I was giving a presentation last week in Riga Business School in alliance with University at Buffalo, The State University of New York on how to succeed in your career. One of the core messages in my presentation, which is something I strongly believe in, was – find your passion and do something that you are truly passionate about, or don’t do it at all. That statement massively resonated in the audience of entrepreneurs, business leaders and senior professionals in the room.
My 20+ years in business and career experience gives evidence that when you do the job that you are truly and naturally passionate about and you have the opportunity to apply your talents to add value for others, then you are energized, inspired, well appreciated and recognized as a professional in the team and overall in the business. If you do something that you are capable of and technically can do well, but have no passion for that job or the results or team or culture in the company – you do not have that sparkle in your eyes that people highly value and your impact to the results and delivery is much lower. You also do not receive the appreciation and recognition from people around you since – you are just doing your job.
It works like a snow ball effect – the more passionate you are, the more eager you are to do the job with excellence, putting into it your heart and mind and being personally excellent at it. More people will recognize that and see how you add value – more projects and opportunities come your way as people notice that you are great at what you do. As more opportunities come your way to do the job that you are really passionate about, the more your inspiration, contribution, added value and appreciation grows. And then will come the time when someone comes to you and says: ”Would you like to take that dream job?” Literally. Evidently. Confidently. Because you are great at doing that kind of job and people have noticed your results, your drive and your passion.
When I reflect back on every job that I have been doing in my career – I have succeeded most in the jobs where I was truly passionate about what I do or the purpose and content of the job let me apply my talents. Or – when I shaped the purpose and content of the job to fit that well.
It is also been proven in the scientific research that when you do the job that you are passionate about, you are a more happy person and your soul and body reflects that – you are a more positive, solutions focused, impactful, healthy person. If you are not happy or do not enjoy the job that you are doing – your soul and body instantly reflects that through your behaviour, attitude and health.
But what to do if you do not know what is your passion?
I have been asked this question frequently in the personal brand development workshops that I am facilitating with the companies to help professionals to be more personally excellent, better collaborate in the teams to implement the strategy and succeed in their careers. Also – in individual coaching sessions this question comes up time after time. And with no surprise – I was asked this question a few times last week in the presentation in Riga Business School.
There are several ways how to discover your passion. There is no one way that would suite everybody. I will share with you 3 most common approaches on how to discover your passion:
1. Sometimes you find your passion through challenges that you experience in life or at work
Sometimes the challenges that you experience in your life or career helps you to discover your real passion. At the beginning it feels really hard to experience and go through all these challenges, but when you have travelled that challenging journey and have found your solution or victory over the challenges, you learn something new about yourself, you discover a different angle of your personality or capabilities. And – if you have resolved that challenging situation or period in your life for yourself, you become passionate to help others and share with others the tools and strategies that you have applied to resolve. Or the mindset techniques that you have learned along the journey. Or mistakes you have made and how others could skip them.
I will share with you a situation with one of my colleagues. Bear with me – I will cut the story as short as possible to bring the essence to life:
I had a colleague that experienced a very challenging period in her life and work. If you think your life is difficult sometimes, believe me – she had one terrible situation after another all year long. She has been a hard worker all her life – really dedicated, driven, committed to do her job with excellence. Once from some really tough emotional situation at work and a terrible accident in her wider family at the same time, her mind and body could not handle it any more and she had a really bad stroke, which took the majority of the year to recover.
Having partly recovered and being totally committed and dedicated to work, she returned to work and worked a lot and hard, while the doctors did not want to let her come back to work yet and her body had not recovered yet fully from the stroke. During that period, on the way to the office she got in a car accident which damaged her back and again – it took massive amount of time and pain to recover. There were a few other really difficult situations in her work and private life. On the recovery journey the doctor and medical specialists recommended her to take better control of her emotional state, let go of the experienced emotions and bring in work life balance and mindfulness into her life.
Now she has fully recovered. She has let go the emotions that were upsetting her. She is a stronger, much happier and more impactful person. She has pulled together a workshop to help other colleagues to feel more confident to have wellbeing in their work life. She has even been nominated for the annual recognition awards in the company as “People Who Make a Difference”.
She is now passionate in helping others to ensure balance in their life and to be more effective while more congruent with themselves and work. She has been through really difficult times, but has since recovered and is now truly passionate to help others not to get where she was. She is now a hugely energized, passionate, and happy person. And people around her recognize and appreciate that. And she gets the opportunities to do more of what she is passionate about. As she is great at it. And adds massive value for others. And now the HQ have established a new job role: Wellbeing Business Partner, as there is a business need to implement wellbeing strategies and tools across the business.
2. Explore your past likes and dislikes to discover useful insights
One of the techniques that helps to discover your passion is – exploring your past. Exploring what did you like doing in your past roles, or at school or in your free time or in your childhood. And how can you now translate it to the current business world to add value. As an example – I liked observing people, exploring what are their aspirations, what they want to achieve and what do they need to change or tailor slightly to be more successful.
Hence, I studied psychology and worked in human resources leadership and a few years ago I tailored that “like” in my passion for personal brand development coaching. The core is the same, it’s just a different way on how to implement it. Now I am coaching ambitious and dedicated professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs to unlock their highest aspirations, think bigger, get crystal clear clarity and success strategies to achieve their ambitions and sky rocket their career quicker, smarter and bolder.
I never liked to be told what to do or to fit in the particular process or system. Hence, I am more passionate about a job that involves creativity, that needs to come up with solutions, resolve challenges and widen wider horizons to think bigger and act bolder.
3. Some people just need to keep trying out different things
What to do if you think you have discovered your passion, but after a while you are not sure and want to do something different? Well, some people just need to keep exploring and trying out different things. The well known writer Elisabeth Gilbert once said in her speech that maybe you are a hummingbird and have a curiosity driven life – you just need to keep exploring and trying out something new. We need these kind of people in our life who are great example of courageous moves – starting something new and different in their life, making that bold decision to change and start again. To not keep doing something that you actually are no longer passionate about.
Take one of my sisters for example – she is now studying to become an expert in her fourth different professional area. She has changed her interests from having completed professional cookery school and being a really great cook to obtaining an international tourism management degree in university and working in the hospitality and tourism industry to being a massage therapist and now for the next two years she is dedicated to study towards being a professional facial beauty expert – a completely different area from all before that involves medical studies, chemistry, physics and other subjects she did not study before.
For some people reading this, it might feel slightly confusing or indecisive, but I am proud of her that she does not settle with the job that she is not passionate about.
My recommendation is – keep exploring to find your passion and do something that you are truly passionate about. Or don’t do it at all. When you follow your passion, people notice your drive, inspiration and energy and added value, and will offer you to do more of it. Because you are great at it.