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What's In Your Future
Written by Sharon Kolodychuk, BA, CPHR
Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, are you wondering where your career passion is?
It’s that time of year - no, it’s not New Year’s but SPRING … the time of year we all look forward to when the trees and the plants and the animals start showing signs of rebirth … of new life. So, your mind starts wandering and you start thinking about new possibilities and …
Is my job fulfilling?
Am I living my career purpose?
Am I really making a difference?
Do I really like what I’m doing?
In these moments of self-reflection, it’s important to remember that your job is not who you are … it is simply what you are doing on your way to becoming who you are meant to be … it’s really about finding the passion in your career purpose.
So many of us search unendingly for that ‘light bulb moment’, the epiphany that unequivocally tells us we are doing what we were born to do … what we are meant to do … what will ultimately give us the satisfaction in life we so greatly desire and drives us to be more.
And that, in and of itself, is the problem with the whole ‘light bulb moment’. For most people, the idea of “finding our passion” is the same as well, finding the holy grail - something so far out of reach for the majority because it only happens to a chosen few … and we’ve all come across at least one of those chosen few on our journey. It can be so frustrating when these people who claim to have found their passion simply say, without giving you any sense of direction, “Just follow your passion!” If you’re like most of us, sure you’d love to – now, if only you knew what your passion really was.
Take a look in the mirror and you’ll probably see that you are THAT person who works hard … you PUSH through no matter what … your mantra “NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT” etched in your mind and staring at you from a large Post-It Note on the wall above your computer. Your DEDICATION and COMMITMENT and PERSEVERANCE is always evident to anyone who knows you but, every day, slowly and deliberately you start to ask, “Is the grind all worth it?”
If you’re feeling stuck or uncertain as to the direction your career is taking, there may be a fresh new way to discover what it is you really want to do with your life. First off, you must give yourself time and permission to work through the process and know that even if it feels you are taking two steps backward for every step forward, no matter what, you are getting closer to where you want to be.
Think about the different components of passion like a formula …
Interest + Engagement = PASSION
Take a second and think about something you are REALLY interested in and something you are ACTIVELY engaged in. Is it a sport or a hobby or something more creative like dance or singing or acting or cooking? For me, I have a true passion for the more creative side of things like dance. Not only did I decide I liked it so much when I finally realized it was up to me to make it happen and I started dancing as an adult student, this rapidly budding passion grew into owning my own dance school and became a true, heart-felt passion for many years. Even though I may not be actively teaching now, dance will always and forever be a passion rooted deeply in my heart because passion never dies.
The same is true for me with it comes to my career as an HR Professional. What makes me passionate about my career - and particularly my current job - is that it fills my career cup by providing me with the opportunity to get to know people and really understand what they need from an HR perspective in their businesses to help move them forward. As an intrinsically-motivated individual (don’t get me wrong, money is really nice too!), it is very rewarding to get feedback from clients about my energy and enthusiasm and passion for what I do.
So now it is your turn to think about things … specifically, what are you both interested in AND engaged in right now? Are you only thinking about it? About making a change but don’t know where to begin? About “what if I was doing what I really wanted to do” would look like in our life? Let’s start there.
… uncovering perspective in your MINDSET
Think of it like someone who really doesn’t like to go shopping goes into a store with the mindset, “There’ll be nothing here I want to buy - nothing will fit or look good on me.” If you apply this same mindset to finding your passion, you’ll always be closed off to the incredible possibilities that are out there. Pay attention to the little signals … they will guide you … especially if you believe it to be possible.
"It’s about attitude … a positive, optimistic attitude and outlook … you reap what you sow and, if you sow positivity you will harvest it in spades."
… get out of your HEAD
Wow, so you’ve caught a glimpse of what is possible and you can now see that finding your passion is a real possibility. It’s time to start doing a deeper dive and take a scan of the “landscape of your life”. When you’re honest with yourself, you will begin to see certain experiences that appear more than others and these experiences trigger your ‘happy’ endorphins. Look deeper into what has made these particular experiences more memorable than others and start to pull out your KDFs - Key Differentiating Factors.
"Your KDFs will show you the path forward toward realizing your passion so pay close attention to what they’re telling you … these are the special ingredients you will need."
