As I’ve been thinking about Career & Money Part 4 – Discover Your Ideal Career I decided I needed to share a bit of an addendum to the article. While I helped you to hone in on values, I thought a short distinction around skills versus passions would be worthwhile.

The way the process works for most people is that they discover they have a skill and then they build their career around it. For instance, you find that you’re very good at math and numbers in high school. You’re not really sure what you’re passionate about, but you know you excel with this skill. So, you find yourself in college and are faced with having to declare a major course of study. Again, you’re still not sure what options are REALLY out there and your passions are not yet clear. After all, even if you procrastinate, you’re still forced to declare a major by the time you’re in your late teens or early 20’s. You know you’ve always been good at math and it seems like an employable skill, so you opt for a numbers based degree (math, accounting, finance, engineering, etc.). In this example you are SKILLED at math.

Take another example. You are absolutely passionate about science. You are cuckoo for biology. All your spare time is spent doing science type things. You may or may not be actually skilled in science, but it makes your heart beat faster. In this example you are PASSIONATE about science.

The difference between skills and passion is often ignored until you find yourself in a job you could be good at but are totally bored to tears with and you wonder what happened to passion. Or, you absolutely love what you do but either aren’t very talented at it or find you can’t earn the living you desire doing it.

The key is looking at skills and passion as an equation.

Consider the following chart:
Passion and Skills
In an ideal career, you find yourself in Quadrant 1 where you’re not only passionate about what you do, you’re damn good at it. This is where you have the most potential for success because your heart AND your talent is at its peak.

Many people find themselves in Quadrant 3 where you’re skilled at something, but your heart couldn’t be less interested. You find yourself living a daily grind filled with frustration or boredom. While you may experience some success in this scenario, you will always be held back by your lack of interest and passion. The only real exception to this is if you consciously choose to have just a “job” in this Quadrant so you can fuel your passions elsewhere.

In Quadrant 2 you find yourself passionate about what you’re doing, but not particularly skilled at it. Again, you may have some success because you are inspired, hard working, and really engaged. However, your lack of skill holds you back. If you can improve your skills (which may or may not be possible) you could start the movement toward the Quadrant 1 ideal. Or, you may find at some point that the activity makes a great part-time endeavor or hobby, but your lack of skill leaves you at a dead end.

Quadrant 4 is the career from hell. You not only don’t care one bit about what you’re doing, you’re not good at it either. It results in utter misery and sets you up for failure. Inevitably your attitude and/or incompetence will get the best of you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • If you are currently in a career, what quadrant does it fall in?
  • Where do you want to be in terms of your career?
  • What adjustments might you need to make to shift into the quadrant you most desire?

As promised, Part 5 will start to delve into how to land the best job for you.


Paula Gregorowicz is the Comfortable in Your Own Skin(tm) Coach and you can learn more at her website and blog .