Everyone has that thing they love almost more than anything else. Whether it’s a particular sport, an artistic pursuit or simply an outlet that allows you to be your best self, you have an interest that’s so strong, you wish it could be entwined with your job. Well, who says it can’t be?
In a dynamic society with unprecedented opportunities, you don’t have to put your passion on the backburner. Instead, you can find a job that complements or nurtures your passion. Keep reading to find out the benefits of having a job you’re passionate about, how to find that opportunity, and how to remain passionate about it as your career progresses.
It seems as if the word “passion” has become an advertising tool every entrepreneur on LinkedIn or YouTube uses as a buzzword, but there is real meaning behind it. For our purposes, the Merriam-Webster definition of passion fits best: “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.” But passion is more than just a textbook definition.
Passion is a driving force inside you that pushes you toward something. It’s an internal fire needing maintenance. It can either be fanned or left to putter out, and your career can be a key decider. A career that wastes your energy doesn’t allow you to embrace your passion, but a career that is intertwined with your passion lets you be the best version of yourself.
Finding a job you’re passionate about has obvious benefits, both on a day-to-day basis and overall. Imagine you have to be at work at 5 a.m., in which, to get ready and allocate for a long commute, you have to wake up two hours earlier to arrive on time. If you’re passionate about your job, waking up at 3 a.m. is much more palatable. Even without extreme circumstances like these, your daily work life is eased when the culture and work itself are rooted in subjects you care about. You can connect better with your co-workers and superiors, and you are more invested in your day-to-day tasks.
On a more general level, having a career that invokes and nurtures your passion almost guarantees long-term success. If you’re passionate about your job, you’ll be motivated to engage in the work day in and day out. You’ll find even the more mundane tasks interesting, and you’ll be less likely to be blinded by any possible downsides. Your enthusiasm may even rub off on those around you and your employer will see you as an asset not only for your skills but your attitude. In fact, your dedicated approach could even lead to a raise or a promotion. In that sense, being passionate about your job can bring success in terms of job security and stability with a respectable income.
A career you’re passionate about would be a great thing, but how do you find the right job for your interests? Though there is no one way to match your role with your passion, here are some strategies to narrow down your search.
Obviously, the best-case scenario is finding an industry that fits well with your main interest. For example, there are jobs for music lovers and jobs for people with history degrees. If you can’t find something that lines up perfectly with your passion, don’t worry; not all is lost. You don’t need to work in a position that directly aligns with your interest, but you should still channel that interest in some way. For instance, if you work in real estate but have a passion for photography, you can leverage this interest by taking photos of properties. That way, you’re still incorporating your passion into your role, even though your job isn’t part of the traditional photography industry.
“To truly reach your potential, you need to identify your passions and talents and create ways to utilize them each day,” said Heather Monahan, founder of #BossinHeels, a career mentoring group.
You may find a job that appeals to you, thinking it will help aid your passion, but you may not know how it will actually play out in practice or even how to get started. Fortunately, there are some ways to test the waters so you can get a taste of what may lie ahead.
Internships or externships can help kick-start your desired career. If this isn’t a realistic option for the stage you’re in, you can look into temporary jobs or an apprenticeship, which can also help greatly. Being able to “shadow” someone who works in the field you’re interested in gives you an inside view of how your passion can come alive at work. Even doing volunteer work could give you some job insight.
You can do all the research yourself to figure out what career is best for your passion, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help. There are plenty of ways to get assistance from different people or services that can give you a new perspective as you search for the ideal job. For example, you can reach out to a career coach or counselor who can assess your situation and recommend different paths to take. Objective online assessments can also point you in the right direction.
You won’t find a job you’re passionate about if you don’t make your job search a priority. Don’t let common excuses, like a lack of time, hold you back. If you’re truly invested in finding a job that meshes with your passion, don’t let yourself get sidetracked. Without this commitment, you’ll be unsuccessful in your quest.
“I found that the simple step of taking action helps,” said Monahan. “Doing something, no matter how small, each day to take you closer to your goal will allow you to see progress.”
This may mean choosing to wake up an hour earlier than usual for extra time browsing online job boards or working on a project for your CV instead of binging Netflix shows in your free time. No one will force you to do these things, however. It’s up to you. Hold yourself accountable for pursuing your dreams, no matter how busy you might be.
“Writing your goals down and having them handy to see as a reminder also helps,” Monahan added. “I like to give myself deadlines and track my progress against them each week.”
Finding a job you’re passionate about is one thing. The real challenge may be sustaining that level of interest over time. Ideally, working a job you feel passionate about is enough to keep you going, but we’re human beings. At times, even something we love is going to lose its luster. Here are some techniques to stay motivated and excited about your job.
The more you talk about something, the more real it becomes. Speak about your goals as often as possible, with as many people as you can, to keep your interest level high.
“The more people you bring into the fold to share your goals with, the more people you have asking you about your progress and updates, which keeps you on track,” said Monahan.
Stay inspired by voicing your ambitions to a family member, a mentor or someone who has embarked on a similar endeavor. Monahan said she shares her goals with her son to help her commit to those objectives. When she feels like quitting, she thinks about what type of example that would set for him and continues to push forward.
If you aren’t feeling satisfied with your work, speak to your manager and ask if you can be involved in projects geared more toward your talents. By leveraging your skills and interests in the workplace, you will not only perform better but also feel more motivated, confident and inspired. If you’re still unhappy, don’t hesitate to make a change. You’re never trapped, and no matter how long you have been in a position, there is always a way to have a smooth transition to a new opportunity. [Check out strategies for making a midlife career change.]
One of the biggest misconceptions is that comfort is the key to happiness. But if you become too comfortable in your role, that fiery passion you once had may start to dull. If you commit to continually learning new facets of your industry and explore ways your profession is changing, you can get a benefit besides being better at your job – you can remember why you fell in love with this passion in the first place and rekindle the flame. Those with a hunger to always learn more won’t see their passion fade away.
The company you keep is critical. Hanging around people equally passionate about the same career as you or very passionate about their unique journey can be a great influence. If you see people around you investing time in their work and talking positively about all the cool and interesting things they’re doing, you’ll be motivated to do the same. Conversations with like-minded people can remind you why you started on this path in the first place and reinvigorate the drive that powered you in the beginning.
It’s of course possible to be successful in a job you aren’t passionate about. People can excel at all sorts of things even if they have no genuine interest in them and don’t like the tasks much at all. But will you be happy? The odds are you won’t. That’s why finding a job you’re passionate about is so important.
You can take what makes you happy in your personal life and incorporate it into your career for a fulfilling professional life that suits your interests. Hold tight to your passions throughout your career, keeping the two entwined for a work experience that isn’t just successful but also rewarding.
Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.