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Make Your Passion A Priority At Work

Make Your Passion A Priority At Work

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    Maybe one of your goals involves traveling the world or maybe you’re looking for enough time to help with a cause you feel passionate about. Either way, though, you likely have a prior commitment to an employer — or at least to paying rent and eating on a regular basis. Most of us are not in a position to quit working and spend all our time on those activities that we’d like to make a priority. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t add our own priorities to our work — it’s possible to incorporate our own interests into our work even if we haven’t landed our dream jobs.

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    Talk About Your Passions

    Your interests may have absolutely nothing to do with your job: most corporate jobs don’t take your passion for the arts or your after-work involvement in sports into account. But that doesn’t mean that limiting your discussion of such topics will pay off in the end. If you want to balance your work with your passions, it’s worth making sure your work actually knows that you have a few passions.

    I went to school with a friend who took an IT job immediately after graduation, despite being far more interested in making films. Just talking about his passion opened up some opportunities for him: he’s gotten involved in national competitions for films on his employer’s behalf, gotten access to company property for sets and props for his own projects and has been able to add some interesting responsibilities to his resume that actually involve making films. At the very least, he’s turned his job into something he enjoys — but he also has moved a little closer to working in a job that focuses on his passion, rather than incorporates it.

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    You don’t need to dominate every conversation around the water cooler, but it’s worth mentioning your hobbies and interests when they’re relevant. And if you see a clear path to bringing your interests to work, speak up. Even if it’s as simple as something like asking your employer to sponsor a local sports team, the company probably isn’t aware of the opportunity — or benefits — of sponsorship.

    Look for Flexibility

    There are certainly passions and professions that don’t really intersect: if your employer primarily targets local customers, you probably won’t be able to convince the company to send you to Thailand. That fact doesn’t stop a web designer that I’ve worked with in the past. She doesn’t have any interest in running her own business or freelancing — she likes the company that employs her. But she also enjoys spending about half of each year in Thailand. With a little flexibility on both the designer and the employer’s part, they’ve come to an agreement that works out pretty well for both of them. She telecommutes for months at a time, making sure to be in the country for those projects that her employer really wants her to handle inside the country.

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    Once again, you’ll have to actually mention that you’re looking for some flexibility to actually get it. As long as you have a pretty clear idea of what you want — leave work early once a week, telecommute or any other option that makes it easier for you to devote time to your priorities — and how you can turn that into a benefit for your employer, ask for a meeting with your supervisor. You may not get a ‘yes’ straight away, but if your employer sees that you are serious about making a change, you’ve at least built a starting point.

    Skip the Bluffs

    Adding your own priorities to your work day isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do. There will be cases where bringing the two together just isn’t possible, times when you have to focus on the fact that your employer is paying you money for your time and the company just isn’t interested in your hobbies. That’s okay. You don’t have to stop trying to focus on your passions during your 9 to 5 — it’s just time to step back and asses the situation.

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    There’s a danger in pushing too hard for one of your own priorities. There are plenty of examples out there of folks who told their employers that another priority or the need for flexibility and heard that the company couldn’t or wouldn’t offer them any help. In such situations, there is a temptation to try to bluff — to suggest that if you’re needs aren’t meet, you’re ready to move on. Such a bluff is generally not an ideal option. That isn’t to go against my suggestion to simply talk about your passions, especially to your boss. Instead, it’s an issues of the force you put behind such discussions.

    Instead, before things progress that far, it’s worth considering your options as a whole. For the time being, the best option may be keeping your job as your main priority: you still have after hours to work on your own projects, and you can slowly work towards finding a new job or business that allows you to shift your priorities. Your alternative is making the jump now: you can start a job hunt in earnest, hopefully focusing on jobs to are more closely related to your own pet projects. Or you can strike out on your own, focusing on freelancing or building your own business focused on your own priorities. It’s a question of which option is practical for your own situation.

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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