There's a sophisticated, time-tested, Nobel prize winning formula of the utmost algorithmic complexity. It goes something like this.
- Find something you don't love.
- Figure out what you wish were different about it.
- Make a list of things you want in a job, starting with that thing.
- Rinse & repeat.
Not to be glib or anything.
But I've thought about this a great deal lately and I'm now convinced that this is the only foolproof strategy to move closer to the shit you don't hate.
#1: What you love will change constantly (if you're like most people). So your work here is never done. How wonderful.
#2: Think of this is a chart where you're going from point A not to point B, but from point A to an asymptotic progression that never quite reaches conclusion. Because no job will contain only things you enjoy while excluding all the things you don't. (I think. IDK. What do I know.)
Doesn't this make sense?
Some things that make it easier to figure out what's on your list. i.e. what to do when you're really, really stuck:
- Think really hard about what Your Thing is. Then, relax completely. Soften. The idea is to stop forcing and let the question get some air, for goodness's sake (if only someone had told me this a year ago).
- Play. Do stuff that feels like the opposite of work. It will give you clues.
- Trust your hunch. If someone gives you two shots of tequila, tells you not to think and say the first answer that comes to mind, and asks you the question, "What do you really want to do?" then what would you say? Sometimes, we know. And we just don't have the courage to admit what we like. Definitely another thing I wish I knew.
- Trace patterns. Even if you think you are the one person in the world who has no "Thing," you still like certain things more than others. You have preferences and aversions, being human and all. Identify them. List them. You're getting warmer.
- Don't judge the answer. It's also easy to dismiss the answer with the internalized judge-y voices of an unapproving parent, thereby skipping over the truth in search of a more convenient truth. Don't do that. You love what you love, and deserve to. Give yourself permission (because I tried to find someone else to anoint me with permission, and it turns out no one really ever does that except you).
Cheers. And definitely try the tequila method.