How to find the answer to the question, "What work would I love to do?"

How do you get to do what you love and get paid for it when you don't even know what you love?

If you're stuck in this dilemma, you're not alone. In fact it is the single biggest obstacle I come across amongst people wanting to get paid to do what they love.

I've decided it's time we did something about this major stumbling block. So I'm getting together with Head Coach at Screw Work Let's Play, Selina Barker, over the next few weeks to show you how to get around it.

Now, if you don't know Selina, she is a true 'player' in the best sense of the word.

Here are 3 fun facts about Selina:

  • At 24 Selina was co-founder of a leading career change organisation and has helped change the careers of people on seven continents, including the Antarctic! She now runs the Screw Work Let's Play 30 Day Challenge with me where she is a powerhouse of energy, inspiration and enthusiasm for the 200 participants.
  • Selina has been living a nomadic lifestyle for over a year now. With her business in a bag she has travelled the UK in a campervan, learnt to surf in Costa Rica, created a pop-up home in Buenos Aires for 5 weeks, and is currently road tripping through California
  • The one thing people are most likely to say about Selina: "Be careful sharing your dreams with Selina because she'll have you doing them before you have time to say 'This is scary'!"

Watch this short video

So with Selina in San Francisco and me in London, we recorded a short video to get you started on finding work you love. Watch it and find out:

  • Why is it so common not to know what work we would love to do? And...
  • What can you do right now that will start to produce some answers for you?

Can't see the video? Try this instead

Where have you got stuck on finding what you love?

Leave a comment below and tell us where you are with knowing what you'd love to do. Where have you got stuck? We'll address your questions over the next few weeks in some more videos.

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  • I think to me the worst was the "oh, somebody is already doing it" part. But then, it came to me: hey, even if others do something similar, so what? Did Picasso's career stop others from becoming artists? Should filmmaking stop on Hollywood, because European cinematography will never make as much money as US films? I think this realization might be particularly important to those who want to pursue their professional way in any creative business - nevermind the others, if you love doing it and you are determined working hard, it means there is a place for you too.

  • Markfrancombe

    Hey John, Although I love getting your spam ... er.. newsletters (no really.. I do love gettin them!) I must say that they are more inspirational for me, than useful.

    I remember when I was mid to late 20´s and I did exactly as you preach, I was earning money as a musician primarily, but making pop-promos and weird films in spare-time... but now... wife, kids, wifes older kids, house, car, and... (drum-roll) pretty well paid job... theres NO WAY I can jack it all in and give my dream(s) a go.

    Once a month I get Wire magazine on subscription and I always have a few hours reading and thinking... Hmm must really get around to recording a new album... even if the last one made exactly 25 dollars on bandcamp...
    Your newsletters kinda do the same thing... Hmmm should really get around to (dot dot dot...  insert thing here).

    As for Selina traveling the whole time... thats ok, good for her... but you know.. one day, shes gonna need more than a hammock and a laptop... a baby? a husband... a house...?

    OK being grumpy... but Im allowed.. I even have a blog where I grumble... heres the link (im guessing you are not adverse to a little self publicity?)
    https://grumpyenglishmaninnorway.wordpress.com/

  • Anonymous

    This is a really good point Margaret. I'm writing a bit about this at the moment in my 2nd book.

  • And what if there a lots of things that I love to do? And I'm doing them all, little play project here, another play project there, but don't earn enough money to make a living? Shell I choose one? Or do all of them? Try to marry them in something? - that's what bothers me at the moment.

  • Recently, I realised I've spent most of my life thinking I was going after what I love, but the truth of it was, I was just pleasing my parents, doing what I thought they wanted me to do. Once I realised that, it was so much easier to figure out what I want to do with my life, how I want to do it and (just as importantly, I think) figure out what I don't want to do. I certainly think other peoples expectations can be a huge roadblock on the path to figuring out what you want to do...

  • Sounds like you're a scanner, Bebe! Check out Barbara Sher's book "what do I do when I want to do everything", or puttylike.com which is a website dedicated to scanners 🙂

  • David B

    I think the hardest thing is finding a way of turning what you love doing into something which makes money - I'm sure this trips us all up. There are lots of things I enjoy doing, but I fail continually in thinking of a way to make a 'business' out of them. Another thing which often worries me (and which has happened to me in the past) is if you turn something you enjoy into a 'business', does it then cease to become enjoyable? One of the biggest sticking points for me is that I already enjoy a lot of what I do, but I struggle to find ways of developing it - it's become too much of a 'tie' and much more like a 'proper job' than I ever wanted it to be.

  • Anonymous

    Good question David. Can you give me an example of something you're doing that you don't know how to turn into a business?

  • Anonymous

    One really helpful thing is to see if there is a common theme, do you thin there could be for you? Want to tell us what the 3 biggest strands are?

