This is a time of life and career transition for a lot of people. I have had times in my adult life when I asked myself, what should I do? At times I felt as if I had no viable career options; other times I felt as if the job world was in the palm of my hand. This year especially, I have had ups and downs of feeling highly productive and focused to unsure and undirected.

So, what should I do? What should you do?

I have found that the answer to that question is always, do what makes you feel good, happy, productive, and all those nice feelings. It can be your career path, a hobby, a side hustle, a relationship, a goal, anything really. It should be something that you would do for free, meaning that even if no one paid you or you didn’t receive a form of compensation, you would still be just as passionate about it.

I started a new business this year, as you can see, and have enjoyed the start up process immensely. The process has taught me that that the thing I would do for free is what we call in the design world, programming. Programming encompasses a lot of things, but in a nutshell, programming is defining a client’s goals regarding a building project. These include the client’s budget, schedule, scope, and aesthetics. All of these components make up the project’s “program”. For me, this process is like a mystery unfolding as each piece of the puzzle is revealed through client interviews and meetings and case study research. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy forming this relationship with a client and finding design solutions to meet their needs.

Now, to all potential clients reading this, I still intend to receive compensation. The whole “working for free” idea is hypothetical in my case. Don’t even try it  .

I think it’s especially helpful to identify the thing or things that you would hypothetically “do for free”. They should be guides for you when making life decisions or going through a rough patch. So, let’s say, you enjoy woodworking. Can you find ways to do it more often, or get your friends involved? Can it be a source of income for you? Maybe it’s a relaxing outlet for you to work on during the weekends. It’s just as valuable either way. Doing these things you love can really improve your mental wellbeing and outlook on life.

We all have to do things we don’t necessarily like to do, for example, take out the trash, mundane paperwork, commute to work, pay the water bill, you know, all those things. These keep our lives functioning as normal and don’t necessarily define our identity.

How can your identity and life in general benefit from adding more of something you are passionate about and love? I bet that even thinking about the thing you love makes you feel happier. Try it. Maybe it’s babysitting your baby nephew or writing novels or running or researching American history. Whatever it is, identify it soon and build more of it into your life.