Great Savings 54 – Embrace Your Passion

JB is a couch potato.

JB contemplates getting off the couch.

Do you feel like you are in a constant tug of war where you are the rope and others pull you this way and that? For some, this ebb and flow is just the way life is supposed to be, meaning life just happens to you and you have to take what comes. Yet someone you know is different for the simple reason they know their true passion and continually choose to pursue it with a vengeance. These people don’t let life happen, they make it happen.


Passion. You know the type: Perhaps he or she is a talented artist and who spends all hours of the day honing their craft. To many they would appear consumed by their work, but if you asked them they wouldn’t see it that way. Of course, passion isn’t limited to artists or creative types. Passionate people could be scientists, teachers, social workers, entrepreneurs—in other words they show up most anywhere.


A Job Is Just A Job. Or Is It?


You don't have to be creative or an artist to be passionate about your work.

Lillybean is passionate about painting.

Are you passionate about your work? Think back on your life. How did you get your last job or two? Did you study in the field of your choice and then find a job in that field? Did you get the job all on your own? Did someone you know give you a lead for the job? Did you take the job you have for the money and benefits involved even though it wasn’t a perfect fit or aligned with your interests? There are no right answers here, yet it’s worth noting some people seem to do a better job figuring out what they want to do in life, and then they do a better job going after it.


If you ask most people if they really like their current job they may tell you something like “at least it pays the bills.” This means they do it more as a matter of financial survival or necessity than because it gives them any real joy. Should we expect a job to give us joy? Apparently, some are lucky enough to work in the “perfect” profession, but by no means is this a given. Still those that are most passionate about their work don’t even see their jobs as jobs. They’re too busy enjoying their lives.


How do you know if you’re passionate about your work? One good indication is whether you always end up watching the clock. If you can’t wait for the day to be over or time seems to pass by at a crawl, chances are you are ignoring that side of you that has the potential to be passionate. However, even a sometimes dull job can have its better moments. Have you ever had a project at work that really consumed you? If you did you lost track of time. It didn’t matter how long the work day was supposed to be.


Do more of the things you like.

You may not know your passion, but you do know when you’ve done things your find interesting or challenging. If you are searching for your passion, start with these.

When we care less about or can even ignore time, it’s a reflection that the work we are doing is enjoyable and challenging. It may not be our one true passion, but there may be elements of the work that give us a sense of doing something worthwhile. I refer to this phenomenon as “when time goes away.” When time goes away can occur in or outside of work. For example, have you ever picked up a good book and got so absorbed in it, you didn’t want to put it down? Time went away for awhile, didn’t it? To me, there is something special that occurs when I can step outside of time in this manner. It’s freeing.


Wouldn’t it be great to be passionate about something you do and figure out how to turn that passion into a well paying job or business? Of course, it would. Unfortunately, for most of us life doesn’t seem to come in such an easy to define package. Ours is a world often more driven by money and what money can do for us than by the things we’re really passionate about. Furthermore, many of us face significant family or cultural pressures to “be a doctor” or a “lawyer” or find some other high paying profession, irregardless of whether the work involved appeals to us on some inner level. Sadly, with all this pressure to be something we’re not our true passion becomes a deeply buried mystery.


From a strict monetary standpoint, is the best long-term financial plan to find a well paying profession and stick to it like glue—whether you are passionate about it or not? Some would no doubt argue the money you make and the financial security you get from it is all that really matters. It’s hard to argue with paying the rent and having the groceries you need to feed your family. At the same time, I’ve met passionate people who are very happy even though most would consider them financially poor. To me, this begs the question whether money is really so important or the only factor to consider as we work our way through life.


Great Savings 54 - Embrace Your Passion.The issue of discovering your passion and pursing it is all about improving the quality of life. Does this require you quit your job if you know you’re doing something you don’t really like? No. However, it does leave room for trying to find and develop your passion outside of work and pursuing it until you can turn it into a job or profession that moves you.


As you go to retire, will your memories be of a dull job and unfulfilled dreams? Will you even know what your true passion is or have a sense you embraced the potential of everything life has to offer? Will the money you have be worth more than the experiences you wish had been yours? If nothing else, take the time to figure out what motivates you. For some, financial security might outweigh finding a career more suited to their core needs and values, but for others embracing their passion could be the very thing to turn a dull, boring or even depressing job into a new and vibrant one.  Is life only about money? Does a job have to be boring? Take the time to figure it out what makes you sing before time slips away and it’s too late to do anything about it.


Lillybean wants to do more with her love of cooking.

No matter what you like to do, find ways you can build on it.

Action Item: Spend some time reflecting on your work and the things you enjoy outside of work and see if you can come up with the thing or things that make you most passionate. If you have trouble, make a list of any projects or experiences you have recently experienced where “time went away”. Now, try to figure out how you might have more of these experiences. For example, if a recent project at work gave you that feeling, then ask your boss to keep you in mind for other projects like it. Or say, you have always enjoyed cooking. Now, find a way to do more of it or do it better. You might take a cooking class. You might invite people over to sample your food and give feedback. You might consider catering a friend’s wedding. You might put together a book of recipes. Whatever you come up with, find out ways to include the activity in your current life and keep honing your skills until you can take it too the next level. Who can say where it will lead?



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