  • Anonymous

    That's very true Sarah

  • David B

    Two things which I thoroughly enjoy are modern architecture and photography, so coupled together, I quite like architectural photography...I don't have any ambition to be a 'photographer' or an 'architect' (if you see what I mean), but I look at interests like this and think, "How can I turn this into a 'business'?"

  • Bebe

    Thank you 🙂 Scanner? Possibly! I sometimes envy people who specialise in ONLY one thing. It sounds so much easier.

  • David B
  • What about recording one track and putting it up somewhere with enough traffic to generate feedback?

  • Anonymous

    Nah! That's boring Bebe. If you're in London you should come to my Scanners Night http://www.scannercentral.co.uk

  • Bebe

    Drawing, writing, interacting with people, creating playful solutions and learning new things - erm... that's more than three.

    Whenever I try to make one of those things only, I don't feel challenged enough.

  • Anonymous

    That is really cool David! The challenge is to take one of these ideas and see how you can turn it something people really want and that can make you money.
    That's tricky with handmade good unless you get someone else to make them en masse.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds interesting. Want to point us to a website? I know people who combine these things. I combine writing, social media, talks, events,marketing, and using my technical skills into one business

  • Selina

    Hi Mark, it sounds like you're doing a very common thing that we all do (I'm sure some psychologists have figured out why this happens) and that's to see yourself as having two very extreme options: 1) I look after my family with my current well paid job but have to sacrifice doing the creative things I once loved to do OR 2) I jack it all in, do the things I love to do and me and my family have to live in the streets. 

    What about option number 3? You keep on earning the money you need to support your family AND you start making space in your life to do some of the things you love to do. This is what the 30DC is all about and ask the guys on there how that impacted on their lives and many rocked up with the same attitude as you.

    You can keep finding reasons to not get back into the music and film making and creativity that you obviously once loved or you could just start doing it again, step by step and see where it takes you.

    As for your question of 'what is Selina going to do when she wants to have a house, a husband and a baby?' you'll be pleased to hear that in 2 months I will be having one of those things so you'll be able to see how I manage it!

    Come on Mark - you deserve to give yourself the time and space to start doing the things you love. So start today. Action is going to be the key ingredient for you. Tim's suggestion is great. Start there, or somewhere else, but just start doing something. No more excuses.

  • Bebe

    I'm a big fan of Scanners Night, although I've never been to one. I'm very seldom in London (living abroad at the moment) and whenever I'm there Scanners Night seems to be next week or has been last one. But I'm sure, one day I'll get there 🙂

  • Bebe

     "If you turn something you enjoy into a 'business', does it then cease to become enjoyable?" - that would be my concern too.

  • Bebe

    I have only a blog with my stories and some illustrations (www.bebeluch.blogspot.com), but this is a thing that I do outside my professional life of experience designer-researcher.

    I always wanted to make books, but now a part of me thinks that it's stupid to do that with a PhD degree in a hand.

    On the other hand, I think sometimes that it's maybe about allowing yourself to do all those things and not having to specialise in anything in particular. That such a solution is already good enough?

  • Anonymous

    It's a good question. Give us an example of one of your interests that this is a concern for, Bebe

  • Anonymous

    In the meantime, you can always take part virtually: http://www.scannercentral.co.uk/recordings/

  • Bebe

    Let's say: Let's say, somebody wants me to design a logo for them. I agree, because I like designing and it sound like fun. So I do it, but the fact that there is a deadline and I'm constantly afraid that the person my not like the outcome, makes it feel more like job than play project.

  • David B

    I think that's the sticking point because somewhere along the line, something (or a combination of things) has to 'make a living'...this is probably why I retreat back to doing what I've always done

  • Easier? Maybe. More interesting? Hell no! 🙂

  • David B

    Interestingly, I've often been criticised for doing 'too many' different things, the perception being how can you do several different things all to the same/required standard... I suspect doing just one thing would be easier, but I don't think it would half as fun, and I doubt I'd enjoy it so much 😉

  • Jo

    I love too many things, i have lots of ideas i'd love to do but they'd keep me in the uk and tied to one place.(goods) what i would really love to do is travel and, like Selina, have a 'business in a bag '. so this would mean services, i have no idea what services i could offer and be mobile other than train as a tesol teacher. i thiink my opprtunities would be limited in this field given that i am 46.

  • Francesco Fabiano

    hi guys. for me the problem is not zeroing in on what to do, but how to really launch what i do. i'm shifting from a freelance job which developed on its own, by sheer word-of-mouth, into this other biz where marketing is essential but new to me.
    unfortunately, there's a part of me which has grown physically and mentally tired of running around from place to place consulting and after all that having a hard time getting paid for it (bureaucracy). i'd like to slow down and have a saner life whihc adds to the difficulty in getting started marketing myself.
    hope i was clear enough on that. look forward to your reply.

