Skip to main content

I wrote this article to help you find work you love that also pays you well. If you want to build a successful career, I believe that it is equally important to do something you enjoy and get paid well for it. If you love your work but it doesn’t support your lifestyle then you won’t be able to sustain it. If you are paid well but there’s no joy in your work then it’s also unsustainable.

I’ve seen thousands of clients find work they love using the pathfinding method that we’ve developed at A Path That Fits. It worked for clients in the Great Recession of 2008 and in the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s still working amidst the tech layoffs of 2024. In times of economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to leverage your strengths, be passionate about your work, and employ the most effective strategies to succeed in your career.

If you’re ready to discover what you are meant to do, you’re in the right place. If you’re just looking to get a new job doing what you’ve always done, the methodology that I share probably won’t resonate with you.

The question is: What’s the thing that you are already built to do?

Everyone has unique gifts and passions that shape them to succeed in a particular type of work. Let’s discover yours…

Free Career Guide & Case Studies

Want a more meaningful career? Learn 5 key strategies to find work you love that pays you well. Download our career guide today.

Download Now
5 Keys To Find Work You Love That Pays You Well - Free Guide

Before explaining how to find work you love, I’d like to introduce myself.

I’m Adrian Klaphaak. I founded A Path That Fits in 2006 after quitting my first career as a management consultant. I knew I was meant for something else but I didn’t know how to find the right career for me. I felt stuck and lost about what else I could do—until I discovered my gifts, became fascinated with what I call “pathfinding” and committed my life to it.

Since 2006, I’ve coached thousands of people to work they love using the methodology that I’ll outline in this blog post. Along the way, A Path That Fits has racked up more 5 star Yelp reviews than any other life and career coaching company in the country.

I’m grateful to do work I love with inspiring people that go on to do big beautiful things in the world.

Step 1: Are you in the right mindset to find work you love?

You are perfectly built for a certain type of work. But the way you think about your career might be holding you back from finding it.

It’s not your fault. The problem is that pathfinding isn’t taught. Our educational and economic systems expect you to already know what you want to do instead of supporting you in finding your path. The advice most people get from well meaning friends, family, co-workers, and teachers is often from the old paradigm.

The old paradigm often sounds something like this:

“It’s great that you love art but you’ll never be able to make a career out of it. You should find a ‘good’ secure job like law or engineering and pursue your passions as a hobby.”

Not only is that depressing, it’s also just not true. The thing they’re completely missing is that in order to be secure in your career, it needs to fit who you are. You can’t just do anything you want and be good at it and enjoy it. If it doesn’t use your innate gifts and passions, you’ll probably just be mediocre. You’ll never realize your full potential.

So what’s the new way of thinking?

Here’s the one perspective shift that will forever change your career.

Old paradigm: My work is what I do.

New paradigm: My work is who I am.

Your true vocation is not something you choose to do. It is an expression of who you are. Your greatest success and deepest fulfillment is going to come from using your innate gifts and doing what you love to do.

Not from trying to fit yourself into a ‘good’ job.

Not from doing what you think you should be doing.

Not from trying be someone else.

Look at all the wildly successful people that have remarkable careers: Oprah, Elon Musk, Beyonce, Gandhi, etc. – they are who they are. They’re not trying to be anyone else.

The key to finding work you love is to DO WHAT YOU ARE.

You don’t do big beautiful things with your life and work by doing what you should do.

STOP looking for jobs.

STOP doing what you think you should be doing.

START discovering who you are.

You don’t have to try to be anyone or anything but yourself.

You are perfectly built just the way you are for a specific type of work. Your first task is to discover what you’re made of, then you’ll know what you’re made to do, and you can start building a remarkable career.

In the next section you’ll start discovering your gifts and passions — two core parts of who you are and what you’re made of.

Step 2: What are your gifts and passions?

Your gifts and passions point you in the direction of your calling. Think of them as your inner compass that you can follow to discover your calling.

If you haven’t had the success and fulfillment that you want up to this point in your career, it’s probably because your career path hasn’t fully utilized your gifts and passions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to discover your gifts and passions.

Discovering your gift is what propels you from good to great.

Your gifts are your secret weapon. It’s the thing you were born to accomplish, the skill you already possess that can be put to good use in the world. It’s a key that unlocks the door to success and inner happiness.

