When I was in college and ran competitively for my school's cross country and track teams, I devoted myself completely to running.
Running, training and competing was all I thought about. For better or worse, it affected how I ate, slept, studied and socialized. It was more than a desire that kept me going, it was a need. I was passionate about running. I was obsessed.
I needed to run every day and push myself to get to a higher level, no matter how it affected me otherwise. I never wanted to take a day off, so I even ran when I should have rested, which probably held me further from my goals.
Now, however, I run for other reasons. I'm still passionate about running, but I don't run for need. I run to relax, feel healthy, and reduce stress. I also use it as a way to keep myself motivated and feeling good at work and home. It's something that supports my life and career in a positive and harmonious way.
The psychologist Robert Vallerand identified two types of passion that people experience- Obsessive passion, the passion that's more rigid and is more of a "need" in life; and Harmonious passion, the passion that isn't overpowering and operates in harmony with other aspects of your life.
Obsessive passion, in the long term, can affect us negatively in multiple areas of our lives because there is a need to pursue it at all costs. Harmonious passion, on the other hand, isn't driven by need, but rather by desire. It fulfills us, makes us happier, but doesn't control us.
Think about this in terms of your career. What are your interests, skills, strengths that you consider "passions," and make you happier to pursue in your work life?
Which aspects of your career would you define as "obsessive" or "harmonious"? How do they fit in to your life in and out of work?
If it's an "obsessive" passion, how is it affecting your job performance? For example, you might be obsessed with preserving your reputation with your colleagues at work. How does that manifest itself in your work, and do those behaviors really help you move ahead? Explore where these passions might be hurting you and see how you can consider pulling back.
As for your "harmonious" passions, how do you see them supporting you and fitting into your life? Which of these passions make you feel more in "flow" and excited to include them into your work life. If you're passionate about being creative, for example, where can you add that to your daily work tasks, or outside of work so it feels like you're fulfilling that desire to push you forward, rather it feeling like life support?
Being passionate about your career and aspects of it isn't a bad thing, but it's important to reflect how that passion fits in to your overall goals and the progress you're making towards them. Do your passions complement your work life in a harmonious way that you desire to have more of them? Or do they hold you back out of obsession and need to pursue them at all costs?
In your search for more passion in your career, focus on the things that support you and make you feel happy and fulfilled without requiring excessive sacrifice. Devoting more time to your harmonious passions will make you feel excited, motivated and encouraged to work towards your bigger career goals.
We all have things that we're passionate about in our life. It could be a hobby, people you have close relationships with, a pet, a skill you're good at, a subject you enjoy learning about, and for those that are lucky, your career.
You may feel that you're not really all that passionate about your current job or career, and passion for your work is something you want more of.
But sometimes that search for more passion in our careers can keep us stuck, because we believe that if we're not passionate about where we are currently, then a fulfilling career can only be found "out there" in other jobs and companies that will provide the answer we're looking for.
One of the biggest blocks I see getting in the way of clients moving towards what they want in their career is the idea that they need to find the perfect position at a company that they're passionate about before they decide to take any action.
The hard truth is that you'll never know what's perfect until you get there, and that might take a lot of time, effort, and trial and error to get to that place in your career. And even then it might not always be what you expect.
But what if you could create more passion and excitement for your career right where you are, instead of searching for it like a mystical quest for a lost city?
It's possible to have more passion for your career no matter what your current circumstances are. Here are three ways you can find it in your career right now:
Follow the feeling - What aspects of your job or career make you feel excited, in the flow, and satisfied? Think about what you do at your job, and then more specifically think about how that makes you feel. Is there anything, even the smallest aspects, that make you feel happy and fulfilled? When you're chasing a career you're passionate about, it's not always about WHAT the specific job is that you're pursuing, but the WHY- the feeling that your dream job will bring you. How can you experience that feeling in what you do in your current job?
Take control of your circumstances - In your job there are aspects that are in your control, and others that are out of your control. Shift your thoughts and your energy in the areas that are in your control. You may not be able to change the fact that you've been assigned a big project on a tight deadline, but you can change how you respond to it. Instead of thinking "why did this happen to me?" ask yourself "what's the opportunity for me in this project?" When you feel more in control of your the way you view your circumstances, you can create a positive energy, and more passion for even the most difficult or mundane tasks.
Bring your passion to work - You've probably heard the idea that it's better to "leave your work at the office," which is harder and harder to do these days in a more connected world. Instead, find ways to include things that bring you pleasure outside of work into your job. If you like to workout, start a running club with your co-workers. Enjoy reading in your spare time? Carve out time during your day, even if it's a few minutes, to break away from your desk and catch up on a book.
In the search for more fulfilling work, there's no need to get caught up "following your passion" via a change in your job, company or career path. Passion for your work isn't something you have to chase, but can experience at any point in your career right where you are.
We often think about getting evaluated and receiving feedback in an external way. Most often through performance reviews, surveys or assessments, or even "likes" on your social media posts.
That kind of external feedback has its place, but it's usually given because your employer, company, or colleagues are trying to help you improve so you can better serve the goals of their organization or team.
