Full text of author Emma Rosen’s talk: How to Find Your Passion and Make it Your Job at TEDxYouthManchester conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Emma Rosen – Author and career change expert
Hello. So I want to start by asking you to raise your hands if you know exactly what it is you want to do, when you leave education. I can see about six hands.
Okay. Now I want you to raise your hand, if you have a few more general ideas or actually you have no idea at all. Okay. That’s the vast majority of you.
So not that long ago at all I was sitting where you are today. And I had no idea either. I had no idea when I was at school, when I was at college, then at university. And when I finally entered the workplace in my early twenties, I didn’t know then either.
And what I want to do today is tell you a little bit about what I did about that problem.
So to set the scene, I want you to come with me to a wintery Monday morning in November 3 years ago, it’s 6:35 AM and it’s cold out, it’s dark, it’s raining, basically like this morning and I hadn’t slept all night.
All night I was kept awake by the thought of having to go to work the next day. I had a tight knot of stress in my chest, and it had prevented me from sleeping all night long from worry.
And so eventually my alarm went off. I had to get up and had to go and face the day ahead at work. And what I had was a really bad case of the Sunday night blues.
So I had quite a good job. I was working on a corporate graduate scheme that I’d worked really, really hard to get onto. My parents were really proud of me; was earning a good salary. I had job security, job stability. I was using all the skills that I’d learned at university and I had a clear path of progression.
I ticked all the boxes, I had won the career lottery, but yet every day when I woke up, I dreaded going to work. Absolutely dreaded the idea.
And it took me a whole another year to figure out that actually what had been my dream job that had ticked all of my boxes it turns out that it was not for me. And that was okay.
So that begs the question: What on earth is for me? I had no idea. I was back to square one. So in a fit of despair, one night, I wrote down a list of all the different careers I had ever wanted to try… everything from when you’re asked as a small child, what you want to be when you grow up and you say astronaut or firefighter, Prime Minister.
So my list had 25 jobs on it. And they ranged from really traditional, sensible professions to slightly more unusual, but still fairly mainstream ones.
Then the third category seemed completely random. There were things that I’ve been told weren’t real jobs at all, but they all have one thing in common: all of them were things that I’d secretly dreamed of doing my entire life, but for one reason or another had never had the opportunity to fully explore them.
But in my mid-twenties, I was still curious about them.
Now I sat back on the couch. I started daydreaming trying to picture Emma the Author, Emma the Explorer, Emma the Archeologist, and there were so many different possible selves to choose from. And each one was totally unrecognizable from my current reality.
That day, sitting on that couch, I decided that I was going to try every single one on that list in a year before my 25th birthday. And I was just about to turn 24. So that worked out as roughly one every two weeks.
I was going to quit my job and take a radical sabbatical. So I handed in my notice at work, which was both the most terrifying and the most liberating day of my life. And I set about trying all these different jobs and they ranged from wedding photography, publishing, to being an actor in a movie.
Then there was teaching, tour guiding and interior design. After that, there was working in the police dogs unit. There was landscape gardening and blogging. And just as I’d always dreamed, there were adventures by exploring in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It was travel writing in Venezuela and archeology in Transylvania of all places.
So what I want to do now is tell you a little bit about what I learned doing all of these jobs and the three most important things that I learned from doing so many jobs in so many different industries.
So the first thing is about starting your career search, not by thinking about jobs, but by thinking about who you are as a person.
So set jobs aside for a minute and see how you’d answer these three questions. When I did this, I went back to my list of 25 and I changed some of them.