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Managing Monday: Using Creativity To Pursue Passions

September 10, 2012

Managing Monday is Alicia’s weekly career advice series.  Check back every Monday for stories on how you can further your career and follow your dreams.  If you have story ideas for this series, email Alicia.

Each of us has a passion for something.  Many of us pursued courses of education in an attempt to turn that passion into a career.  Some of us have found that pursuit of education alone is not an absolute route to turning your passion into a career.

I am definitely one of those people.  If you’ve been reading my work for any amount of time, you know that one of the greatest passions in my life is sports.  Sports have been my lifeblood for as long as I can remember.  I love the competition involved in a good game and rivalry.  I love the stories of humans overcoming obstacles that sports tell.  I love the instances of communities banding together that sports provides.

Throughout my young and young adult life, I believed that by pursuing courses of education in business and law that I would be able to turn my passion for sports into a career.  To me, that career path was clear:  Become a sports lawyer.  I imagined representing powerful clients in the sports world and advocating for their interests.  I imagined myself in a coveted corner office in some impressive piece of sports property.  When I thought about my career, there was nothing dynamic about it.  I was going to become a sports lawyer, and that was that.

The fun thing about journeys, is that nobody’s has one clear, straight path.  If you follow my sports law website, RulingSports.com, you know a bit about my journey.  At age 25, and one year out of law school, I thought I hit the career jackpot when I was one of two finalists for a general counsel position at NASCAR (you can read that story here).  As luck, or fate, would have it though, I was missing one of the winning numbers for that lottery.

I use the word “luck” above when describing missing out on my “dream” job, because in actuality, not receiving the position with NASCAR early on in my career was one of the greatest things to happen to me.  It was one of the greatest things to happen to me, because it forced me to evaluate my passions and then find creative ways to pursue them as a career.  They say that hindsight is 20-20, and while that job at NASCAR would have provided me with a great many of things, the truth is, some of my passions would not have been represented in the position.

I struggled a lot after I “lost” that NASCAR position.  I was unfulfilled in my job at the time and nearly came to believe that I would be stuck in that position the rest of my life.  While I admittedly sulked for several months after I found out that I did not receive the opportunity, one morning I finally decided I needed to take action and change my career fate.  That morning was one of the most powerful days of my life.  So, what did I do?

I got creative.

Being a very aesthetically minded woman, I drove to a local boutique in Orange County and purchased a journal.  Being in Orange County, I then drove to the beach.  There, I sprawled my towel out, popped in my iPhone headphones and got to work writing.

On the pages, I scribbled everything in life that motivates me and interests me.  Things like helping others, giving, leading, motivating people, developing relationships and sharing knowledge filled my pages.

For each interest and personal motivator, I then brainstormed ways in which I could exercise the bulk of those interests and motivators in a career setting.

Jobs like foundation fundraiser, philanthropy event planner, motivational speaker, estate planner and writer popped up across the pages.

This exercise took some time.  It took time, because it required creativity.  So often, when one receives a degree, they quickly put their feet on the career path to which that degree most easily leads.  Some people are content with this.  However, I’d beg to say that many aren’t.

It is for this reason that assessing your passions and addressing how you can creatively integrate them into your career is of the utmost of importance.

When I graduated from law school, I followed norms.  I believed that the only job for me to combine my passion for sports with the law degree I just spent three years and $100,000.00 earning, was that of a sports lawyer.

Then, I got creative.  I realized I could pair a large number of my passions into one idea and one “dream” job.  To me, a dream job is one in which every day you exercise the greatest number of your passions.  For me, that “job” is RulingSports.com.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was possible to get paid for sharing insight on sports law issues.  Never in my wide imagination did I think I would be on TV shows, have weekly radio appearances and a large Twitter following.  Never did I believe that I would have an agent who represents the likes of Doc Rivers, John Smoltz and Jeff Francoeur.  Never did I think my Wednesday mornings would be spent on the phone with an agent talking about which TV shows he is pitching me for.

The reason why I didn’t think these things, is that until I bought that journal, I never got creative enough.  Sure, I always thought that these things sounded fun.  However, society told me they were far-fetched.  Society, however, was wrong.  They were merely creative responses to career choices.

When you think about some of the most “successful” people in our world, they are the ones who are innovators.  Take Steve Jobs, for instance.  Steve Jobs combined his knowledge and passion in a creative way to develop one of the world’s most successful companies.  Imagine how much more you can achieve in your own life if you work each day to fulfill the passions that are inherent in you.  There is a way out of every boring and less-than-fulfilling job.  The way is creativity.

You can only achieve your full potential if you engage your passions through creative responses.  To do this, you must first hash out what your passions are.  You then must exhaust every possible idea in which those passions can serve your interests.  The outcome of this exercise is that you will likely find a career path that is the most inspiring, intriguing and enjoyable for you.  You will be able to escape that metaphorical “box” and begin to build the career that you were meant for.  Overall, I would say that it is a worthwhile endeavor.

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