You probably hear this now-cliché question all the time: “If money was no object, what would you be doing with your life?” But hearing a question multiple times doesn’t make it any less valid. There is a profound truth underlying these words which it seems many of us have come to belittle or outright ignore, and yet the implications of truly internalizing their meaning are huge.
You may be a young, excited individual coming into the workforce or you may be part of an older generation who has been in the workforce for a while, wondering, “How did I get here?” Or perhaps you are someone who already loves what you do. In any case, I truly think that regularly asking yourself what it is you would love to do with your time if money was no longer an object can be a powerful tool. So why don’t we go ahead and do some self-analysis? But first, let’s listen to what Alan Watts has to say about the topic, as I think it will really get us into the right mindset for this task.
This exercise is a pretty simple one, just like the question it addresses. When answering these questions, it is important to go beyond some of the things we are kinda taught are the things to strive for. For example, letting go of our ideas about ‘success,’ money, material goods, fame, etc. and instead looking at it like Alan says – if money didn’t matter and I could do anything right now… what would it be?
Don’t worry about the whole career or job thing right now, just begin with what you like. Then think about what you feel you can contribute to the world, whether it be to just one person or a whole community (or the entire globe!). Educating others, contribution to a project, and bringing joy to others are all examples of ways you could contribute to the world.
Then grab a piece of paper and write:
“What do I enjoy doing? What makes me tick or gets me excited?”
“What would my ideal day look like if I could do what I wanted to do?”
“What is my ideal job? What does it look like?”
“What are my favorite hobbies or things to do?”
Once you start answering some of these more basic questions, we dive into things like:
“Why do I like these things I enjoy doing?”
“What about them are interesting to me?”
What this does is gets you thinking about yourself and the things that you enjoy. More importantly, it gets you thinking about why you enjoy them. This is key, because it helps you to isolate the elements of those activities that are important to you. You can then use that knowledge to find or incorporate those things into many different tasks or jobs. Because sometimes you really should ‘sweat the small stuff.’ Sometimes it’s those little details which make a job really great, or really awful.
In the end it’s all about participating in activities that bring you joy and ignite your passion, even if it’s only for a few hours a week. The key is trying not to get too stressed about the process either. Worrying that you can’t find your passion or your purpose is not going to help you find it. Have fun and be playful with it. The answer may also change a year from now or 5 years from now. It is human nature to change and to grow, and our passions and interests may change as we do.