When you wake up on a working day, do you think to yourself ‘I’m so looking forward to today and all the exciting things the day ahead will bring?‘
These days we’re all being urged to ‘find our passion’ but what if we don’t know what it is or how to find it? Or perhaps we know what it is but we don’t know to go on about following it? We’re expected to take control of our careers, but often with minimal resources or support.
In our busy lives, the days, weeks, and months fly by and it’s very easy to find ourselves on a career path determined by others or by circumstances. That job offer or project that came along and is now a career. We get stuck where we are and can end up feeling uninspired and lacking motivation. I’ve been there myself and I know what it’s like.
And the one thing we never get around to doing is taking a step back and asking ourselves ‘What do I really want to be doing?’ ‘What will make me jump out of bed with joy every day, even on a Monday morning?’
Last week, Simon and I delivered a very engaging and interactive workshop at Barclays HQ in London as part of their Careers Week. What we found was that people didn’t know what questions to ask themselves to help them find out what they are passionate about and how they can gain that invaluable insight about themselves. We also saw on our social media that people wanted to know more about how to find their passion. So, I want to use this blog to help you to take that step back and explore what motivates you, what’s really important to you and what you are passionate about.
Passion. What is it to you?
First of all, take a moment to think about what feeling passionate about your work means to you.
Your passion is the reason you wake up in the morning, and just the thought of it can keep you up late with excitement although preferably not too late. It can also be a quieter feeling of satisfaction, knowing you’re living life on your terms.
What are the benefits?
Have you ever wondered what difference will feeling passionate about your work make to you? What about to your family, to your company and to society?
I personally know how scary it can be when you feel like your life has no purpose or direction but finding your passion can change all that.
Finding your passion is like finding your personal road map. When you find your passion you feel happy, fulfilled, work doesn’t really feel like work, your relationships with your family and colleagues improve and many more… And you are so much clearer about in what direction you are heading and what steps to take.
Feeling lost, confused, perplexed?
Quite often we know what we don’t want or what we don’t like and sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint what we actually do want out of our career. When, I’ve been in such situations myself and I was stressed, it affected my health and at times because I wasn’t the happiest person to be around it also impacted my relationships. When I know what I want, I’m happy and driven. It’s fantastic being in that state of spreading positivity to those around me and energising them to live a more fulfilling life.
The first exercise is designed to help you identify what you really want and what really matters to you.
1. What really matters to me – The Rocking Chair test
Fast forward into the future, many years from now, imagine you are sitting on your rocking chair, the sun is shining, you are feeling happy and really pleased with the wonderful life you’ve had. Looking back over your life and your work and all that you have achieved and acquired, the relationships you have developed, what has mattered to you most? Close your eyes and take a moment to think about it all.
Think about the high points of your career?
- What has made you feel proud?
- What made you happy?
- What kept you going in your job day after day, year after year?
Think about what does that give you? Think of single abstract words like purpose, opportunity, creativity. These are your values. Prioritise your values by what’s most important to you in your job.
Then, look for those that you currently have in your role and highlight those that you don’t have in your job right now?
Loving your job is quite a simple formula in which you have to bring your operational values and idealistic values together.
Idealistic values are the values we want to have in work but we often don’t especially in a job we don’t like. Operational values are the values we already have in our job even if we don’t like it and they are the ones that keep us there. Let me give you an example, I have a friend who stayed in the same job for 7 years even if though in the first 3 months she realised it wasn’t challenging enough for her. What kept her all these years was the perceived security, a structure to her daily life and the comfort of being in a friendly environment.
Often if someone likes the area they work in, they tend to have the same idealistic and operational values. So, to be happy and fulfilled in a job you have to have both idealistic and operational values met. The operational have to be firmly set within your career goal. Sometimes you may be able to change something in your job which will fulfil your idealistic values and then you won’t need to change your job.
What is one important value to you that you have in your current role?
What is one important value to you that you don’t currently have in your job?
2. Discover Your Interests and Passions
Now, we’ve looked at what’s fundamentally important to you. Let’s look at what you love doing, what you lose yourself in and discover your passions. Complete the following sentences:
- When I lose track of time I am usually doing…
- If I had to teach someone to do something it would be…
- I feel great about myself when…
- I’m naturally good at… (Skills, abilities, gifts, etc.)
- When I look at article headlines (magazines, newspapers, online), the following words and subjects make me stop and read…
3. Remove Your Limitations and Free up Your Mind
We all too often deny our passions and don’t follow our dreams. We tend to come up with a lot of reasons and excuses why something is not possible. Often, it’s because we think it’s too hard to earn a living that way. We all have bills to pay and they can be so overwhelming that we don’t have time to think about how we actually want to live our life. Sometimes, we are own worst enemies and it’s because we don’t think we are good enough.
So, the next exercise will help you with removing your limitations and freeing up your mind to make the impossible possible.
Imagine you have £100 million in your bank account and you don’t have to work for money. How would you spend the majority of your time?
If you were guaranteed that you would become successful in whatever you pursued, what would you do?
If you don’t make a change to your life now and you carry on as you are and you come to the end of your life, what would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
4. Moment of Truth
Thinking about your current job ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I feel on a working Monday morning?
- What do I enjoy about my work? What makes it exciting and rewarding?
- What do I dislike about my role? What’s boring, dissatisfying, frustrating about it?
- What’s different since I first started my job? What would I miss about my work?
5. Take Stock
Have a look through your answers and what you have highlighted. What is coming out loud and clear for you?
With this in mind, ask yourself:
- What did I learn about myself?
- How can I use the insights gained in my life now?
- What career goal(s) have I identified to focus on first?
6. Action Plan
Well done, you’ve taken time for yourself to reflect. You have started seeing themes emerging of what you are passionate about and what drives you. Now, to set yourself on the path to following your passion you need to have a clear and concise action plan going forward. What are the first three steps that you will take to move yourself towards achieving your goal?
List three tangible steps that you are going to take. One of these must be within the next 24-48 hours. Be as specific as you can of what exactly you are going to do. Specify a time and date and how much time you will need to complete your action.
Action 1. In the next 48 hours, I will …
Lastly, put a reminder in your phone or diary explaining why the change you want to make is important to you. This will keep you motivated to keep working on your aspirations.
7. Get the right support
Remember, you are far more likely to be successful if your goals are written down and your action plan shared with someone to keep you on track. Think about the support you need to succeed in what you want to achieve. You may obtain this from a peer, a mentor, someone who is objective, someone who will tell you it as it is but will challenge you and encourage you to move forward when the going gets tough.
If this post has given you some food for thought and you’d like to find out how we could support you to move internally, externally or make changes within how you work, I’d be delighted to have a chat with you.