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Seeking Passion in Your Life? First Step: Simplify.

Seeking Passion in Your Life? First Step: Simplify.

Passions can be elusive playmates. While some people seem to be born knowing what they want, some of us have to try everything out first to see if it fits. I know people who set their course for their dream job as soon as they could talk. And, then there are others who have no clue what they want to do when the grow up—even when they grow up. I fell into this late-bloomer category and followed a career for security reasons over life passion. I did this because I discovered I wasn’t living my passion after I was already in a cushy career. Breaking out of the rat race after getting comfortable there isn’t easy. But, staying in a job once I knew my true calling was worse. It led to burnout after ten years. Take it from me, you can earn a living following your heart. Don’t sacrifice your passions for a paycheck.

What about you? Are you following your fire within? If not, how do you find it? In my experience, you have to simply your life and let go!

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Let Go of the Stuff

The main reason I felt the need to continue in a career that I didn’t love is because I had a huge mortgage and a lot of stuff to manage; I knew I had to make X amount per year to feed our hungry budget. There wasn’t any way I could do that immediately by following my writing dream. So, my consumerism trapped me by plugging my ears to my inner heart cry.

When I sold the stuff, all of the pressure to make my current salary went with it. I was finally free of a cage that I didn’t realize I was contained in until it was gone. I realize this is a drastic move, and I’m not advocating you sell everything—unless it’s exactly what you need.

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Let Go of Your Need for Security

One reason I kept working for others doing something I didn’t enjoy was that I craved security. In my job, I always knew how much I would make. I had a company car and an amazing health care plan. Now, I no longer have those things. There are certainly sacrifices along the way, yet the peace found in pursuing my passion far outweighs my lack of company benefits and salary.

Is there a passion burning within, but you are afraid to follow it? I understand! It took me almost ten years to get up the courage, but every day you spend not doing what you love because of fear will cause you regret later. It’s just more of your life invested in surviving vs. living.

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Let Go of the Expectations

I always felt that to be successful, I needed to make an amazing salary. I thought that was the best way to measure success. I also stayed in a steady job because I felt that was what others expected from me. I was trying to fit into a mold, even though I wasn’t the author of it. I no longer feel that way. Chasing money over passion creates emptiness: If the money comes from pursing my passion, so much the better, but if it doesn’t, I am still doing what I love. An extra two thousand square feet in a house and a slightly nicer car aren’t worth the burn out.

Are you working in a role because you feel it meets others expectations for you? Maybe it’s time to have a talk about what you really want out of life. While I’m not advocating ignoring responsibilities or leaping off a ledge without a plan in place, it’s also ridiculous to ignore the proactive steps needed to break into your area of interest eventually. You may not have the luxury of leaving your job right away. But, even tiny daily steps such as researching opportunities, training options, and talking with others in your desired field will move you toward a happier future.

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Letting Go of the Job = Self Worth Mentality

You are so much more than your business card. In our culture, most people define their worth by a fancy job title. For years, I was trapped in this mindset: I wanted to see how much money I could make and how many promotions I could get, because somehow I felt this would mean I was worth more as a person. If others saw my value and paid me for it, then it was a justification of my merit. At the time, I placed success in my job on such a pedestal that I unknowingly was sacrificing my relationships, my health, and my marriage.

Now, I measure my self worth differently. I ask myself hard questions daily, such as: Am I doing what I love? Am I giving my best in all areas of life? At the end of my life, will I have regrets? Am I valuing people or possessions? Am I helping others? Am I leaving a legacy? If today were my last day of life, would I be happy with how I spent it? Living in this mindset brings me peace and shows me that I don’t need a massive salary or job title to be valued or happy.

Let Go of  the Rat Race

Often, work creates a lot of distractions that prevent you from deeper emotional digging. I found that when I was working, the mental endurance needed to do my job left me too exhausted to entertain other possibilities. I was so absorbed in my work, I didn’t take time to evaluate my life. While I took a drastic step and left my job, anyone can take a few days off to devote to some self exploration. Go somewhere quiet and peaceful for a few days. Consider what you value and if it aligns with how you currently spend your time. It’s empowering when you finally decide to quit the martyrdom and embrace what excites you.

If you aren’t following your life longings currently, deep down you already know it. While it is scary to let go, it is even scarier to give your years to something that you dread doing. So many people just slog through their days and live for the weekends. That’s not the way I want to spend my time! Simplify your life, remove the noise that’s drowning out your inner voice, and discover your passion. You will often find you can make an amazing living, and an even more amazing life, doing what you love.

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Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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