Do you look back on the days when your naive energy shot you out of bed in the mornings? Or dwell on the nights when you were too excited to sleep in anticipation of going to work?
If you no longer identify with these scenarios, or dread the thought of waking up to work, you might be burnt out, stressed out or you may lost your career passion.
There used to be a time your plans were strategically laid out to create a sustainable and fulfilling career for yourself. As you know, plans don’t always work out. But you also know this is okay, because you are resourceful enough to land on your feet. The point is that your career passion, once fueled by dreams and motivation, has dissolved into a pile of ashes you’d rather bury.
What happened – are you just unlucky, did you make a wrong choice or earn the wrong degree?
No, no and no.
What we know right now is that you are on a journey. This journey will involve nasty bumps, potholes and roadblocks along the way. Losing your career passion is a common roadblock. You’re stuck, unhappy, and you want a way out, yet fail to see one.
Once upon a time, you had a vision. This vision involved a superb education with fulfilling employment that offered meaningful ways to accomplish great things. That was your plan, your career passion.
However, reality has offered a different plan. For you, reality might include quelling administrative fires, accomplishing monotonous busywork, and satisfying management at all costs. Or, your reality might involve painting numbers, consistently looking over your shoulder, or spending endless hours on the phone with your foreign IT department.
There is a clear gap between your passion and your job duties. So, how do you resolve this gap? You resolve it by learning how to reconcile “the way things should be” (passions) with “the way things are” (reality). Not an easy thing to do!
But what might this look like?
First, consider the true purpose of work (contrary to popular belief, it is not money, titles or benefits):
Service: contribution toward something greater than you as an individual. Because as a collective, people make profound impacts as opposed to working solo. The next time you’re frustrated or wishing for more, think in terms of service: ask yourself how you can help others, how you can contribute, and how you can make those around you better.
Development: evolve your skills, enhance your character, and progress your brain. The way to do this is by defeating obstacles, challenges, and road bumps. One way to defeat obstacles, challenges and road bumps is to go to work. How can you rise above the difficult coworkers or incompetent management and perform your best despite their intentions? And this, my friends, requires a lot. It requires you to be a mature emotional adult.
Legacy: manipulate your strengths, maximize your output, and be a proactive change agent. This includes unraveling your authenticity, applying your strengths and seeking improvements. Always leave a position and leave a company in better shape than you found it.
Now that you understand your purpose for work, here is an exercise to help you start the process of reconciling the way things “should be” with the way things “are.”
1. Get clear on your reality.
In other words, learn to separate out your subjective narrative about work from the true facts. The facts are: you have a job, a boss, colleagues, customers and assigned duties. Other than this, all opinions and self-talk are subjective stories you tell yourself (i.e., “this isn’t what I expected, I’m in the wrong job, etc.”).
2. Get clear on your passions. List them on paper and describe what they should look like in your life.
3. Match numbers 1 & 2 as much as possible.
How can you find opportunities at work to apply your strengths in a way that satisfies some of your passions? How can you become more curious and explorative as opposed to just being diligent?
4. Look outside of your employment to fulfill the passions that employment can’t.
Your career, created by your employer and in your employer’s interest, exists because you are qualified to accomplish the tasks at hand. Tasks that were created specifically in conjunction with other people’s tasks to reach organizational goals. There is no guarantee that affords your passions to be fulfilled on the job. The employment exchange is that you provide value in return for compensation under the employer’s terms and conditions. That’s it.
Therefore, fulfilling a career passion is your own responsibility and you must take ownership. That usually means a proactive pursuit outside the workplace.
You don’t have to suffer in silence. In fact, you don’t have to suffer at all. Check out my course, Overcoming Career Constraints, to help you become the person who can reconcile “the way things should be” (passions) with “the way things are” (reality).
Do you work in a passionless career? Send me a note and let me know how it affects your wellbeing!