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  • Writer's pictureDillan Taylor

So you like art, huh? (How to do fulfilling work)

When I was 18, I don’t think I even knew how to spell ‘fulfilling.’ I mean, where do all these L’s go?

“What do you plan on doing with that degree?”

I heard this all the time when I was in college. It always made me want to punch someone.

Theatre and acting were my passions in school and being asked this made me feel as though my entire being was in dispute.

Now, I’m 26. And I have a totally different opinion on this question. Let me explain.

I have written in the past about making the decision to go to college. This blog is about asking the right questions to figure out what the hell you want to do with your life.

Seriously. What are you going to do with that?

This is a shitty question. It may be well intended, but shaming an 18 year old–basically a child–isn’t the best way to get them closer to a fulfilling career.

But while it is a shitty question, it is not a shitty idea. It just needs to be reworded. I think it can best be revised into three questions.

1) What do you LOVE to do?

What excites you every time you get to do it?

Traveling? Playing music? Drinking coffee? Reading Harry Potter? Texting your ex?

This is the fun part. Don’t censor yourself.

2) What are you REALLY GOOD at doing?

Whether you enjoy it or not, what are you incredibly skilled at? What are your strengths?

Cleaning? Giving foot massages? Managing people? Writing? Smoking weed?

A fun and helpful exercise is to ask your closest friends, “Hey, I’m doing an experiment. What would you say are my greatest strengths? What do you think I’m really good at?”

The responses might surprise you.

3) What skills or knowledge do you have that people would PAY MONEY FOR?

This is the crux of the original, dumb question.

It’s great that you love theatre or art history or architecture or women’s studies or political science…

But at the end of the day, you will have bills and debts to pay. That means you need money. And that means you need to be able to provide value that others will pay for.

I mean, how do any of us make money? We provide a person or a company some sort of value.

A dishwasher brings the restaurant value by cleaning the plates and glassware so it can keep running smoothly.

A CEO manages people and logistics so their employees and shareholders can thrive.

A movie director designs a film so it can be as entertaining as possible for its millions of viewers.

What can YOU bring to the table?

Putting it all together.

Literally. After answering these three questions, think about how you can put them all together. Where is the convergence? Where do your answers intersect?

You don’t want to do work you absolutely fucking hate. That’s not sustainable.

But you can’t just do something solely because you enjoy it or are good at it. It doesn’t matter how much you love art. Your passion for something alone won’t get someone else to give you their money.

Finding a harmony between these three questions is not easy. It takes a ton of time, experimentation and sacrifice. But on the other side of this Resistance is meaningful work that pays your rent.

A case study on fulfilling work.

To provide a hard example, I’ll conclude with my own experience in answering these questions.

1) What do you love to do?

Talk to people about their habits and goals.

Write.

Make people laugh.

2) What are you really good at doing?

Connecting with others.

Articulating my thoughts and feelings.

Teaching myself things.

3) What skills or knowledge do you have that people would pay money for?

Online marketing.

Expertise in building habits and systems to help others live better lives.

So what the hell do I do?

I’m a content writer: I help businesses connect with their customers by telling their stories in a clear and captivating way. I get to write and be funny–two of my favorite things to do.

I’m a life coach: I help people live healthier, more productive and more fulfilling lives. We sit down to set goals, create plans and hyper-focus on what matters most to them.

Again, this did not happen overnight. And it’s still a work in progress. It always will be.

But if you are having even the slightest doubt over what you should be doing with your life, start with these three questions.

Then go from there.

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