I was an outsider among outsiders. It was ironic really. My crazy idea?
I went to a Goth party wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Why on earth did I do that?
I’ve been attracted to underground and alternative culture for most of my life. I find the cocktail of counter-culture and provocative art exciting. And at the time, I found Goth culture to be intriguing.
So the question for me was rather: why not go to a Goth party?
I went for the experience. It was fun.
But as I wasn’t part of the group, I felt uneasy and out of place. In the end, I didn’t stay long.
We all want to be unique and cool. We want experiences. We’re striving for the things that will fulfill and excite us.
And alternative culture has been my way of being different. I wasn’t a Goth, but I was more involved in the alternative musical scene.
And here’s the paradox I saw when I went to this party: on the one hand we want to stand out and be unique (being a Goth is not common), on the other hand we crave a sense of belonging (Goths meet each other at parties).
To stand out, you’ve got to move away from the group. And that’s uncomfortable.
We don’t steer away from the group too much. We make choices. Over the years, we become more mainstream and stop making ripples. We settle for less.
But there’s this funny feeling that lay dormant…
You’re secretly craving for unique experiences. You want to stand out and be original. At the same time, you don’t want to risk your cushy life.
Do you happen to ask yourself:
- What do I really like?
- What path should I walk that will finally answer my craving?
- How can I follow my passion and make it a viable journey?
If you do, you’re not alone. I’ve been pondering these questions for a long time. And I’ve spent a big chunk of my time looking for answers.
Today, I’m sharing a method I put together to help you find answers. It’s the results of many hours of research and experimenting over the past 18 months. I’ll walk you through a three step process you can use to find the path that’s right for you.
1. Your Journey
As with anything, you need to be clear on what you’re looking for before you start searching. So you’ll know when you’ve found the right answers.
So, what are you looking for?
- Are you looking for your “calling”, do you want to build a business around one of your passions?
- And if you want to build a business, is it going to be a part time or full-time venture?
- Or maybe you want to spend more time pursuing hobbies, trying new experiences and exploring the world?
We’ll go into more details in step 2. But before you go there, make sure you know the type of journey you want to pursue.
2. Sweet Spots
In step 1, you’ve set your goal. For example: finding out your calling. Now, we need an effective strategy to reach that goal.
Here we’ll be using the Sweet Spot Strategy. After experimenting with different strategies, this is the most effective I’ve found.
If you want to build a business around your passion, you have to find a sweet spot. What do I call a sweet spot?
A sweet spot stands at the convergence of three circles:
- The first circle contains the skills and knowledge you have
- The second one represents your passions
- The third one is the value you can bring to the world
Just to be clear, we all have several passions and skills that we can merge to bring value to the world. So, you can find several sweet spots at the convergence of your passion, skills and value.
And if you have a job, you’re already getting paid for the value you bring to the company. Unless you’re passionate about your job, it’s not a sweet spot, but it illustrates the importance of a sweet spot to build a profitable business.
Now, if you’re only interested in a hobby, bringing value to the world is optional. But it’s still worth finding what lies at the convergence of your passion and skills.
So, let’s dig out these sweet spots. We’ll start with your skills.
Write down at least:
- 10 skills you have
- 10 topics you’ve got good knowledge of
- 10 challenges you’ve overcome in your life
You’ll end up with a list of 30 items or more that fill the first circle.
Time to move to your passions…
To find your passions, you’ll be answering a set of questions. But before you do, take a step back.
Make sure you put your judgmental mind aside for a while. Forget about who you’re supposed to be for a minute and open you mind to new possibilities.
If you don’t, you’ll end up dismissing some ideas that might be fundamental keys to finding your passion. So, if you catch yourself thinking: “This doesn’t make sense, I can’t possibly pursue this passion”, dismiss the thought for now and write down the passion in question. Sorting out what makes or doesn’t make sense will come later, don’t worry.
Now, let’s explore your passions. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the type of activities you do when you lose track of time?
- Picture yourself in 5-10 years. In an ideal world what would you be doing?
- What would you do if you had an extra 3 hours free every day?
- If you could read all the books from a single section of a library, which section would you pick?
- Who are your professional heroes? And why?
- What experiences do you really enjoy? Think about situations when you had a great time doing something specific.
- What are the things that really bother you? Things you think should be different?
Take you time to explore the answers to these questions. Write everything down. After a while, patterns and topics will emerge. You’ll find some areas that you want to explore further, areas that excite you.
Make sure you spend enough time on this exercise, but don’t aim for perfection. The aim is to get some topics, but you’re not necessarily looking for highly detailed descriptions of your passions.
You now have a list of skills and passion. Remember I said we would sort out your passions to see what does or doesn’t make sense to pursue? Now’s the time to hone down on the most pro-eminent ones.
Look at each list and score each element on a scale of 1-10, for the following criteria (if you’re only after a hobby, you don’t have to worry about criteria number 3):
- Your expertise level
- How passionate you are about the topic
- How valuable you think it is to the world (i.e. how much money would people pay for it)
Now, look at your list and pick the topic with the higher scores.
You’ve found your most promising sweet spot! You now have a calling or an exciting venture you can go after.
Only, the answer you got is based on the view of the world you have today, on your projected desires and what you see as viable. It’s already a huge step forward. But it needs to be tested and refined to ensure it matches reality.
Time for step 3.
I used to think you could get all the answers about yourself through pure introspection, asking the right questions and using effective methods. I learned that there’s more to it. To complete the full puzzle, you need to take action and keep exploring.
Focusing on a single topic over a long period of time can be tiresome. Reality won’t match the picture you had in your head. Generally, traction and success won’t come as quickly as you expected.
This will test your commitment and passion. Over time, you’ll get signs telling you whether it’s still the right path for you or not. And you’ll discover new passions, alleyways that you want to explore.
You’ll also find out from other people what problems and desires they want someone to help them with. You’ll progressively find out where your highest value is.
So, once you have your path, start following it. Put a plan together with daily tasks and weekly goals. Track your progress.
Every week, take time to review your progress and to reflect on your journey.
Run experiments and ask for honest feedback. Measure your results. Adjust your course and keep going.
The key is to stay positive. That will give you energy and push you to do more. But, you also need to review your results accurately. A major cause of failure in business is due to cognitive delusions.
We get so enamored into our project that we’re convinced it will work out. We only look for positive news and tend to ignore the bad sign. We fall prone to cognitive bias.
We think: “If only I carry on for a little bit more, if I can find the right people who understand what I’m doing, it will all work out!”
Don’t give up too quickly, but learn to review the signs accurately and be brutally honest with yourself.
If you discover over time that the path you chose is not the right one, go back to step 2. Chose the topic with the second best score on your list and pursue that path.
In short: act, measure, review, adjust. And build confidence that you’re on the right path along the way.
The topic I found is strategic thinking, and I’m walking that path now.
Finding out our unique path is an ongoing quest. A fulfilling one.
You could pursue it without a plan and hope to find out the right path as you go along. If you’re lucky, it will work out. But most probably, you’ll let others dictate your agenda and will end up in the wrong place, frustrated, unhappy and craving for a different life.
Maybe it’s where you are today. I hope that’s not the case.
But wherever you are, if you follow an effective strategy, you can drastically improve your chances to get on the right path. I’ve seen the difference it has made in my life in terms of clarity, fulfillment, excitement and motivation.
The world is open to you. If you’re up for it, it’s about time you go and follow your path…
What’s your plan then? What path are you going to follow? Share your stories below.