How many people do you know want a job they can't stand? Probably not many. And yet research indicates that as many as eighty-seven percent of Americans don't like their job. This disparity continues to amaze me. In the land of the American Dream, people continue to work in jobs for which they have little interest or passion.
In their book Do What You Are, Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger describe the components of an "Ideal Job." They state that "the right job enhances your life. It is personally fulfilling because it nourishes the most important aspects of your personality."
If the research numbers are anywhere near accurate, chances are that you would rather spend your workday doing something different from what you do right now. Because unsatisfying jobs can lead to perennial job hopping, stress, anxiety, poor physical health, and myriad other problems, it may help to clearly identify your passion.
According to Tieger and Barron-Tieger, if you're working in a job you're passionate about, you:
- look forward to going to work
- feel energized by what you do
- feel your contribution is respected and appreciated
- feel proud when describing your work to others
- enjoy and respect the people you work with
- feel optimistic about your future
Life is too short to spend eight hours a day doing something you don't care about. Besides, imagine the ripple effects to your personal life if you're able to spend the day working in your area of passion.
Cool things can happen when people are passionate about what they do. For example, Allen Wong, chairmain of VTech, is passionate about helping people. In an interview this past week on CNN, Wong said "You have to want to make a difference in people's lives. Making money is a by-product, not a sole purpose."
As a result of Wong's passion to make a difference in people's lives, VTech has developed two very different, distinct branches of business; cordless telephone systems, and a line of children's toys.
While on the surface it may appear that VTech is a divided company, in reality Wong's passion has created two successful business lines that make a difference in people's lives.
Passion keeps people going in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. On the very day the Allen Wong interview aired on CNN, a man named Shaho Qadar ran 42 kilometers to finish the Amsterdam Marathon. By itself, that may seem like a rather common occurrence. But Qadar, a Kurdish athlete and gymnast, was in the wrong place in 1988 when the Iraqi regime bombed his Southern Kurdistan village, and now he's missing both of his legs. He ran the marathon on prosthetic limbs.
That is, all except the last 100 meters. With the passionate heart of a true athlete, Qadar took off his prosthetics at that point and completed the marathon walking on his hands.
In every corner of the world people find fulfillment in their area of passion. If you're still looking for an answer to the question "what do you want to be when you grow up," it's probably time to identify your own passion.
If you know the answer to that question but you're not yet living it, it may be time to consider how living it might be possible.
Author Richard Chang has written two good books on the subject; The Passion Plan and The Passion Plan at Work. You may want to look into them.
You might also consider taking an inventory of where you are and compare it against where you want to be. Take a look at your time. Are you wasting it in front of the television, or are you doing things that will move you in the direction of your dreams?
Take a look at your friends. A truism I was fortunate enough to learn early on is that you become like those people you associate with. You get to choose your friends, so what kind of friendship choices are you making? Do the people you spend time with have the kind of traits you want to have?
Also, find your way around life's barriers. When you identify your passion, you have a reason to move. What slows people down is not lack of motivation, but the presence of obstacles. Do you let the mere sight of an obstacle stop you, or do you actively seek ways around it?
Bottom line, we don't have to stay stuck working in jobs we don't care about. Work in your area of passion! You'll get to be who you really are, live a more fulfilling life, and actually enjoy what you do eight hours a day. I don't know of too many people who would turn that down.
It really doesn't matter where you are in life. The only person holding you back from laying out your plans is you.