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Finding Your Passion

Can a job that’s a drag become joyful?

Source: xmee/Shutterstock

I believe you are your work. Don’t trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That’s a rotten bargain.” – Rita Mae Brown

If you don’t like mysteries or animals, you’ve possibly never heard of Rita Mae Brown, novelist and author of the Mrs. Murphy mystery series. Most importantly, she is a person who loves what she does and makes a good living doing it.

Too many people work just for the paycheck. And the paycheck is important – there are kids to feed, rent to pay, and new shoes to buy when the old ones finally wear out. Everything is expensive, and having an income is critical to survival. In many cases, the message is that work should not be fun – weekends, or time off for vacation or personal days, is when you should have your fun. Work is, well, it’s “work”. It shouldn’t be enjoyed; it’s just something to get through on your journey to somewhere else.

The whole retirement industry is set up on this premise. Work hard, save a lot and someday when you can finally stop, you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor and kick back. Images of coffee on the deck, warm places in the winter, sailboats and time with grandkids come to mind. It can be a peaceful transition from a lifetime of work, but what if you could find joy and satisfaction long before you punch the last proverbial timesheet?

You can find your passion. For many people, they are stuck – can’t take a risk and lose that paycheck when it keeps the lights on and feeds their families. But what if you could find joy in what you do right now? What if you could integrate your passion into your work and pave a new path forward? There are ways to find satisfaction even if you can’t leave what you do today.

If you believe your work life is missing that sense of joie de vivre, maybe instead of dragging yourself in to wherever you need to go tomorrow, you could adopt a different perspective and start igniting your passion:

  1. Start by thinking about what makes you happy. In life, people are always either moving toward a more positive place, or away from something they don’t like. Unfortunately, when you get stuck in a rut at work, your focus becomes what you dislike about it. So, what does make you happy? It can be anything – the smiling face of your child, being helpful to others, discovering a new idea, taking on a challenge, going somewhere you love to be. Figure out what gets you upbeat and energized, and resolve to add it into your day somehow. But wait, you can’t leave work to go to your favorite beach, right? Make the beach come to you – post a picture somewhere or pull it out of your wallet or purse a few times each day. Take the mental break to bring your attention toward that which you love.
  2. Identify your strengths and areas of opportunity. What are you best at? What makes you feel like you have contributed and added value? Examine whether your current job allows you to make the most of what you do well and like to do. If not, find ways to incorporate these things. Take on a problem, fix something, talk to your boss about ways you can add more value. Everyone feels better about what they do when they are doing something they are good at. Find more opportunities in your daily life to contribute on your terms.
  3. Start taking a course, teaching a course, volunteering, pursuing a hobby, engaging in part-time work – funnel your passion and interest into another area outside of your job if you can’t find satisfaction in your current job. Whatever you are passionate about, find an outlet for that. There are so many places and opportunities to find what fuels you. Express yourself in other areas outside of your work or career. You might find that doing so leads to opportunities for a paying passion.
  4. Talk to others about what they do and how they got into their job or career. Sometimes people say, “I don’t know what I am passionate about.” They have been beaten down by their job or boss, or become so stuck they can’t see another way. Get out and talk to others. Have a rule – no complaining, no talking down about your current situation; rather, become inspired and uplifted by someone else’s story. Be a sponge and learn about what others do to get ideas about what might be interesting to you.
  5. Set a goal with specifics and timelines about where you want to be next year at this time. Instead of being in a continuous loop of dissatisfaction, write out where you want to go and what you want to be doing instead. The better you can picture it and describe it, the more your mind will want to move toward it. Focus on becoming more passionate, and design what that looks like to you.