Today’s post is a contribution for the annual Job Action Day. The theme is inspired by Mike Rowe’s online commencement speech for Prager University. “He suggests, instead of following their passion, jobseekers should consider following the opportunities that are available to them—and then bring their passions with them to the job.”
Have you consciously identified a need to have passion for your work vs. considering your job a practical necessity? Do you let your bias regarding this impact your job search? Have you hesitated to pursue job opportunities because you aren’t committed to or excited about the work? Of course, the best career or job is the one in which you’re using the skills you enjoy. But, not every job needs to address all of your passions. It makes sense to use every job as an opportunity to learn something new and keep an open mind; you may find that you really enjoy something you never imagined would appeal to you.
Sometimes, however, a job can be just a job. Many, many people take care of problems at work not because they are passionate about what they are doing, but because they take pride in a job well done. It’s powerful to recognize work can be a way to make a living and doesn’t need to be steeped in passion.
If you are concerned that you should be more passionate about your work, here are some steps to take to make the most out of your current job, no matter what you do.
Evaluate your job. Maybe there are parts of your job that play to your passions without you even recognizing it! For example, if you are in customer service, you may dislike handling problems all day, but solving concerns is something you really enjoy. Give credit to all the parts of your job that appeal to you.
Leverage your interests. Perhaps you can influence a change in your current work environment. If you’re in a job that doesn’t offer much in the way of upward mobility, consider offering to volunteer to head up an initiative that does play to your passions. For example, maybe you’d like to see your company recycle more, and you can offer to help work on that. Or, maybe you want to organize a collection to donate to the local food pantry. Perhaps you’d like to have a series of speakers come to talk to you and your colleagues. If you volunteer to set it up, your employer may support this effort. Just because your job may be static doesn’t mean you can’t extend yourself and try new things.
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Learn new things. Would you like to extend your career in a different direction, but you don’t have the resume to support the change? Identify what skills you are missing and take a class. Or, use volunteer opportunities to help get some experience. For example, if you don’t have any formal experience using management skills, managing that food drive or planning a speaker series can give you some of these skills.
Leverage your passions outside of work. If you don’t have a passion for your work, make more of an effort to enjoy your time outside of work. You may even find that newfound passion can become a side business that leads to work happiness down the road. Are you a creative person, but you work in an uncreative profession? Look for a hobby or take a class. When you’re not working, you have more control over how you spend your time, so be sure to tap into your passions. When you spend more time doing what you love, it helps your overall happiness, which will positively affect how you feel at work.
You may be surprised to learn you have an opportunity to include many more passionate interests in your job and in your free time than you may have realized!