Did you know 70 percent of Americans hate their jobs? Less than one third of U.S. employees are engaged at work. And those who have just recently joined the workforce—”disenchanted millennials,” they’ve been called—are particularly at risk. Research from 2014 found millennials are less likely to say they “have the opportunity to do what they do best” at work, and many are working in jobs that aren’t aligned with their talents or strengths.
Maybe this sounds familiar. Maybe you’re struggling to find out what it is you care most about. Maybe you feel as if your passion, excitement, and zest for life are slipping away. You’re not alone.
If you’ve been feeling exhausted and depleted all the time, there’s hope. Maybe you’re not just tired but uninspired.
These questions can help you pinpoint exactly what it is that inspires you. If you decide to, you can even use these answers to help craft a side hustle in your free time—to make more money, create more freedom, and attract an unlimited amount of opportunities down the line.
1. If money were no object, what would I do all day?
Believe it or not, even rich people need to work to stay stimulated (just look at Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson). They just do what they want to do. Now that’s freedom! What would you do in this same position? Would you write, teach scuba diving, give dating advice? Work that you would do for free strongly implies what activities you enjoy most and what probably comes pretty easily to you.
Who we admire is a huge indicator of who we secretly would like to become.
2. If I could be anyone for a week, who would it be?
Who we admire is a huge indicator of who we secretly would like to become. Do you look up to Abby Wambach, Hillary Clinton, Victoria Beckham, Matt Lauer, Erin Burnett? Review who you obsess over—it’s a bright, shining clue.
3. What conversation topic can I get lost in for hours?
Real estate, investing, travel, animals, cars, fashion, fitness? Your most dominant chat topics are a vital sign of what excites you!
4. If I walk into a bookstore, which section am I drawn to?
This also applies to an Amazon search or even your preference for websites and blogs. What types of information do you most love to consume? What sites have your bookmarked? Which types of writers sit on your bookshelf? At this point, some solid dots might already be connecting for you. Embrace this!
5. Who do I love to spend time with and why?
Who’s part of your “tribe”? Do you like analytical thinkers, creative people, entrepreneurs, artists? Often we are drawn to people like us and we are usually a reflection of our peer group. Who are your preferred friends—the ones who most energize you?
6. If you asked my partner/mother/best friend what I’m best at doing, what would they say?
Would there be a common thread throughout the answers? Are you a great motivator? An incredible listener? An organizer? A storyteller? A go-getter in business? An explorer? Let people who you love and trust tell you who you are. It’s an eye-opening and fun experiment—and a confidence boost.
7. Who was I as a kid?
Let your inner child (who never leaves you!) resurface in your thoughts. Look at a childhood photo of yourself. If you were true to this person, what would you be doing to make sure you don’t let him or her down? Trust me, the little you is begging to be heard and can be called to attention in an instant.
8. What do people come to me for?
Resume advice, helping to fix things at home, interior design tips? This can point you toward the gifts and talents that you might not recognize in yourself. Derek Sivers says it best, “What’s easy for you is amazing to others.”
9. What do I feel least insecure about?
Human beings are funny. We are inordinately hard on ourselves. We’re quick to point out our flaws and have a much harder time recognizing our skills. I once coached a very high-achieving CEO, and getting her to share her leadership strengths with me was like p u l l i n gt e e t h .
If this sounds like you, instead of thinking which qualities you most value in yourself, ask, “What parts of me do I dislike the least?” Allow yourself to remember past accomplishments or times where you’ve really helped others. Let the parts of you that you might secretly feel proud of truly shine.
10. What’s pure and simple fun for me?
Ain’t nothin’ like a consistent hobby that can reveal an awesome hustle idea. The only difference between a hustle and a hobby is that a hustle pays—meaning it provides a service for others. Take note—if you love to paint as a hobby purely for your own pleasure, great! That might not be a hustle idea. But if you’d also love to paint for other people and have your work in other people’s homes/offices/beach houses… you may just be sitting on a jackpot!
I have a friend who love Krav Maga and teaches it to families and another friend who adores planning parties for her entrepreneurial friends. Bingo! They love the work they are doing, they are good at it, and they can be paid for it. What do you love to do that you are really good at and can be paid for?
11. If I had to write a book, what would it be about?
Don’t panic—you don’t have to write one! But if you did, what might it be about? I love asking people this random question. I hear so many answers from sailing to writing vegan recipes to helping people with PTSD heal through music. I just wrote a book on my passion: helping people make the impact they were born to make via the art of a side hustle.
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There is nothing more important than becoming who you are here to be. With the distractions of daily life, we often do not take time to look within and understand who it is that we really are. The time and courage taken to give life to the real you is your only true obligation to yourself.
When we live an inspired life, we live a joyful life. It is impossible not to. When we become who we really are, our life can transform, and the results are often bigger than we imagine, bigger than us.We have more confidence. We create more abundance. Our connection to the world is solidified. And the legacy, the ripple effect of us living a life we love, has an endless contribution on the lives of others. What is more important than that?
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!