As we all know, statistically the majority of Americans are not happy with their jobs or career. I am not going to pin point any specific numbers, because the percentage varies from 60 to 80%, depending on which source you’re looking at. Either way, it makes me wonder, why is it that so many people are unhappy with their careers. Was it a poor career choice to start with or perhaps they were passionate about their jobs in the beginning and over time that passion wore off? Many people I talk to claim that they don’t know what they are passionate about or they think they are not passionate about anything at all. If that’s you, I have good news – yes you do have a passion and I bet you even know what it is and we’ll get to it later.
First, let’s define what passion is. The dictionary defines passion as a powerful compelling emotion or feeling or desire. By my definition, passion is not just a feeling or desire, in my opinion it also involves action. I define passion as a compelling, self-generated desire to create something or make something happen over a long period of time without any immediate promise of a reward. Different from motivation which typically involves a promised reward in the end or a simple inspiration, which typically happens in the moment, passion is something that lasts for months, or even years and the immediate rewards are rare. Most of the time we are not even thinking about the rewards as doing what we are passionate about is a reward in itself. There are times you may not even feel motivated to do anything, yet your passion will find a way to make it happen.
If you look back and think about what made you decide to choose the career you’re currently in, what was it? Was it your desire to make your parent proud? Were you chasing fame and fortune, carefully calculating which career would be the most profitable and where you could be most successful? Or did you just mind your own business ignoring and resisting everyone’s advice until a perfect at the time job opportunity simply fell into your lap? Regardless of what your personal story about it is, somehow you ended up being in a place you are in right now – unhappy about your job and staying there because you need to pay your bills. The real question is, did you really follow your passion to pick your career? For some of you this may be the answer to your misery. Some of you may argue that initially you were passionate and loved what you were doing, you may even still love the work itself, but the politics are a mess, too much overtime work, your co-workers are mean, you are not getting paid enough and yada yada yada…
If you were passionate about your job in the beginning, what happened over time? What made you lose your passion and why can’t you feel it anymore? Let me speak to that. Think of a passion as a fire, a self-generated fire, that initially gets ignited deep within your soul. This fire has a potential to grow stronger overtime and burn brighter, or it can die off overtime. All fires need fuel in order to continue burning. Your passion needs more than one type of fuel in order to continue to burn brighter, although some fuel types can keep it alive longer while others are missing.
The first and the biggest fuel that will keep your passion going for the longest is making a contribution and helping others. If other people are not getting any value or benefit from whatever you are doing, you will eventually want to stop doing it. The other fuel is support from others: family, friends, co-workers, clients, your career coach J. The third important fuel system is having a balanced lifestyle where you get to spend enough time with your family and not work all the time. Your compensation is also a fuel for your passion, although not the strongest one. I am not saying money is not important. But sometimes many of us can survive for long periods of time on low income if we get to do what we love. But even the happiest low-income individuals complain about money or the high cost of living every now and then. And finally, in order to keep the fire of your passion alive, you have to grow in your career – constantly expanding and learning new things.
Finally, for those of you who think you don’t have any passions or you don’t know what you are passionate about – I believe you do, you simply don’t think you have enough fuel to keep your passion going and your fire has been long extinguished by the sold water of many reasons why what you really want to do won’t work.