Q: Is it important to be passionate about my job? I like my job, most of the time. Is that enough?
It would be nice for everyone to be passionate about their job. However, passion can be a dangerous term to latch onto, because it is a very tall order! Of course it’s lovely to see old clips of an 11-year old David Beckham on Blue Peter doing keepy-uppies, declaring “I want to be a footballer”. Seeing how his life unfolded to incorporate his passion (assuming it is such!) is heart-warming, but not necessarily achieveable – or even necessary – for everyone.
To me, satisfaction is really the key. It is said that most people are satisfied in their role if they feel they have some autonomy and that they are generally good at what they do. As passion is rarer and more personal, it is more difficult to define in universal terms.
In your work, know what track you would like to be on, and then stop from time to time to ask “Am I OK?”. If you are not where you want to be, or at least on an identifiable road to eventual job satisfaction, correct your path.
Did this question come from within you, or was it triggered by someone or something else? Look inward to determine what is ‘enough’. Be clear on this before progressing these thoughts – otherwise you risk creating a needlessly challenging 2013! You are you. Don’t let any person, book or media soundbite tell you that something needs to change if that’s not actually the case.
As a foundation, I would recommend knowing where your values lie. In my work I have seen that, when employees feel dispassionate or dissatisfied, it’s often to do with the environment or context. It is not because they are doing the wrong job. For example, if you have strong values around Transparency or Community, you will never be at ease in a company that does not engage frequently and openly with its employees, or where some activities feel a bit ‘hidden’ or ‘underhand’. Being an employee or working in an office environment is not the problem. Be careful to spot the difference.
I would also recommend knowing your own behavioural traits. To take one trait in isolation, as an example: if Confidence is a low-scoring trait for you, then People Management may be uncomfortable, no matter what organisation you sit in. By fighting for that promotion, by getting responsibility for more people, you may be working against your own ability to find satisfaction. You are not positioning yourself where you will be comfortable, where you will shine, where you will obtain most positive feedback. Therefore, you are unlikely to find your passion in that role.
So self-awareness is, as always, key.
Be realistic. It can take time for satisfaction to build in the workplace, or for an area of passion to be discovered. Integrate, explore, see where you best fit. Find the tasks and people with whom you work best. Understand the spirit and culture of your organisation. No manager can ‘switch on’ an environment that everyone will feel passionate about, because people are different. But find a way of doing what you are best at within your current environment and your happiness and sense of belonging will likely grow. This brings satisfaction. Passion may then develop.
Passion is good, but it doesn’t need to apply to everything. You may have a satisfactory job, and a passion-fulfilling hobby, for example. Astronomy has already coined the notion of the Goldilocks Zone – a place in space where conditions may be “just right” for life. Find your Goldilocks Zone. Then sit back and enjoy the sense of wellbeing!
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