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Stuck in a career rut? Fear not, because we have all been there: Seeing all of the opportunities but not sure which path to take, having the patience to find out whether an option is good for you or not, actually taking action and fulfilling your dreams. It can get rather daunting.

This is a contribution from Jacob Lyda.

For sure, deciding on something and creating a plan for your future is a tremendous weight lifted, but it is replaced by another, equally-weighty task – how to fund your ambitions.

For me and my significant other, our dream is to fly to Cape Town, South Africa in September of this year, be there for 3 months, and then plan for 2018 to be our first immersive digital nomad experience. While this is both bold and exciting, we need to create solid streams of income that can be made with “just a laptop and good Wi-Fi.” (Stop me if you’ve heard that one before).

It’s not as simple as it appears. The number of ways you can make money online is straight ridiculous and about half of them are scams. Which one do you choose?

The Career Venn Diagram

Career Venn Diagram

Here are some guidelines to help you start in the right direction:

What Do You Hate Doing?

Wait, what kind of question is that? Aren’t you supposed to be telling me to do something I love? Sure, I could go that route, but then your subconscious, aided by hyped sales pages, could convince you that you “love” being a translator and a virtual nurse and a copywriter and a social media influencer. Come on.

Instead, of the thousands of ways you can collect coin via the Internet, ask yourself which ones you would hate doing.

For instance, I tried to learn basic code because the demand is high, it’s simple (not easy) to learn and you can do it from anywhere in the world. After just 10 days of getting my mind psyched about making my travel nest egg out of endless lines of code, I realized: I Don’t Like Programming. It was that quick.

Essentially, cut out the things you wouldn’t want to spend your time doing. Rather than “working,” which sounds like the drabbest thing in the world, you should be “creating,” getting excited about your task, and adding value to the world.

Shortening your list of probable avenues makes for a cleaner and more accurate decision. Too much clutter breeds Paralysis by Analysis, which leads to inaction, which leads to watching Cops on a Sunday in your underwear with a bag of Doritos – the worst decision you can make.

Okay, NOW What Do You Enjoy Doing?

Alright, time for the fun. What doesn’t feel like work to you? For me, it’s writing (duh), sports, social media and travel. Produce a list of hobbies and interests and start making connections. I have started a blogging series about my impending trip to South Africa. I will also start a social media personality once I’m on the road and create influence that way. While sport is a passion of mine, if you don’t see the marketability of a passion, leave it as recreation. Sure, I could try out for a semi-professional basketball team, but no one – including myself – wants to see that.

What do you love? What would you do day in and day out if money were no object? Do that.

Find a market for that niche. Everyone will give you flack for pursuing a creative field, especially your own brain, that annoying voice in the back calling you an idiot because it’s scared. Ignore them. Create anyway.

Once you figure out that your passion can make you a living, look at the last piece of the Career Venn Diagram.

What Makes You Different?

This is the most important question. It’s easy as hell to determine what you do and do not like. It’s nothing to examine whether a passion can be marketable. And while it’s tough to block out all the negativity that will inevitably surround you, if you’re strong-willed enough you’ll get through that as well. So, what’s the problem?
YOU need to be unique.

That’s right: Your ultimate fear of being noticed because you’re super freaking weird is coming true. Obviously it’s scary; society is going to rip you to pieces and leave you for dead for being non-conforming.

…Except that isn’t true. Your oddities can potentially make you rich.

You want proof?

Gary Vaynerchuk took wine (a passion of his), mashed it with YouTube (a platform where he knew he could create value) and ta-da! He created WineLibraryTV. At the same time Gary was doing this, there could have been 20 others doing the exact same thing. Why do we know who Gary Vee is and not the other 20? Because Gary is simply Gary. His loud demeanor, consistent commitment and constant swearing made for a delightful personality that resulted in over 1,000 episodes of WineLibraryTV. He’s now one of the most influential social media gurus of the digital age.

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

People buy into other people because of unique personalities, quirks, stories, looks and passions. So why should the buy from you? Go out there and bare all – it might just be what gets you paid.

Bringing It All Together

The answers to the three above questions will determine your destiny. You can’t just have two of the prerequisites. If you’re good at something and there’s marketability but you hate doing it, you’re bootstrapped into a dead end and life will – for lack of a better word – suck.

If you enjoy doing something and you’re great at it but there’s no marketability, then that’s a hobby and should be treated as such (i.e. me and my basketball career). And if you have a passion for something and there’s marketability, but you aren’t quite good at it yet, put in more time and practice. This last one can become the ultimate gig, but for now keep improving.

You need all three – Passion, Skills, Marketability. You like writing, have a major in English and see a market for science fiction? Write an e-book called “Star Fill-In-The-Blank.” You like travelling, have a knack for social media and can see yourself enhancing people’s lives? Become an Instagram Influencer that partners with hotels and restaurants.

If you can combine all of this, put it into a sentence, and a gigantic grin hits your face without hesitating, you’re onto something special.

In any case, getting to an actionable plan is the end goal. This Venn Diagram means nothing if you don’t put words into motion. Give me e-book royalties, give me affiliate marketing commissions, give me freelance retainer checks; these sound like utopia compared to getting paid by the hour in an office that constricts creativity.

Go out there and live.

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