… cooking up your KDF RECIPE
When you look at all the ingredients that come together to create your KDF’s, you might be puzzled and confused by how disconnected they seem. Think of it like six degrees of separation … somewhere down the rabbit hole there is a common thread for you to grab a hold of and start to connect the dots. Maybe you’re someone who has a lot of different interests like travelling, Sudoku, romance novels, interior design and cooking. How can you possibly take these diverse ingredients and bring them together to create your dream career? First, take a step back and look at the common threads that link your ingredient lists together … this is your storyline. Examples of your storyline could be: ‘Great Design’, ‘Making Life More Fun’, ‘Adventure Abounds’ and ‘Making the Invisible Visible’. Take a look to see what storylines have shown up in your life, and pay special attention to those you didn’t even realize were there. At this juncture, you should have stopped asking, “What should I do?”, and started asking, “What am I all about?” The good news here is that your life is peppered with clues to the answers you seek.
"While your career success dish is unique and different from everyone else’s, there are some key ingredients in common in these recipes for success."
… to be or not to be a HOBBY
It’s not all about money, but in the world we live in we require a certain standard of living to be comfortable. You may – like I did – absolutely love an activity that completely and 110% engages you … something that lights you up from the inside out, but is it financially viable and sustainable? Now ask yourself, “Who would benefit from my efforts? Who will pay me for this? If I make the leap to this new career and realize I don’t love it anymore or it wasn’t what I expected, then what?” For many of us, passion will always equate to having fun … like travelling, but not many of us can be Rick Steves or The Travel Lady! It is going to be very important to your success to be realistic about whether you can turn your hobby – your passion – into a full-fledged, income earning career and really be clear if making this life change turns your interest from a “love to do” into a “have to do”. You will constantly need to be aware of who would benefit from your newly emerging passion. Have conversations with them. Get clarity on where, when and how you can best serve them and what this will look like in the long run.
"If you want to launch your passion into the world of income generation, you need to be realistic about how to turn your interest – your passion – into a profitable and rewarding career."
… it’s a MUTINY
Never accept mediocrity or settle for, “It’s good enough”. Have the determination and drive to go beyond … to go the extra mile and then make it happen. When you care enough to do more than is required, you quell the mutiny. Seeking your passion can be like heading to war … parts of us like our heart wants to lead the charge while the other parts want to run a hide in the furthest recesses of our brain! We all have fears around not being the best at what we enthusiastically set out to do making us vulnerable to criticism and failure. Pay attention to the nay-sayer voices that tell us over and over again we are foolish to do what we love. Rather than giving these voices life, look at the underlying fear trying to grow roots in your mind and heart – face these barriers to realizing success in your passion head-on.
"Go back to the first step … positivity. If you let the negative voices win, realizing your passion will always remain out of reach. Turn the tides, organize your KDFs and sail your ship with confidence."
… from here to there and ONWARD
While finding your passion and realizing success involves believing in your dreams, it is critically important to remember to not end up being a dreamer instead of a doer. Always have a PASSION for ACTION. You must act on the steps that you have painstakingly planned out … the dots you have now connected through trial and error … don’t just give them lip service because that would be a complete disservice to yourself … that, my friends, is settling. While having a talent – a penchant towards something that makes it easier to accomplish, the path to realizing and living your passion is only as good as the ingredients you put in. Concentrate on your GOALS and the ATTITUDES that can help you ACHIEVE those goals … truly and authentically live your career passion for then it is not work but a commitment to making a difference.
"When you are ready to take the leap, say goodbye to the old and welcome the new with open arms. Take the risk … believe in yourself … challenge your status quo … discover your brave."
In the end, it really is all about choice and the actions we take. If you choose to explore and along the way you find your passion, choose the perspective that you CAN do what you LOVE with your life. Choose to surround yourself with people who are living examples of following their passion. Choose to be inspired by people who are themselves inspired by their work. Continue to ask, “What am I all about?” When you’re in a career you love, it feels a lot like getting paid to be the best version of yourself. The world needs passion, and when you find yours it will always guide you … it may be a bit of a bumpy ride, but now it’s your ride on your terms.
When you KNOW what you’re doing and you ENJOY what you’re doing, nothing can stop you. It may take months or years, it may take a lot of patience, of overcoming challenges, moments of despair and heartbreak, of joy and exhilaration, but what’s meant for you will always be worth the wait because when it comes, you’ll be ready to appreciate every … little … bit … of … it.
Sharon Kolodychuk, BA, CPHR
Thank you to all those who have provided me with a variety of life experiences as inspiration for this blog. I would also like to acknowledge the great insights and perspectives I have gleaned over the years from oprah.com, themuse.com, indeed.com, forbes.com, asha.org, linkedin.com, theentrepreneur.com, work.chron.com, thebalancecareers.com, hrreporter.com and so many more. Make it a good day!