But how often do you take the time to evaluate yourself on the goals you're setting for your career? Are you taking the time to determine if you're moving forward to where YOU ultimately want to be?
You want to be happier, more fulfilled and successful in your career based on your personal benchmarks, but at the end of the day you're the only person that can determine how you are making progress towards the goals you set for yourself.
The road to a fulfilling and successful career is a step by step process, and every step you take can give you valuable lessons to make the next step easier and less daunting.
So how can you make sure to evaluate yourself effectively as you set your goals, so that you can take longer strides towards a better career? Start by regularly asking yourself these questions:
1) What happened? The first and most important step is to evaluate what happened in the past. Think about it step by step. For example, if you've been successful in landing a new job in the past, what was the process you used to get you there? You may be able to replicate that in the future.
2) What did I learn? Ask yourself what the main lesson(s) are that you took away from the process. If you set a goal and didn't reach it, what got in the way? Identify what went right or wrong so you can feel confident about doing more (or less) of that in the future.
3) What do I want to improve? After you've determined the lessons you've learned, challenge yourself to not just repeat what you've done, but to be even better at it. If you're aware of what you need to fix, then don't wait to fix it. Start now and make it a habit. Once know what you want to improve, then you can identify what you need to help you be better.
4) Where do I want to be? Determine what the ultimate goal is and evaluate if you are making progress towards that goal. It's important to set smaller, more achievable goals but to also evaluate how they feed into the larger goal you have for yourself. Goals always change, and the path to them is never straight. So if this step took you on a detour, did it change the destination? If it did, adjust your course appropriately.
If you want to reach any goal in your career, big or small, you need to consistently evaluate your progress. Every experience and every step you take towards your ultimate goal is a learning experience, so instead of repeating the steps you've already taken, take the feedback from your self-evaluation to take bold, exciting and challenging new steps.
Do you remember the last great book you couldn't put down? Or the last TV show you binged because at the end of every episode you needed to know what happened next?
It's a fun feeling when you get that curious and engaged with something. When you become so intrigued by the possibilities that you need to turn to the next page, or click to the next episode to find out more.
That same curiosity can serve you well as you search for the next direction in your career.
A lot of what keeps us stuck from moving forward is not knowing what's ahead. And it's in these moments when you need to take a chance on the new and unknown.
If you feel stuck, lost, overwhelmed, and not sure where to turn next, just start with where you're curious.
When I was at a point in my career when I felt stuck and knew I wanted to make a career change out of the entertainment industry, I started to look where I was curious- and that was teaching and coaching.
Of course I didn't know where to begin or where the story would end, so I started from the beginning. I researched what it took to become a teacher, I interviewed teachers and coaches about their careers, and I volunteered to teach and tutor kids. Every step I took was turning a new page, and led me to the next chapter.
So start by picking the "book" that intrigues you. It could be learning more about a particular company, or career field. Or knowing how to start a business. Or reaching out to friends or new contacts to find out more about their story, and hearing about what they do and how they got there.
From there, just keep turning to the next page. Follow where the story leads you. Ask your contacts for a referral, research the requirements for a particular career, seek out the next valuable resource that can provide more information.
You won't have all of the answers in one sitting, and it might be a slow build, but page by page you'll get closer to knowing the whole story.
If you know you're ready for change in your career, but you're not sure what the next step is, of course you're going to want to jump right to the end of the story. Just remember all you need to do is start at the first chapter.
Then turn the page.
Have you ever been in a situation where you've had to make a big decision and you were really stuck on what choice to make?
In your career, you have probably encountered many of these types of decisions. It could have been about a project at work, taking a new job, moving to another city, or even deciding if you should quit to start a new venture or look for another position.
When we're faced with tough decisions like these, we often turn to our friends, family and advisors for guidance and help because it's hard to trust ourselves when we don't know what's on the other side of the decision.
We look for other people to give us an answer in the hope that their insight and experience will direct us to the way we couldn't find ourselves.
While insight from people we trust can be helpful, your decision will only be truly fulfilling if you look to what you value most to guide you.
Values are your personal principles, standards and beliefs that guide you towards what you believe is important in your life and work. They're based on your personal life experience, and are constantly evolving but always serve as your "north star."
Think of your values as a combination to a lock. Everyone has a unique set of values, with a unique combination.
The goal in your decision making should be to match up as many of your top values as you can to hit the right combination. If more than a few are off, you'll struggle opening the lock.
If your top values are freedom, humor, and honesty, your choices are going to be much different than someone who values loyalty, responsibility, and respect.
When you struggle in your career, it's usually because one or more of your values is being compromised. If you can identify what value is challenged, then you can create a strategy to bring more of your values in alignment with your current situation to feel more fulfilled.
In your career decisions, use your values as your primary guide. Find the companies with a mission and values that align with yours, look for jobs that feel like a right fit for your current values, connect with others that share the same values as you do.
By identifying and honoring the things you value in your life and work, you'll have more confidence, clarity and enthusiasm for ever decision that you make.
What are your top values and how can you honor them more in your career?
Interested in learning what your top values are and how you can use them for more fulfillment and success in your career? Contact me to know more.