Martin Seligman, a psychologist and pioneer of the positive psychology movement said, “I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.”

You are already brilliant. You just have to know how to recognize it.

What’s the thing that feels most natural to you that you just seem to know how to do?

Is it your knack for creativity? Or your wicked sharp analytical skills? Or maybe it’s your ability to listen deeply and empathize?

How To Find Work You Love 2

Activity: Discover your gifts

Think of 3-5 experiences from your life and career when you were at your best. These are the moments when your innate strengths were shining through.

When thinking about experiences when you were at your best, be mindful not to set the bar too high. These experiences don’t have to be big flashy achievements in the traditional sense like graduating from Law School or getting a job at Google (it’s also okay if you’ve had some big accomplishments that you want to include in this activity). Look for experiences when you were in your element, in which you were doing something that you felt proud of, even if it was a small thing that went unrecognized. These experiences can be personal or professional, and they could have happened at any age.

For each experience, reflect on the strengths that were revealed. Ask yourself what natural ability was coming through. Make a list of the strengths you find. Then, when you’ve discovered the strengths revealed in 3-5 experiences, identify which strengths appeared most frequently. What are the themes? The strongest themes and most frequently appearing strengths are likely to be your gifts.

Discovering your passion makes work enjoyable.

Doing work that aligns with our talents is one method to ensure success, but it is not enough on its own. Passion is another essential component. The idea presented here is not that passion guarantees success, rather, it is your passion that drives you to invest the necessary time in developing your ability to become exceptional. Success requires time and effort, and a large part of what motivates you to persevere is your passion.

According to Malcolm Gladwell (author of bestsellers such as The Tipping Point and “Outliers”) and other peak performance specialists, it takes 10,000 hours to master something. That’s quite an effort. How will you maintain your motivation? By being enthusiastic about your what you are doing.

“Genius is an extraordinary love of something.” – Malcolm Gladwell

Disclaimer: Don’t get hung up on the word “passions.” You don’t have to be wildly in love with something in order to consider it a passion. When I say “passions” I mean the things that bring you alive, excite you, interest you, inspire you, energize you, or even just pique your curiosity.

I can almost hear you saying, “I don’t have any passions!” Don’t stress… To discover a career you love, all you need is a curiosity or interest and the determination to learn more about it. Passions often begin as an interest or curiosity and become a passion through study and practice. The next activity can help you discover your passions.

How To Find Work You Love 3

Activity: 10 Powerful Questions To Discover Your Passions

  1. What are the situations and activities when you get into the flow – when time seems to fly by and you lose yourself in what you’re doing?
  2. Who is doing work that inspires you? What do they do and what is it about their work that you find inspiring?
  3. If you were going to write a book about something, what would you write about?
  4. Of all the projects that you’ve ever done for work or school, what have you most enjoyed?
  5. What do you do in your spare time… hobbies, volunteering, activities, classes, interests, reading, etc.?
  6. What do you most enjoy talking about… What topics could you talk about for hours on end without ever getting bored?
  7. What types of problems do you like to solve?
  8. What kinds of things do you enjoy doing to help other people?
  9. What was your childhood dream? If you didn’t have one, what are some things you loved to do as a youngster?
  10. What interests/passions showed up in the 3-5 experiences of “you at your best” (from the previous activity we used to discover your gifts)?

Read through your responses and make a list of the strongest interests that were revealed. Those are likely to be your passions.

Don’t worry if you didn’t discover a blinding passion. You can grow your interests and curiosities into passions overtime by reading, studying, doing personal projects, joining groups, taking classes and courses, and looking for opportunities to incorporate your passions into your work.

The Career Pathfinder Coaching Program includes a wide variety of in-depth discovery activities and evaluations designed to explore your gifts and passions if these shorter exercises did not.

Afraid of having to reinvent yourself in your new field of work?

If it makes use of your strengths and passions, you won’t need to.

Despite the fact that your talents and interests may not have manifested themselves professionally just yet, you have been putting them to use in other areas of your life. There are a wide variety of approaches you can take to use your prior work history as a stepping stone into a new line of work.

How To Find Work You Love

Now that you know what you’re innately good at (your gifts) and what you genuinely love (your passions), it’s time to translate your gifts and passions into a career you’ll love.

