When I first realised, I’d ended up in a career that wasn’t the right fit for me, I searched high and low for answers on what to do about it. But I kept bumping up against this question of “passion”… and every time it brought things to a screeching halt.
I’ve always HATED questions about “passion”… as in “what’s your greatest passion?” or “what are you most passionate about”. Answers like “shopping” or “watching TV” or “collecting frequent flyer points” or “George Clooney” (showing my age, LOL) never seemed either adequate or appropriate!
How was I ever going to find the right career for me when I wasn’t passionate about anything “important”?
Eventually I realised this (potentially controversial) truth…
You do NOT need passion to design a successful and meaningful career
I know, I know… there are plenty of examples of incredibly successful careers and businesses built around passion. Back in the days when such things were possible, pretty much any gathering you attended had at least one person who’s done just that. Am I right? To those in this category, I salute you.
But if you’re like me, just not passionate about anything that delivers either a meaningful day at work or, more importantly, an income… what is the secret ingredient to designing a career that’s the right fit for you?
From my personal experience, and the conversations I’ve had with many different professionals and business owners from all walks of life… what you actually need is a “purpose”. Umm? But… isn’t “purpose” just another one of those buzzwords closely related to “passion”?
Well, possibly… but the big difference between passion and purpose is that where we might be lacking in passion, we all 100% have a purpose. Yes, really!
If you don’t believe me, here’s some places to start to identify yours –
1. CONSIDER YOUR MOTIVATIONS
What is it that gets you out of bed every day and why? You can think about this from a personal or professional perspective or both. Is it to care for and create a better life for your family? To solve a problem? To engage with and interact with your workmates? To make enough money to travel and see the world (sigh)? What is it that propels you into your office, shop, studio, or car AND what is it that keeps you doing that even when it feels really hard? This is what motivates you.
2. WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST?
What’s most important to you informs and guides everything you do – your thoughts, your words, and your actions. These are the ideas and beliefs that matter to you. Think about and describe your ideal work-life (either as a voice recording or in writing) – go into the details about where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re with and what’s enjoyable or satisfying in this place. Then read over or listen back to this description and dig into why these details feel important to you. These are your values.
3. WHAT SORT OF IMPACT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE?
We all do things to create some sort of outcome. This doesn’t have to be saving the world – it can relate to your day-to-day life, your reputation, your community or an ethical or creative problem you feel strongly about. Think about the things that constantly niggle at you, the things you spend time on and take the lead in sorting out (at work or at home) and the things that you apply your time and attention to trying to resolve. What would you most like to be remembered for? Let this be a guide to your purpose.
4. STILL STRUGGLING TO WORK IT OUT, HERE’S SOME THOUGHT STARTERS
Consider your responses to these questions –
- What sort of things do you do without even thinking about it?
- When you’re starting a task or project, what are the first things you do?
- When you feel satisfied or accomplished, what’s just happened?
Simon Sinek refers to it as Starting with Why and there’s plenty of other research that supports “purpose” as the essential element for achieving your version of career success and wellbeing. When the work you do is meaningful, you feel motivated, enthusiastic, inspired and far more likely to feel positive about who you are and what you do.
Taking the time to identify and articulate your purpose equips you to be more assertive in your decision making, tackle unexpected obstacles and feel certainty about your career choices. If you’re looking for some extra help to uncover your purpose, let’s discuss how I can help you stop trying to figure it out and take action.