The One Thing About Passion

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Several years ago, I was in the audience of the motivational speaker, Hilary Wilson, where she challenged us to ask ourselves regarding work, "What am I doing when I feel most alive?" At the time I was considering the direction of my career, and to me, this question was all about passion.

When it comes to deciding about whether to change career, we are often led by a desire to find something we are passionate about or we tell ourselves we must follow our passions and then we will be happy. The premise of this being that passion is something external which exerts a strong positive emotion in us.  But the one thing about passion is that it is internal, triggered by an external factor; therefore, it is not something to be found. It is like a flame, that perpetually burns within us and when we are doing something we enjoy, it is like adding fuel to the fire and it burns with intensity and energy.

In using passion to help direct your future career, you must understand yourself and what you are looking for in a role, as well as identifying what you don't want. You might not know exactly what you love, but you certainly know what you hate, use this to help direct where your attention goes. If you want to explore this further, you can download the Career Clarity worksheet below to help you gain a greater understanding.

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This might come as a surprise to you but, it is very rare for someone to have clarity regarding one thing that they are passionate about. Many of us don't. And this is ok because what it means is that rather than just having one passion, we have a few across the different areas of our lives. Often we sit wracking our brains trying to find this so called passion and, when we think we know what it is, and have a vision of a dream career, the reality is that is all it is, a dream and because you have not tried anything out, the realities are often far different from what you expect it to be. You only see all the positives, the best bits of a role, you probably don't know about all the nitty gritty bits of a job. I remember my very first job, as a laboratory assistant, I enjoyed the science part, the hands-on experiments but it had never entered my head that part of my day would be making cups of tea for everyone! I certainly didn’t have a passion for tea. For this reason, it is worth digging deeper and trying things out before making a permanent switch, trying to find out every aspect of the role. This might not be always be possible but there may be ways to find out as much as you can about a future career if you do your research.

For some people turning a hobby into a full-time career is an option and you too might have a hobby which you are passionate about. However, this does not automatically mean if you turned this hobby into a career, it would mean you have found your dream job. What might bring you joy as a hobby, might not necessarily be as enjoyable as a career. With a hobby, there are not the same pressures and expectations as there are when you are trying to earn your main income. You could always test it out by turning your hobby into a side hustle, maintaining your current role whilst also developing your hobby into a potential income generator and seeing if this is the right thing for you. You might find out that even though it can make money, and you thought it was one of your passions, it doesn't necessarily mean this is the path for you to follow. 

Take things one step at a time, learn more, acquire more knowledge and experience it. Be prepared to invest the time, energy and money in to trying to turn up the flame. Figure out what you are passionate about because you spend a lot of your time in a work environment, life is too short not to be doing something you love, and which energises you. Don’t go looking for your passion, you already have it, you just need to feed it the right kind of fuel.

What is Success?

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Be honest, when you think of the word success, what springs to mind? In today's world, I think a large percentage of the responses would be linked to money. However, success is much more than that. The Oxford Dictionary definition includes '1. the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. 2. The attainment of fame, wealth or social status. 3. The good or bad outcome of an undertaking." What would your definition be?

Whilst spending the day training, and knowing the theme of today's blog, my thoughts often drifted to what I considered to be success and how success comes about. There are several aspects necessary for success; clarity, preparation, context and expectations.

Clarity:

By clearly defining your outcome or goal, it will be more achievable. Don't start anything without first knowing what your aim is. there must be a high degree of clarity or what the end result is. What is the actual outcome by which you are measuring success or by which you are satisfied success has been attained?

What are the criteria by which you are judging the success? If you are not clear, then how will you know you have achieved the outcome you have been striving for? A lack of clarity also leads to confusion. Confusion leads to overwhelm and inaction.

Preparation:

The Chinese Philosopher, Confucius says

 "In all things, success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure."

There is something in this I feel because there must be some preparation and planning before you implement a set of actions and behaviours.

Success is like taking a car journey. If you want to get to somewhere you have never been before, there is no point in just getting in the car and driving around aimlessly. You need to have some idea of where you want to so, otherwise how will you know you are going in the right direction or what is to stop you from driving around in circles, ending up back where you started or getting lost?

If you wanted to get from A to B, you'd set the details into your sat nav or look on Google Maps first to get a route. You'd make sure the car was capable of such a journey and had enough petrol in it to get you there. Maybe you'd want to check out where you'd stop off for a bite to eat; and this is even before you set off driving. Would all this preparation be a waste, or it is necessary in order to arrive where you need to be? And, if something then happened along the way, your previous skills and experiences would help you to navigate the challenge or respond accordingly.

Context:

What you consider success in one context might not be in another at the same moment in time. Success, therefore, needs to be defined clearly for each context.

Recognise that success is achieved in, and at, various stages. In some instances, there is a definite end point, but for others, it is a process, a series of micro successes that are constantly evolving. Success can be more fluid and maybe then it is more about the journey, and the feeling this generates, rather than the destination. This comes back to what your definition of success is. Is it a finite point where you declare, "I am a success” or is process where success is not measured by a grand end point but is a series of achievements along the way?

Expectations:

When it comes to determining our success, in whatever context, it is worth taking into consideration your expectations. Be realistic about what can be achieved in the timescale you have. For example, I could not get Mason to walk in a perfect heel position with a 10-minute training session, it would be totally unrealistic. Just like if you build a house, you'd have to dig out and put in the foundations. Then the completion of the house comes together brick by brick. Success is a culmination of multiple actions rather than an immediate gain.

Today, it is easy to readily associate success to fame and wealth because we are constantly bombarded via social media with messages of someone being famous, their success being defined by their celebrity status, and it is almost made out that this has all happened in an instant. But success is something more than the number of followers you have or the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is getting out of bed in a morning when you don't want to face the world. It is helping your children figure out their homework. Asking someone out on a date, and if they say yes, it's a double success. Or maybe it is getting a promotion, setting yourself and challenge and sticking to it, solving a Rubik’s Cube (epic failure where I am concerned, nod to my sister who can do it in quick time). And in my case this weekend, it is seeing Mason doing a few twists/turns and taking a few steps walking to heel.

Success is unique. Success is individual. Success is whatever you say it is.