You want to start a side business or become a solopreneur, but you don't know what you're interested in.
You want to "follow your passions," but you can't figure out what you're passionate about.
Sure, you have interests, but you fear if you start a business around one of those interests, you'll lose interest.
You're probably taking this "passion" thing too seriously.
Advice is dripping from the ceilings via bloggers, authors, career experts, CEOs, teachers and any one who has a voice, saying, "Find work that you love! Follow your passions!"
And, of course, I agree. If you don't do what you love, you're in for a long, hard and unfulfilling career.
But, it's incredibly difficult to find your passions when you're starting from nothing.
Just like you need to be able to walk before you can run, you need to go through the motions of starting anything before you will completely nail it.
Behind almost every single success story you hear, there are false starts, explorations and failed projects.
You're probably not going to get it right the first time you try, but if you don't start something, you will never get it right.
You might even end up doing something you're not very enthusiastic about, or you could never reach your potential, all because you didn't start anything.
You'll have to kiss a lot of frogs.
This is the worst saying ever, but I'm going to quote it because it illustrates my point so well:
"You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince."
In this situation, frogs are starting side hustles, and your prince is the work you love, freedom from corporate shackles and financial independence.
Here's the beautiful thing about starting something on the side: You aren't stuck with it. Starting something on the side does not mean you have to do that thing forever.
Starting something on the side will help you learn and practice, sharpen your skills and weed out the junk that doesn't matter; it will help you find what you really love to do.
Even if you have a wobbly start (which you probably will), at least you will have had the opportunity to practice on the imperfect project before you committed to something you really love.
How to Start Something Instead of "The Right Thing"
You have to let go of the idea of finding the "perfect project" because you're probably not going to get it right the first time.
Here is a quick 20-minute exercise to figure out what you should start on:
1. Write down five things you are interested in right now.
Grab a piece of paper, start an Evernote document, or open up Word.
List five things that interest you right now. Write down the first five things that come to mind, and don't be vague. Instead of writing down "food," write down "sushi" or "ice cream."
These do not have to be things you have always been interested in. Just list things you've been studying or thinking about.
Have you been challenging yourself to go gluten-free? Write it down, even if you think it's just a phase.
2. Create a table.
Draw five columns. The first column will be the one you write topics in, and the other four will be populated with the five things you just wrote down.
Then, in the first row, write: a) topic ideas, b) income ideas, c) platforms, and d) interest rating.
3. Rate each interest.
Rate each interest in the appropriate column as follows:
a) Topic ideas
Brainstorm as many topics related to each interest you can think of.
If one interest is sushi, you might be able to think of eight topics off the top of your head: how to make sushi, the origins of sushi, how to roll sushi in the perfect way, best types of equipment to use for making sushi, flavor and texture combinations for sushi, the nutrition of sushi, which type is best for you and how to price sushi.
Write them all down.
b) Income ideas
In this column, you need to consider how you could generate an income from the interest.
What could you do to make money? Using the sushi example, it might be creating an eBook on the best sushi restaurants around the world, creating a sushi blog and advertising on it, selling a sushi-making course or a Webinar.
During this exercise, consider: 1) your target market (i.e. sushi restaurant owners, college students in culinary school, gastronomy travelers), and 2) potential income from said market. (i.e. College students may not be able to pay.
Sushi restaurant owners would probably be able to pay, but they probably wouldn't.)
List these, but make sure they are realistic. Don't write "professional sushi taste tester" in the income column.
In this column, write down which type of platform this interest would best be suited to. Remember:
This is something you are starting right now, and it doesn't have to be perfect.
If you are brainstorming for sushi, it's probably not realistic to consider opening a sushi restaurant.
However, a platform to get yourself started might be a blog.
If your major interest is sketching, maybe your platform is starting an Etsy shop with your sketches.
If you love writing and juicing, maybe you start a juicing podcast.
Hate writing? Start a YouTube channel or a forum. Do anything that will help you build some sort of following or audience.
This is the point of figuring out a platform! Almost all businesses start with building an audience.
d) Interest rating
On a scale of 1-5, how interested are you in each topic? One is mildly interested, and five is so interested you read or watch anything you can get your hands on that has to do with the topic.
The higher the interest rating, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Now, start on the clear winner.
After doing this, you'll probably notice at least one clear winner.
Don't just file this information away and move on. Start on the winner. Remember: If you don't take action, you're settling.
Sarah Peterson is the author of Unsettle.org, where she encourages people to never settle for careers they don’t love. Sign up for her free course to find the perfect idea for a lifestyle business so you can gain flexibility and freedom and do work you love.
This article was originally published on Unsettle.org