A badass career doesn’t have to mean saving lives or flying planes—it just has to be meaningful to YOU. And it’s not as hard as you might think to get started.

I have a badass career. I fly an EMS helicopter in Alaska. But here’s the thing: I don’t really think of myself as badass. I just think of myself as a normal person who has a really cool office.

“Every day ordinary people do extraordinary things.”-Bob Richards, Olympic Pole Vaulter

Creating your own badass career doesn’t have to be as out there as saving lives, building schools in Africa, setting up libraries around the world or any of those making-a-huge-impact-everyday types of jobs. Your career just needs to be meaningful to you. Because living a meaningful life is badass.

Here’s how to create your own badass career:

1. Seek out passionate people

Inspiring people inspire others. As Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and personal development coach, says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So banish the “Debbie Downers” in your life.

If you want a fulfilling career, hang out with people who are fulfilled. It doesn’t matter if you don’t share their same passions. Passion is contagious; infect yourself. Figure out your “why.”

2. Develop a side hustle

A side gig is a way to generate income outside of your day job. Launching a side hustle will give you the financial resources to explore other job options. Your day job will no longer feel like a ball and chain. A productive side hustle will free you up to try new things without having to worry about the next promotion or getting downsized.

3. Consider the unconsidered

I never thought I’d fly helicopters until I took a ride in one. Growing up in Alaska, it’s common to fly, and I had my fixed-wing pilot’s license. I flew as a hobby, but the only aviation job that occurred to me at first was piloting a commercial airliner, which wasn’t appealing to me. It wasn’t until I considered other options that I realized flying could actually become my career.

Carve out time to try new things and dig deeper into fields that interest you. You never know what might come of it.

4. Define your ideal job

It’s important to know what you want in a career. What would a day or week or month at your ideal job look like? Do you need a lot of social interaction? Then working from home may not be for you. Do you need a steady paycheck? Then the variable income of freelancing or consulting may be too uncertain to be enjoyable. Do you want a location independent career? Or to only work part of the year? Use your side-hustle as an opportunity to try out different career options.

I thought it would be fun to own a bookstore—until I worked in a bookstore and realized it was more about stocking shelves than helping someone find the perfect book. Identify what you want before looking for jobs that can offer it.

5.Tap into your network

Share your ideas with friends. Let them know you’d like to find out more about whatever you’re interested in. They’ll often be able to direct you to people who know someone in that field. Be valuable. Connect with people both online and offline. Be authentic and share your interests with them.

6. Start before you’re ready

We often want to wait until we have it all figured out or we are completely prepared. But we’ll always be less experienced than someone. So stop comparing yourself to others. If you commit to doing something, by the time you get there, you’ll have figured out how to do it.

I started blogging to build an audience for my novel. My blog has led to freelance writing gigs and teaching classes on social media. You won’t always know exactly where you are going or how you’ll get there. That’s okay. Pick your best guess direction and start today.

You already are badass. Now create your badass career.

Lorena Knapp is an EMS helicopter pilot and writer living in Alaska. She blogs about flying and creating your own Big Life today at Big State, Big Life.


  1. Ijeoma Stephanie

    #6 is big. Sometimes, it’s better to jump in and try than waiting till the right moment.

    • Lorena

      Absolutely. I tell myself this all the time and I always seem to manage to figure it out as I go along- which actually makes the journey really interesting.


  2. Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

    I enjoyed reading this piece. Agreed that #6 is big!

    • Lorena

      Thanks Alison. I honestly think this might be the most important of them all. 🙂


  3. Mike Hobgood

    This is a great article…..can ALWAYS use helpful information to keep me focused….now to find those fullfilled individuals….

    • Lorena

      Thanks. Try to connect both online and in person. Or online and then meet up in person. Nothing like an in person meeting to catapult the connection forward.


  4. Megan E.

    I love this advice. I’m trying to get into this very mindset, so GREAT timing! Thank you!

    • Lorena

      Glad you found it helpful. Keep surrounding yourself with passionate people and this mindset will be your “new normal.”


  5. Razwana

    What useful advice, Lorena. Much like your book store experience, I am a huge advocate of testing something ‘risk free’ before investing time/money into it. Sometimes asking someone who is doing the job already about a typical ‘day in the life of’ gives you enough info to make the decision!

    I think this is where the ‘follow your passion’ advice goes wrong – you may love books, but working in a library/book shop may not be something you love.

    – Razwana

    • Lorena

      Great tip. Perhaps it should be “follow your passion” in a “risk free” way before jumping in with both feet.


      • Razwana

        Sounds like a great idea for a blog post, Lorena 🙂

  6. DocHollywood_2

    What useless advice. Not a single “original” idea in the entire article. Just like graduate school (MBA) where they tell you to talk to the advertising department, finance, HR or IT even when you are a sole proprietor. No clue as how to do it and how much it will cost when you have no resources AT ALL

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