I always recommend to my clients that they first consider how they might be able to redesign their existing career into something they love in addition to exploring entirely new careers. I’ll explain how to do both, starting with how to redesign your existing career because it’s usually easier than setting off in a new direction.

Step 3: Can you redesign your existing career into something you love?

Although this isn’t the right approach for everyone, I’ll introduce this idea first because it’s easier to execute than making a career change into a new career. You can think of this type of career pivot as the lowest hanging fruit.

First, assess how well (or poorly) your current job utilizes your gifts and passions. You can do this by choosing your top 3 gifts and top 3 passions and then scoring each one 0-10 based on how fully utilized each one is in your current job. This quick assessment will tell you where you are out of alignment so you know which of your gifts and passions are most important to focus on when redesigning your existing career path.

 

How Well Does Your Job Utilize Your Gifts Passions 2Gifts:

  1. Empathy 3/10
  2. Critical thinking and analysis 8/10
  3. Strategy 6/10

Passions:

  1. Design 7/10
  2. Psychology 3/10
  3. The Environment 2/10

Next, imagine how you can redesign your current career path by asking yourself these questions:

  • If I had the freedom to redesign my current job to fully utilize my gifts and passions, what would my new job description be?
  • Who is doing the most inspiring work in my existing field?
  • What other roles/job titles in my field would best use my gifts and passions?
  • What companies/organizations best align with my gifts and passions?

After using those questions to envision a more exciting evolution of your current career, the final step is to talk to people who are doing work that most closely resembles your vision.

Doing “informational interviews” with people who are doing work that inspires you is the best way to understand what it’s like to do their job on a day to day basis as well as how to successfully make a change into their niche. Many of my clients also find that these “informational interviews” lead to job offers. This is what people often refer to as the “hidden job market” – job offers that are never formally posted but instead arise out of conversations and networking.

Step 4: How to identify exciting new career paths

It’s not always possible to turn your existing career into work you love. I quit my first career in management consulting because I knew it wasn’t going to use my gifts and passions. About half of the clients we coach come to the realization that they need to launch a new career in order to do work they love. In this section, I’ll explain how to discover which careers are the best fit for your gifts and passions. 

Part 1: Tap into your vision of inspiring work

The first step is to tap into your own ideas about what type of work you can imagine yourself doing. How? Do a five minute free write in which you write down all the things you can imagine yourself doing that utilize your gifts and passions. Give yourself permission to dream big and think creatively without worrying about whether or not you will make enough money, have the existing resume experience to get that job, etc. Go beyond job titles to imagine anything and everything you could be doing including projects, lifestyles, tasks, roles, careers, business ideas, work environments, identities, job titles, colleagues you work with, etc. You are not going to be committed to anything you write down. This is just a brainstorm. You can use the following questions as prompts to help guide your free write:

  • What are all the things you can imagine yourself doing that use your gifts and passions?
  • What would you do if you knew you would be successful?
  • What would you do if money was no object?

Part 2: Turn ChatGPT into a career database

Career databases are useful tools to generate career ideas that you may not even know exist. I recommend starting with ChatGPT or Bard and asking those AI chatbots to come up with career ideas based on your gifts and passions.

You can read detailed instructions about what type of search queries to perform in this article titled, “How to Use ChatGPT to brainstorm Career Ideas.”

Once you have a few career ideas that you’re excited about, the next step is to talk to people who are actively doing that type of work. The best way to figure out which career is right for you is to talk to the people who are doing the work to learn what it’s really like and what the needs and opportunities are in the market. They can also explain what you need to do to transition into the field, including any additional education and experience you might need.

Step 5: How will you know when you’ve found a career you’ll love?

Simply put, it will feel right. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have any doubts or fears about making the change – you’ll likely have plenty of those. But you’ll also be moved forward by a feeling of resonance and excitement.

The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding what career is right for you is this: Look for the best fit NOT the perfect fit.

You don’t have to be 100% sure that it is the thing you were born to do in order to choose it and start moving forward.

Most of the people that don’t succeed in finding a new career get stuck because they are waiting for the perfect career. It doesn’t exist. Instead of waiting for perfection, choose the path that feels most right to you and start moving forward.

If you aren’t sure what career is right for you and you want to find work you love, we’d love to coach you.

Discover our Career Coaching service.
Discover our Job Search Coaching service.

Leave a Reply

Black Lives MatterStatement of Solidarity