  • David B

    This resonates with me, not because I have a particular desire to travel, but because I hate being stuck to one place. At the moment I'm tied to work (home) for set times each week for around 25 hours a week. It's not only a tie in terms of the set times, but in the location too. The nature of the work and the self-employment factor means that if I wanted to move somewhere else in the future (which I'm longing to do!), I know that particularly business (music teaching) goes back to zero. The idea of a 'business in a bag' sounds lovely!

  • Helen G

    I have lots of hobbies - stuff that I enjoy doing - but I am not very good at any of them, so how can I earn from them? What I am good at is being an administrator....

  • Joe

    Hi guys, my problem is that I have so much I want to try but so little time to do it...I will have to give up the day job. But I find it is all linked together I cant to this till I've done this and this and I cant do that until this is in place and I need money to put that in place so I cant give up my day job :o(.
    What I need is time out so I could have the time to set things up.....anyone know the lottery numbers for next week!!   

  • Jo

    know what you mean Joe, same problem here, so you continue on the little treadmill... and i for one am too tired at the end of the day job, brain is mush and can't think about forging a new business with it! A month in an egyptian healing temple and a month to focus on new life and all will be dandy! lol!

  • Jo

     i guess it depends what you teach ie piano more difficult to transport than a violin for example. but if its portable could you not build up business in new location prior to going? just a thought...! 🙂

  • Jan

    The
    biggest block I found when trying to figure out what I liked doing was thinking
    in 'boxes'- only considering the already existing categories that other
    people have made, ie) writer/artist/photographer etc. I felt like I was
    supposed to discover one 'passion' that should be clear-cut enough to fit under
    one pre-existing title, even if it wasn’t necessarily a job title. It was confusing
    and frustrating to keep having thoughts like: 'I like art, I'm an artist, so
    why don't I want to draw? I must be lazy...' etc etc.

     

    It
    turns out interests can be pretty specific and kind of random, and mine
    definitely doesn’t have a title yet: I finally figured out that I get a buzz
    out of creating something for someone, often very personalised  and usually in secret, then going ta daa! and getting
    an emotional response (be it laughter/tears or ooohh ahhh).

     

    What
    I like doing isn’t a recognised ‘hobby’ and doesn’t focus on any one skill, but
    a process that can take many different forms! No wonder I didn’t seem to fit
    anything...

  • Jan

    Don't know what happened to the format there

  • Anonymous

    So there are 2 routes there - 1. Do some stuff just for fun 2. Work on what your Top Dog is saying about your work for clients. And grow your comfort zone by doing it more often.

  • Anonymous

    But if you put some persistent creative thinking into coming up with turning one of your activities into an income stream (but not a full income) I bet you could do it

  • Anonymous

    Can you share what kind of ideas you think would keep you here? There may be a way to make it portable (eg online shops, drop-shipping)

  • Anonymous

    What's the new business Francesco?

  • Jo

    Hi John,  i make bodycare creams from herbs i grow, and do workshops to make bath bombs again collecting herbs from the herb garden, foraging walks and talks about hedgerow medicine...

  • Stuntman Burt

    I want to write. I want to travel, adventure and write. I know I write reasonably well, I get good feedback and my current employer has even tried to find ways to formally put what talent I might have to use in my job.

    But my biggest obstacles are if I blog, nobody reads it, and I can't see a way that anyone is going to pay me to do what I love. There are millions of better writers, and billions of bloggers who have things like readers, so what hope do I have?

  • Anonymous

    This is so true Jan! I remember thinking like this until I realised my interests (and my talents) where in a very unique microniches. As a normal musician/songwriter I'm rubbish but as someone creating sound art and rhythmic textures, I've got something.

  • Anonymous

    Tell us some of your hobbies... 
    Should we assume you don't enjoy being an administrator?

  • Sarah

     Hi Stuntman Burt - you might want to think about working with a coach to free yourself from some of the Saboteurs and limiting beliefs which are singing out of your post to me. If you want to write, a good coach will get you into a place where you experience genuine self-belief and confidence and then what others may be doing and what others may 'have' will not be an issue for you.  The only person you will be comparing yourself with, is the person you used to be.  Good luck and go well...Sarah

  • Anonymous

    What about microblocking Jo? You'd be surprised what you can do in 20 minutes a day.

  • Anonymous

    I bet there's a way Joe. Tell us you want to do and I'll turn it into a play project you can start straight away

  • Anonymous

    This is great , Jo! You could show someone else how to make your bath bombs and have them sell them for you while you travel. Or.. you can travel giving guided tours of wild flower/natural healing herbs. Or run workshops for  other people to make the bath bombs with you.
    I can't guarantee these will make a huge income but if you keep coming up with ideas, one or more of them could be turned into a proper income stream.

  • Jo

     sounds interesting but i have no idea what micro blocking is!! a google search didn't reveal much either!