In today’s episode, Anna delves into the topic of aligning passion with your career, in the first of a series of episodes inspired by the month of love! She addresses the question of whether or not we should align our passion with our career, providing insightful perspectives on the potential pitfalls and benefits. Anna explores the importance of understanding our interests, values, and strengths to assess how our current job aligns with our passions. She offers practical advice on identifying career gaps, making meaningful pivots, and overcoming common obstacles. Join Anna as she navigates the journey of finding your professional love match, and stay tuned for next week’s episode on networking with heart.
00:00 Find joy in work for greater success.
05:12 Questions to discover values and priorities.
07:36 Reflect on job, pivot within or without.
10:13 Take action, challenge yourself, create meaningful life.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
1:1 Coaching & Mentoring – If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring. onestepoutside.com/coaching
Aligning Passion with Career
It is February. It is the month of Valentine’s Day, the month of love. And I thought I’d take inspiration from this theme for the podcast this month. And so we start today with finding your professional love match. And no, I’m not talking about dating in the office. Not to be encouraged, although of course it happens, but rather aligning your passion with your career. And the first question I want to ask is, should we even do this? Should we align our passion with our career? And to me the answer seems pretty obvious. But I’m sure there are, and I know there are people who would argue that perhaps we shouldn’t.
I think there are examples of people loving photography and then trying to turn that into a business, and then the grind of having to earn money by selling pictures and doing a style of photography that perhaps isn’t aligned with your creative vision because that’s more commercially viable and so on. And that makes you fall out of love with your passion. And that’s certainly true possible. And that is a bit of a pitfall. So I’m not necessarily saying take your hobies and make money out of them, because some things actually are creative endeavours that you want to keep as a joyful experience and not monetize. I haven’t about in a while, but I used to do a lot of amateur theatre. And yes, when I was very young and naive, I probably dreamed of being actress. But I don’t think that would have been the right decision.
And I certainly don’t want to be a professional actress. No. Well, do I want to be? I don’t know, maybe that’ll be the next career. But I haven’t been working towards that goal. I really enjoyed doing acting in my spare time, quite a pretty professional level within that amateur scene. And now I channel my acting passion into speaking to you on podcasts or presenting on stage, or running workshops, or doing videos and so on. So I’m not necessarily saying turn your hobies into jobs. Just to be clear.
Aside from that caveat, though, there are so many amazing implications that follow from aligning your work with what you really love, doing your passions. You may have seen the pithy instagram meme that says something like, if you do work you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And while that’s a little bit idealistic, I think there’s an element of truth to it, and it’s certainly more enjoyable to do work that you like doing. And I think beyond that, beyond the sort of, oh, I want to enjoy my work, the very selfish perhaps desire to do work that I like doing. I think that will mean that I’m doing a much better job which will have positive consequences for my employer, for my colleagues, for my customers and for society as a whole. If I’m just clocking in and out, couldn’t care less, just counting the minutes until I go home. Let’s face that I’m not going to be particularly successful, have much of a future in that organisation and certainly I’m not going to enjoy the work and I’m not going to be delivering great results for my organisation. Funny enough, my brother in law told me of some interviews he’s been doing recently where one candidate in fact, who had been accepted and hired, sent in his timesheet at the end of the week, I think it was via an agency.
And my brother in law was like, sure, I’ll pay it, but I haven’t seen your results yet. I guess quite young, let’s face it. New hire came back to say, oh, sorry, no, I don’t want to be in a job where I have to actually get results. I paraphrase slightly, he just wanted a job where he could work from home, tick the boxes, do the hours and that was it. Which I’m not sure if that was ever going to be a particularly sustainable strategy. I’m usually on the side of young employees and the fact that we should align our work with passions and have work life flexibility and so on, but I think that’s taking a bit too far if we think that we don’t have to deliver in our work as well. So no, I’m afraid we do need to still get results and I think we’ll get better results. If we love what we do, it means that we have greater job satisfaction ourselves, which is good for everybody.
We’ll be more motivated, that will have positive reverberations for everything else, our well being, our relationships and all sorts. Now, having said that, if we today are completely dispassionate and hate everything we do, perhaps we can’t pivot from one day to the next. And we do need to consider realistic things like market demand, economic climate, financial stability and our own personal financial situation. So again, I’m not saying quit your job and start an etsy business today, to be clear, but I do think it’s important that we align our career with our passions. Now, of course the next question is, okay, what are you passionate about? And it might seem like a really simple question, but in fact it’s not as straightforward as we might think. And sadly, I think a lot of us lose sight of what we’re passionate about. So start with looking at your interests, your hobbies, where you spend your time, if you do have hobies still, because I know it’s hard as a parent and as a busy professional to make time for these things. So look back over your entire career.
What did you study at school? What did you do there? What have you done in your spare time? Where have you travelled to? What have you done? I have all sorts of questions that I’ve asked clients in the past as to if you were to take a year off, how would you spend it? If you were to go to a conference, what would it be on? What podcasts would you listen to? What books do you read? How would you spend your weekend or your day, your evening, if you could use it exactly as you wanted, to have complete freedom as to how you spend your time. And some of those probing questions can really get to the bottom of what you’re interested in, what you really want to spend your time doing, then your values. I talk a lot about your values on this podcast. Having that North Star, whether it be something like freedom, learning or excellence, growth, performance, service, you know, these nuances are really, really important. Understanding what will be an aligned career path for us, an aligned role, aligned company and so on. A misalignment between company values and your own is really damaging. Again, I think both to the company and to you, and neither of you deserves that. So it’s important to know what your values are in order to see that mismatch.
