Some weeks ago I posted this insight on LinkedIn:

 It’s not WHAT you do that gives you energy. It’s HOW you do it, revealing your WHY you do it.

Some days ago a friend reached out to me for advice on how to figure out what to do after returning from a one year sabbatical year. Not an easy question, that is for sure. But what’s more important, is it the right question to ask? When you ask yourself that question: ‘what can I do’, you are probably looking for that one and only, ultimate thing that is meant for you to do in this world.

I have to warn you: the chances of winning the jackpot in a manipulated casino game are higher than running right into the perfect job or business meant for you and only you. You want a job that is not only crafted by God himself, but you also want it to fly straight into your open arms. That is how we all want it, but it rarely comes that way.

The better way to approach the question ‘what can I do’ is to start observing what your daily activities are and how much you like or dislike those. This is not because you need to do something that you really like and make a business out of it. You need to look deeper than that. Start looking at those things that you like and ask yourself WHY you like those. The best way to do this, is to make a list of activities, tasks, things that you like. When you have that list, take the time to investigate it. Write next to it WHAT you like about it.

Go deeper with every question. Imagine you like to run. Well, ask yourself that question: why do you like it? Because it empowers me. Why? Because it gives me a sense of freedom? Why? Because I choose to run whenever I want. At this point, you already struck partial gold. One of your values is apparently freedom.

Go through your list and find all those deep elements that give you joy. Now start looking at the form in which they are presented to you. Freedom may be expressed in running, but it might also be expressed in another activity. This is proof that it is not WHAT you do that matters, but WHY and HOW you do it. Investigate this list whenever you have time and start seeing patterns coming back.

This is the structure that you will need to find something pleasurable. Once you know that structure, your core, it’s up to your imagination to:

  • Find an activity that has most of these elements in it. A job or a business doesn’t come with all those elements already included in a nice package, but you can transform the job or business into something that will have these elements in it.
  • Start with something new, and integrate those elements that mean so much to you. Stay true to your heart and it will turn out the one and only thing that was meant for you.

Both options ask for a lot of creativity and some time to transform into something that is completely your own. In other words: patience.

But when you decide to take on this quest, it will look like you have a job or a business, which seems like it was directly crafted from God’s hands and thrown straight into your arms.