Balancing Purpose, Passion, and Career

When it comes to a career, it is not what you know that counts, it is who you know. Having the right qualifications and skillsets is important in landing a job, certainly knowing the right people will get you there faster. But is it a job you really want or is it a career that you are passionate about?

You would think that a successful career and loving family is a recipe for success however even those who have this sometimes feel like something is missing. Even when working in a career you are passionate about, that something missing is often having a greater purpose in life. 

To Be Engaged or Disengaged – That is the Question

Throughout the United States, there is an epidemic of people who are disengaged and disenfranchised from the work they do. Gallup reports that since the disruption of the coronavirus, the percentage of workers who have miserable work experiences which ultimately spreads to their colleagues sits around 14% and the percentage of those who are highly engaged 31% from earlier this year. That means roughly 69% of employees aren’t engaged and are looking for a new job or watching out for a new opportunity.

According to Forbes, there is a strong correlation between an engaged employee and a happy customer which ultimately drives growth. If engaged employees drive growth, then why is it that so many employees are disengaged and are looking for a new job or opportunity? Is it perhaps because they haven’t found their purpose and matched this with a career?

When employees feel they have limited growth opportunities, feel no connection to their work, and experience a lack of purpose, this leaves them low on energy, discouraged, apathetic, causing them to disengage. When feeling like this, their brain chemistry leaves them low in dopamine which is associated with a lack of focus at work, underperformance, low motivation all of which can lead to depression.

When you are at work, what is it you see and feel? If you are feeling the pressure of delivering on the bottom line, attending back to back meetings that should have been an email or information overload, this leads to resistance of change, absenteeism, less collaboration, and in some cases, sabotage, all because people hate the job they are in.  

Do You Really Know What You Want?

As young people go through elementary and high school, there is an expectation that they know what they want to study at college. In order to pursue the major of choice, they must choose subjects throughout high school aligned with what they want to study in college. The interesting thing is, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80% of undergraduate students change their major at least once, and on average change their major up to three times throughout their college years. 

Many students pick a major based on one that their parents have chosen for them without realizing that if the student ends up changing majors it can cause them to take longer to graduate. The downside, of course, is the guilt they feel when they confront their loved ones about a change in direction when they change their major.

Assessing a Change in Career

Just because your parents or a college professor tells you that you would make a great doctor, lawyer, or engineer, it doesn’t mean you should listen. You will never find satisfaction if you live someone else’s dream proving to them that they were right. It’s critical to put your own needs and career aspirations first and ensure you are motivated for the right reasons.

The struggle comes when you end up pushing yourself to go to work every day because you need to earn a living and pay back those student loans. You end up finding yourself less interested in your job because you don’t have any passion for it. Therefore it’s important when you find yourself at the precipice of a career-changing decision, that you find your purpose in life that also balances your passion.

Finding Your Purpose

Finding your purpose may seem like a cliche or a dream that will never ever be fulfilled, yet for those who have, they began to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilled life.

If finding a job that pays the most isn’t fulfilling, then perhaps you haven’t found your purpose in life. The meaning of finding your purpose is different for everyone however it starts with self-reflection and self-awareness. If you don’t have an understanding of what is important to you, then chances are you won’t balance purpose, passion, and career.

Studies have shown that while money may be an initial goal in pursuing a career, it becomes less important the longer you stay in the job. Workplace happiness is based on more than just making money,  most people want something that provides an opportunity to speak to the greater purpose and ambition within

Finding a career while living your purpose does not necessarily mean sacrificing a high paying job, you can have it both ways – you don’t have to choose between wealth and finding a career filled with purpose.

Discovering Your Passion

Before quitting your day job, it is important to find out what you really enjoy doing, something that you are naturally good at, and have a natural feeling to excel at. 

There is a difference between a hobby and a passion and just because you like art doesn’t mean you should venture into the art world and start-up an art gallery. Just because you like selling online doesn’t mean you should venture into website design and create an online store or suddenly launch into a career in digital marketing. You need to balance your passion and your skill sets keeping your options open and explore if your passion is more than just a hobby.

Gaining Experience In The Field Of Your Passion

Once you discover your passion is more than a hobby, it is wise to gain experience in that field to discover if this will become your purpose in life. It may be you need to invest in further education and learn some basic skills before committing to a change in career. You can test the waters by watching videos of what it would be like to experience your new-found passion to see if a change in careers still excites you. Perhaps focus some time by taking a few part-time classes before calling it quits on your current career.

Donate Time, Talent Or Money

If there is one habit that will allow you to find a career with purpose, and that is to help others first. Whether it is volunteering for a non-profit, donating your time, talents, or money, doing something for others this will give your life meaning. Sharing yourself with others is a way to explore your passions in life which ultimately will help identify your purpose.

By bringing your skills, talents, and passion to the table by giving back to others, you begin to discover what it is you really love to do. Keep in mind that through the years, your passions and interests might change. What you were passionate about as a teenager and young adult might change as you mature. As society changes, so will you which means your purpose is not static, it will evolve over time.

Plan For Success

Unlike the decisions, you had to make before and during college, if you are currently working and have a steady income, you can take your time to plan the transition. You must factor in the steps you need to take to actualize your new career including time, money, and training. There will be lots of doubt and uncertainly and others will try to discourage you from taking the leap, however the more you plan, the better the chances of success. This includes having the ability to handle any negativity and doubt that might creep into your thoughts.

Before venturing into a  career change, consider you may lose some of the benefits you are currently accustomed to means you must also weigh up these factors with finding your purpose and turning it into a career.

Visualizing Success

It is not enough to follow your passion, a huge part of succeeding in changing your career is visualizing success. Imagining yourself succeeding in a new career filled with purpose is what will motivate you to push harder to succeed. You must possess a real passion for pursuing a new career with purpose.

Purpose Beats Passion

A study from Harvard Business School Professor Jon Jachimowicz suggests that you should focus on less than what you are passionate about and more about what you care about. The reason people focus on passion rather than what they care about is that it is usually associated with what’s easy and fun. There is a subtle difference between focussing on what you care about and purely something you are passionate about. Passion wanes over time so if you focus on this alone, you are unlikely to stick with a career that doesn’t have meaning.

Keep in mind that many employees leave managers not companies. It is all very well to find your purpose and turn it into a career, be mindful of the companies you want to work for. Carefully examine their values and your own values, if they aren’t aligned, you may experience the same issues in the workplace you experienced before. If you are at a point in your career and contemplating a change of direction, it wise to work with career professionals and job sites offering resources who can help you not only find your purpose, they can help you find a career with purpose. Finding your purpose has the power to guide you to a career doing something that you really care about.

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