There’s a lot of talk about finding passion in our work … but is that a realistic goal for most of us? A good case can be made for “getting real” whenever someone talks about finding passion in their work. More than a few folks would argue that a job is to earn money and passion is what you use the money for in your spare time.
Then again, so many people are working such long hours that there is little time or energy left for passion outside of work, especially once you factor in the basics you have to take care of just to live. And so if you aren’t finding pleasure and personal satisfaction on the job, you may be feeling that life is passing you by. What to do?
Finding passion in work isn’t always a straight line to success
Luckily, we don’t have to find our passion right this minute, not that it wouldn’t be great to do that. But the path to finding a career we love – or at least enjoy a lot – can start right now. All you have to do is: (1) decide that you want that for yourself; and (2) commit to taking steps to get there, no matter how long it takes.
Some things you need to know to help get you there:
- The end result doesn’t have to look exactly like your vision. Your vision helps get you to new places. You just need to stay flexible about recognizing opportunities that open up along the way. But don’t let a fixed vision stop you from seeing the possibilities that could provide equal delight.
- Timing is everything. There’s an old saying in comedy that “timing is everything”. The same is true when searching for a career you feel passionate about. You can’t push an end result. You can just start exploring things that call to you and have the patience to trust that pathways will open up when the time is right. And the courage to know when to say “yes”. And the wisdom to know if the choice is working for you. Searches for careers you love can take years and go through many wrong doors – each a learning experience if you keep your goal in mind.
- Are you confusing passion with constant fun? People who love their careers are not always having fun. Sometimes the work can be hard and boring and frustrating, even if it is your passion. Think of the movie industry. Getting up at 4am and being on set to midnight or beyond at times is no picnic. But for the right person, whatever your career, the whole is greater than the parts.
- Build toward your future. You don’t start at the top and you don’t always find your passion right away. But you can slowly build foundation skills and knowledge and relationships and experiences, each one leading you to firmer and firmer ground. And you can start ANY of that right this minute. Even something as simple as reading an article about your chosen field brings you one step closer.
- The path to passion is rarely linear. There will be twists and turns. Things that surprise you. Places you wind up that feel so wrong you can’t imagine getting yourself back on course. But the vision keeps you going. And so does your ability to admit “this is wrong” and then move on. Many successful people fail. But what makes them successful is the resilience to get right back up and try again. Plus the inner knowledge that they will get to their goal eventually, even if the exact picture has shifted a bit based on what they’ve learned.
BONUS TIP: Start by looking for things that interest you right where you are. Even if you’re in a job you hate, look for one thing that you can contribute to that you would enjoy doing and/or being part of. Really open your mind up to possibility … and let those creative juices flow to help you find something that speaks to you.
It’s these small steps – and making the most of your circumstances whatever they are – that can help open up doors to what you’re eventually looking for.
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