Many of us don’t know what we want early in life, which is when we’re faced with choosing our career. So it’s no surprise that more than half of us aren’t satisfied with our jobs. These Advisors in The Oracles have reached peak success and satisfaction in and outside of work, so we asked them how they did it.
1. Try many different things.
Find a job or build a business based on whatever you like to do when you aren’t working. If you don’t know what you like, try different things. Test out everything from operations to sales. Travel and take hula-dancing and pizza-making classes. Putting yourself in a position to do that might mean working a side hustle after your nine-to-five job. Email people asking for a month-long internship to learn from them for free. Try as many things as possible, because you won’t get anywhere by guessing. —Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of VaynerX; five-time New York Times bestselling author of “Crushing It!”
2. Become an expert at what you enjoy doing.
Think about how you want to spend your time long term. Take online classes to become an expert at what you love to do. When you’re the most knowledgeable person in your area of expertise, doors will open for you. Reflect on what you find interesting and what you enjoy about your job. Is it being behind your computer or interacting with colleagues? Author Jim Collins talks about finding the intersection of what you’re good at, what you like to do, and what you can get paid for. Read about others’ careers and consider the path you wish you had. If you think, “I would have loved to do that,” that tells you something. I had the perfect job after graduate school, but I decided instead to build a company from scratch. Remember, nothing is permanent. Every decision won’t be perfect, but you can always make a change and learn along the way! —Marla Beck, co-founder and CEO of Bluemercury, which was acquired by Macy’s for $210 million; creator of M-61 Skincare and Lune+Aster cosmetics
3. Step outside of your comfort zone.
Explore your passions and what’s right for you, which will change over time. Life is a journey; so look at every job as a steppingstone toward your destination. What are you good at? What makes you happy? Write down your answers and see if they give you direction. Consider companies with learning opportunities and a boss you admire, because your working environment will dictate much of your satisfaction.
If you aren’t interested in what you’re doing, you probably aren’t operating at your best; so check in with yourself occasionally. Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same results. Network, explore opportunities within your company, and get involved in organizations you’re passionate about. Building new connections can get you to the next chapter. —Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, a real estate brokerage empire with more than $27 billion in annual sales; connect with Dottie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
4. Look to your past.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs feel unfulfilled from time to time. It’s how you channel that unsettled feeling that ultimately builds character and points you in the right direction. My suggestion? Look at your past. Take an inventory of the moments in life that brought you the most happiness. Perhaps it was a school trip abroad, a high school project you loved working on, or simply a hobby that you no longer have time for. Try to recall memories where you felt excited and passionate; then reflect on how you can recreate those feelings in your career today. You’ll be amazed at how a little reflection and open-mindedness can help you get back on track and doing what you love. Life is too short not to. —Johnathan Ruggiero, co-founder and CEO of wedding band company Manly Bands; read how Johnathan quit his job, moved cross-country, got married, and started a business in a month here; connect with Johnathan on LinkedIn
5. Get comfortable with failure.
My dad (also an entrepreneur) gave me permission to fail at every sport. And I did! But he taught me that it’s important to try, with feeling, because you never know what you’ll be good at. The more you fail, the more comfortable you become in your skin, and the more you find what you do and don’t like and where your talents lie.
So dive into your current job and identify what parts of it make you giddy. Then you’ll have some direction of where to go. If you work in customer service but have an eye for fashion, for example, volunteer to help the product designer for the next season. If the new role excites you, have a chat with your boss and see if they can help you make the transition permanent. —Michelle Luchese, co-founder and chief product officer of wedding band company Manly Bands; read how Michelle quit her job, moved cross-country, got married, and started a business in a month here; connect with Michelle on LinkedIn
6. Search for the trifecta.
A fulfilling life starts with whatever lights you up. Don’t expect your passion to be your primary source of income from day one (because it won’t), but don’t abandon it either. Find what you’re good at and keep doing it. I’ve taken many behavioral analyses and spent almost 20 years writing music on the side while working in sales and marketing. Now I’m finally starting to profit from that passion by combining my marketing skills and musical talent to write “music that sells” and interviewing entrepreneurs for a platform called “Executive Raps.” Combine your skills with your passions and what can make money. Once you find that trifecta, build on it until you can quit your job and dive into your happy place every day. —Craig Handley, co-founder of ListenTrust and author of “Hired to Quit, Inspired to Stay”; read why Craig trains his employees to quit
7. Find your own path, not your friend’s or family’s.
Most people are randomly thrown into their careers because a friend introduced them to an opportunity or their parents knew someone. The education system doesn’t show us all our options — such as the incredible opportunities created by the internet — so we have to educate ourselves.
Research existing businesses to look for trends. Identify work you think you might like, try it for a few months, and then reflect on whether it fits your lifestyle and you could do it for years. Don’t worry about the results, because you won’t have many yet. Short-term cash doesn’t matter anyway; the long-term does. Like Gary Vaynerchuck says, “Close your eyes until you’re 29.” You’ve got time to figure this out. When an interest becomes a passion that aligns with your talent, you have a chance at a fulfilling life — because you get to do something every day that doesn’t feel like work. —Torben Platzer, co-founder and CEO of personal branding agency TPA Media Group, founder of business education program SELFMADE, and host of the German podcast “SELFMADE”; connect with Torben on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube
8. Follow your bliss.
When we’re young, we often choose a career based on what others want for us. We’re conditioned by our families, teachers, and peers to pursue what they think would be best for us. We don’t know ourselves well yet; so we start on a journey to fulfill others’ dreams instead of our own. What’s great about heading down the wrong path is that it teaches us what we don’t want and helps us discover what makes us feel fulfilled.
The key is having the courage to shift toward what makes you happy, even if it rocks the boat or upsets others. Follow what feels good, and you’ll eventually arrive at the sweet spot of ultimate alignment. I reinvented myself and my career more times than I can count before I landed in one where I feel fulfilled — and I’ll probably shift several more times as I continue to grow. —Jen Gottlieb, co-founder and chief mindset officer of Super Connector Media and host of Unfair Advantage live, a premier publicity event connecting entrepreneurs to the media; connect with Jen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
9. Don’t give up.
Most people never find their passion because they give up too early. Two years into building my first online business, I felt stuck. I considered quitting, but I knew that if I did, I might never stick with anything long enough to succeed. Eventually I learned to love what I did, especially after becoming successful. Fulfillment comes from success, not the other way around. Pick something that’s aligned with your values and stick it out until you succeed. Otherwise you never reap the rewards: confidence and a sense of mastery.
List what you want from your work, including the amount of money and how you spend your time. Write down a handful of options, then pick one and start moving forward. The best time to start was yesterday; the second best is today. —Matt Clark, co-founder and chairman of Amazing.com and co-creator of Amazing Selling Machine; connect with Matt on Instagram
10. Leverage this three-step process.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the countless career choices today. But there’s a three-step process to identify work you’ll love and can excel at. First, identify someone who has the career you’d like to emulate. Maybe you know them, and perhaps you don’t. Once you’ve chosen someone, make three columns on a piece of paper: Write down a list of their skills, your current skills, and the skills you’ll need to develop to follow in their footsteps. Finally, duplicate what they did to get where they are. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Read every book they’ve written and watch every interview they’ve given. Find a way to talk to them in person. Become a student of their work and apply their principles in your life to master the skills you need to excel.