Finding Your Passion At Work
There may be ways to bring meaning to work, and work may offer
an intrinsic opportunity to grow in character and virtue, but none of
that is to say that you should not enjoy your work or find something
to do with your 86,400 hours that you find fulfilling and meaningful.
But finding something that you can be passionate about and meeting
the demands of the economic reality of our modern culture is becoming
increasingly more difficult.
If you could do anything, what would you do? Are you willing to
make sacrifices in order to do it? Are you willing to give up money
or status, downsize to a smaller home, or give up free time for more
training or schooling?
I have always asked that first question when conducting job interviews.
The candidates are often afraid to tell you because they are
concerned that they will sound as if they don’t want the job they are
interviewing for. The truth is, you want them to be honest. You are
trying to learn a little about what they aspire to. You can tell a lot
about a person by what he or she aspires to.
The first step, of course, is to work out what your passions are.
Most people don’t really know. They know what they don’t want because
they already have it or have seen it. But few people really know
what they want. Even fewer have a clear sense of what they are well
What are your passions? Take a few minutes and make a list. Just
write from your stream of consciousness. Don’t overthink things.
You may be passionate about chocolate, baseball, or educating people
about what is causing the massive increase in cancer. Write them
down. Write it all down, anything that excites you, anything that energizes
you. Just write it all down.
When we are children, people ask us all the time, “What are you
going to be when you grow up?” But it seems today, more and more
adults are asking themselves, What am I going to be when I grow up?
In an e-mail a couple of weeks ago, one of my readers wrote, “Today
I caught myself counting the days to the weekend—and it is only
Monday!” Is the fact that so many people wish five days away in order
to get to two not a clear indication that today’s workers are chronically
Whenever I talk to people on planes or at book signings, I like to
observe their rising and falling levels of energy and enthusiasm as we
discuss a variety of topics. When most people talk about their work,
they use a completely different tone from the one they use in talking
about their children or their next vacation. In another e-mail, one of
my readers explained, “Today is my third day back at work since my
annual two-week vacation and I am already planning next year’s. I
have to believe that if I was more satisfied in my work I would spend
less time planning and daydreaming about my next vacation.” Others
speak about rewarding themselves just to get through the days and
weeks. Some people reward themselves with chocolate, others by going
shopping or by taking themselves out to a favorite restaurant for
dinner, and others by drinking or vegetating in front of the television
for hours every night. If we were more passionately engaged in our
work, would all of these rewards play such a prominent role in our
lives? I think not.
So what are you going to do when you grow up? It’s not like it is as
it was a hundred years ago, when a man did what his father did and a
woman had babies and took care of the house. Today the possibilities
are extraordinary. The bigger problem today is probably that there are
just too many options. I am not going to tell you that you can do anything
you set your mind to; that would be a lie. But I am going to tell
you that you deserve to have work that engages you passionately. I am
not going to tell you that someone is just going to walk along and give
you such a job. It is most likely going to be very hard to move from
where you are to where you would like to be. The secret is finding
something that you are well suited for.
From Perfectly Yourself
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