How to Choose the Work You Love When You Feel Stuck (Part 1)

Posted by in Career Success, Knowing Your Strengths | 9 comments

You’d think it would be easy to figure out what we love to do for work.

I mean we spend so much time with ourselves you’d think we would have this down right?

/ponderCreative Commons License hobvias sudoneighm via Compfight

Yet, it’s not easy. At least it wasn’t for me.

It’s also the number one reason people contact me. They’re stuck in some way.

It can be a complex problem to navigate because we as humans are complex.

The underlying cause for the problem can be a variety of different things:

  • Perfectionism
  • Difficulty choosing just one idea
  • Truly not knowing
  • Fear

You may have a different reason, but these tend to be the ones I hear.

Whatever your log jam is try one of these exercises to get you moving in the right direction to the work you love.

1. Three Movie Exercise. Mary DeMuth talks about doing this with groups she works with. I love this idea. Without thinking too much, list three of your favorite movies. Here are three of mine:

  • Field of Dreams
  • Brave Heart
  • The Natural

Now, think about an underlying theme that runs through each of your favorite movies.

The theme that runs through my favorites (besides baseball for two of them) is believing you can achieve your dream or goal when no one else believes you can.

This theme will likely be what you are passionate about. Try it, you’ll have some fun and you’ll be amazed at what you come up with.

I’d love for you to share your three movies and the common theme in the comments below.

2. Have a “Choose Your Career” BBQ. I mention this exercise in my ebook “5 Steps to Landing Your Dream Job”. Essentially, it goes like this:

  1. Invite your closest friends over for a BBQ
  2. Ask them to tell you what they think it is you might love to do.
  3. Brainstorm with them 100 types of careers that might fit what you do well.
  4. When your friends leave, sort through their ideas and choose 20 that strike a chord with you.
  5. Start researching more information about your top 5 from the 20.
One word of caution. Whatever your crew comes up with for potential careers, filter those ideas against your own intuition. We all have well meaning friends who give us bad advice. Stay true to yourself in the process.

3. Ask yourself what you would do with your time if you inherited $750,000?
Why $750,000 you might ask? It’s enough money to get you into a comfortable spot, but let’s face it, you’ll probably still have to bring in some sort of income after a while.

So this question is really designed to get at what you would do with your time after you buy your dream house, go on all the vacations you want, and watch as much TV as you can stand. After you get all that out of your system, what are you going to do all day?

The process of figuring out what you love to do is not necessarily an easy one.

However, stick with it. Eventually you’ll know when you find something worth pursuing.

Question: What are your three movies and the common theme?

(Consider adding a comment below.)

Receive my free ebook 5 Essential Steps to Landing Your Dream Job when you join the Work You Enjoy VIP newsletter list. Sign up here.


  • Hm, my three movies would be

    1) Harvey

    2) Clue

    3) The Princess Bride

    So an invisible white rabbit killed Vizzini in the kitchen with a candlestick.  In all seriousness, the theme that connects these three is figuring out the story.  Is Elwood Dowd crazy or is his best friend an invisible rabbit? Who killed Mr. Boddy?  Will Grandpa’s story work?

    • I like all those movies too Mike. Do you find that figuring out the story is a passion for you in your life?

  • Anna Runyan

    Here are the three of the many movies I like. 
    – The Devil Wears Prada
    – Limitless
    – The Avengers

    Great post! 🙂

    • Is there a theme that runs through those movies? Does it connect to your passions? Thanks for your comment Anna.

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  • Brooke

    Some of my favorite movies are:

     – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
     – P.S. I Love You
     – Ironman
    Now I know none of these movies are at all similar, but in different ways they are about overcoming something you never thought possible.  For Paul Newman’s character, it was his past, P.S. I Love You is about healing from losing someone you love deeply and finding freedom on the other side, and Tony Stark found a way to keep his heart beating. 

    • Wow! That’s an interesting connection between all those movies Brooke. I wouldn’t have thought of that. Do you find the theme of overcoming something you never thought possible to be prevalent in your own life?

  • Hi Adam! I found your blog through Joe Lalonde. 

    Little Miss Sunshine
    She’s the Man

    Little Miss Sunshine – people being “real” and “raw” dealing with real problems.
    She’s the Man – Lighthearted, makes me laugh, makes me forget about problems. 
    Rent – real life problems and overcoming obstacles.

    • Hi Alana,
      Welcome to my blog. I hope you find it helpful. Thanks for listing your favorite movies. Is there a central theme you can identify that runs through all three movies?

      • Yes, I am intrigued and engaged by your topics! / I think the central theme of Little Miss Sunshine and Rent is being okay with who you are and being okay with being real and raw. There is also an element of overcoming obstacles. I’m a little confused by “She’s the Man” being in this mix. This movie makes me laugh and is light hearted. As I write this, I almost see it like two sides to the same coin – the first two movies represent one side of me, but the third movie is on the other side of the coin and represents another element of me. This is how I would relate them. 

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