, there are thousands of web developers out there, but I bet there are hardly any who specialize in developing web products inspired by Zen philosophy.

I’m not suggesting you necessarily do that, but you can see how something like that would position you in the market and make you the PERFECT choice for someone as opposed to being just another web developer.

And I’m guessing you’d be a lot more likely to enjoy work that combines your interests than work that doesn’t.

Aim for that.