How to Follow Steve Jobs’ Advice and Do What You Love
“You’ve got to find what you love…the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.” – Steve Jobs
With millions of views, it’s easy for watchers to eat up every word of Steve Jobs’ advice from his now-famous Stanford commencement speech from 2005.
But how do you actually follow this impassioned advice?
Of course people like Steve and other high-profile dream followers found what they love and made a great career out of it.
Still, those examples may seem like the exception more than the rule. After all, not all of us can be as remarkable. But even if those are extreme examples, you’re probably wondering if YOU can do what you love.
Here’s a guide to turning your passion into a career.
Finding What You Love
Some grow up knowing what they want to do with their life. But for most, figuring it out isn’t so easy. With this uncertainty, we expect that each stage in life will lead to new clarity in determining our purpose and finding what truly makes us happy.
Unfortunately, it’s rarely this simple. At college, we pick a major that we think is what we’re most interested in and will enjoy as a career. But even then, you might leave school to find the jobs out there aren’t what you hoped. Put simply, it’s not what you love.
Clearly it’s not an isolated problem. The average Americans changes jobs 5-7 times in life. This isn’t a bad thing; it just means that many of us are unsure about what we truly love to do.
So what should you do about it? Try lots of different things you’re passionate about.
As Leo Babauta of Zen Habits explains, just pick one of your passions, work to become an expert at it, and keep going until you’ve succeeded or hit a dead end. You could try this with many things, like starting your own clothing line, creating short films, or even something as simple as baking cakes.
Maybe you’ll find there’s no opportunity to make anything more out of it beyond an interest or hobby. Perhaps you’ll find you aren’t as passionate as you originally thought. But you may just find the perfect combination of passion and opportunity that you can turn into a career.
Don’t let credentials or approval stop you. Just try it. You never know where it may lead, and it might even guide you to another passion.
Take It To the Next Level
Finding what you love isn’t enough on its own. To be like Steve Jobs, you must transform that passion into something more. Once you’ve spent more time mastering it, you need to determine if you can transition and make it into a career.
The easiest way to evaluate if doing what you love is something you can be successful at is by asking the question: Will others pay me for doing what I’m passionate about? Or, more specifically, is there a job, product, or service I can provide while doing this?
That might be a tough question to answer with 100% certainty, but there are a few ways to test it:
- Try it on the side of your job. Even if you’re certain that this field is the one for you, it may not be smart to go out and quit your job tomorrow. Instead, you can moonlight doing what you love on the side. Offer your product or service part-time until you can be certain there’s a profitable market for it.
- Find opportunities closely related. Even if you can’t make your one passion work, maybe you can integrate it into your career in other ways. For example, if creating your clothing line fails, perhaps you can work with a clothing company that you admire and identify with.
- Ask others what they think. It’s easy to make any idea exciting and amazing in your head. But it might not be like you think in the real world. Track down others that are doing something similar to get their honest opinion.
Work Through the Struggle
If you’ve determined that you’re not content just coasting through life, doing what you love will be very tough and may require sacrifice. I never said this would be easy!
Be ready for the toughest journey of your life if you set out to do what you love. It may take years to get things right, but finally getting there can prove extremely rewarding, too. That’s what Steve Jobs and others like him did for so many years before he truly realized the payoff from their daunting missions.
Decide What Success Means to You
Of course you can be successful. But it depends on your definition of success, which is different for everyone.
If your top priority is fame and fortune, you might find it or you might not. These things never come for many who follow their passion.
But if finding happiness and purpose from doing what your love is what matters most, you just may be on a more realistic path.
Even if you’re finding traction with your passion, make sure it’s going to lead you to the life you really want.
It Won’t Always Work, But That’s OK
The “do what you love” model just isn’t going to work with every interest that’s out there.
No matter how passionate you are about some things, it’ll be nearly impossible so succeed and make a living from them.
If you’re serious about watching reality TV, finding a way to make money doing it will be close to impossible.
The same goes for eating sushi or tanning on the beach. Sure, there have probably been people who have made money doing related things, but it’s going to be a very tough road.
Whether you think of an idea that doesn’t make a good fit or you try something that doesn’t work, move on to the next thing. Failing once ins’t the end.
Making your passion a reality will never be easy. But if you’re able to find success in any way like Steve Jobs did, you surely won’t regret it.
(photo credit: COG LOG LAB.)