And then always knowing your strengths is really valuable. Right. And it’s not about those hard skills necessarily, that you have on your cv, but rather the softer skills as well as your personality strengths. What is it that you do that’s sort of uniquely amazing that people come to you for? Again, the intersection between the things that you are good at and that you love doing, I think, is very big because we get into that zone of genius. We just love doing it. We don’t even notice that we’re working on it because it just feels natural. It doesn’t even feel like work in that sense because we love it and we’re really good at it. Now, it’ll still be challenging and we’ll still want to continue to challenge ourselves, but I think that overlap is really powerful.
Okay, so we’ve looked at who we are, what our strengths are, our values and our interests. Now we want to assess where we are today. So how much does your current job align with your passions? And maybe it’s like, you know what? Actually it’s pretty much there. Maybe it’s not ideal, but there’s amazing work life balance and your boss is really nice and you have a good pay and it just works for you right now. That’s also fine, by the way. But really think about what are the aspects of your work that are most fulfilling and what are those that are not so. Not just black and white. Yep.
Love my job. No, hate my job. There’s really so many nuances between those two, right. And really trying to get down into the granularity of what are the aspects that you want to keep and what are the aspects, perhaps that either want to delegate or outsource or delete altogether in your next role or your next pivot. And then once you’ve sort of assessed where you are today, you can consider, okay, where are the gaps? Are there opportunities within the organisation, within your current role, even to take on projects and so on within the organisation to pivot into a different function? Perhaps it’s about going to the next level of management, because that will allow you to level up in a different way, create other opportunities. Maybe you want an international assignment, whatever that is. Right. But really thinking about how those passions could translate into different projects on a smaller scale within your current role and business and organisation, and also possibly into a different career path.
Perhaps if you are full time at work, you want to consider starting a business for a side hustle or freelancing. Maybe you want to pivot into a different industry to be closer to your passions in the area of the environment and sustainability and so on. Maybe you want to work in a smaller company. There are all sorts of changes you might consider. And then again, we tend to think in this kind of dichotomy, extremes of one thing. Either I’m over here in this role, in this company, feeling this way, or I’m way over there and it’s a completely different experience. The truth is that there are little steps we can take to shift our mindset, to come with a renewed energy and to realign the current work we’re doing and become more passionate about it. So it doesn’t have to mean changing something.
And often it won’t be about changing career or even organisation. Right? Maybe you’ve just been through a tough time, either personally or with a boss or whatever it is, or just an economic climate and so on. So really think about, by the way, again, coming back to where you are today. If you are burned out, then you know what? You need to be compassionate about yourself. You need rest. So forget about passion and so on for now. You just want to take care of yourself so you’re feeling better and you’re in a better place mentally and physically to move forwards. If you are feeling bored, maybe you’re too much in your complacency zone that I’ve talked about before, possibly your comfort zone, but really you just need to do something.
Take action, challenge yourself, do something that will get you out of that kind of rut, right? So if you’re feeling bored, take action, do something exciting. If you are busy, busy, busy all the time, which I think is most people I speak to in corporate, then you need to create more space to reflect on these things. Take a step back, ask yourself what are the really important things that matter again? Your values, your interests and how can you create more space for that? How can you focus more on those things? You’re probably very accomplished and this is the whole concept of the whole podcast here, that you’ve achieved this pretty impressive level of success. Prestigious organisations and job titles and credibility and so on, qualifications. But perhaps there is something missing, especially when we get a bit older. We begin to think, is this really the legacy I want to leave? Can I bring more meaning? Can I align this with who I am today? Which is possibly different to who we were when we started our career? And then if you start feeling more aligned, then of course it’ll be a matter of figuring out how you can continue on that path, how you can keep moving towards this new vision, perhaps that you have increasing those elements of passion, aspects of passion, the way you think about things and reinvigorating your career and business with excitement and passion. And then hopefully you can celebrate that progress. And within not so long a time frame you can look back and see how far you’ve come.
Of course there are things that will get in the way. Busyness, I think is the biggest one. Fears of both success and failure. We’ve talked about fear, of course, of financial insecurity and uncertainty and looking foolish and going for something and it doesn’t work out and so on. So really take those small steps. You don’t have to commit to anything. You can try a bit of a volunteering element or ask for a mentor, maybe do a little course. Don’t sign up to like a five year programme, but just something little to see if this really is something you’d like to pursue.
And as a first step, I’d like to give one step for you to take. Why don’t you do a bit of inventory of your passions, your skills, your strengths, just understanding who are you? What’s your expertise? What’s your experience? And that will really help you to start to see the patterns, see the gaps, and of course, set the stage for meaningful career pivots or evolutions in the future. So, yes, we should align our career with our passions. No, it might not happen right away, and no, it won’t be a world of unicorns and rainbows. But I certainly think that the advantages of this to you, to your employer, to society, far outweigh the negative arguments you can in any way posit towards aligning your passion with your career. So, wishing you that you will find your professional love match. And I’ll see you next week when we’ll be talking about networking with heart. I’ll see you then.
WORK WITH ANNA
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1:1 Coaching & Mentoring
If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring. onestepoutside.com/coaching
1:1 Coaching & Mentoring
If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring.