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Passion as a Work Multiplier

Passion as a Work Multiplier

Warning: Your Mileage May Vary on this specific post. Consider this an open idea, or a hack in progress.

I work best when I thread my professional efforts and my personal projects together in the same space. I might have a window open on the computer and in it, I’m defining a process flow for a new engagement model, and in another, I am writing a post to share with you here on Lifehack.org. Later in the day, it might be a mix of sending off emails to vendor partners and drawing in my sketchbook. When, for whatever reason, I put down my personal projects and hunker down into the business of the day, I often feel less engaged.

This would’ve escaped my notice had I not found myself having the same conversation twice with two different people today, both claiming that they seemed to feel much more energy to do their “day job” work when they mixed in a little bit of their personal passions alongside it.

Woodchoppers All

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Often times, I joke with software engineers that we should all quit our jobs and become lumberjacks. At least then, we’d have tangible proof that our efforts mattered. When code gets thrown out, when projects get canceled, when forces much larger than ourselves shift things in a direction we can’t control, things feel daunting, maybe even close to hopeless. It’s easy in those situations to take one’s foot of the gas.

But what if you had a way to stir some of your own personal passions in between the cracks of what it is you do to make a buck? What if you could guarantee much more passionate output on what you’re being paid to do by being permitted to thread into your day that which really ignites a spark in you?

Passion Allowance

For most of us, our reaction to feeling the malaise about our contributions not really impacting the organization as much as we want is to retreat into something innocuous. Some of us reorganize our email systems. Others recommit to smoking. Some just take longer and longer lunch breaks and leave early as many days as they can.

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Bosses see it, I’m sure. For some, they just don’t know what they can do to motivate. For others, they get the sense that they wish they could do the same thing.

What if there were an option for your supervisor to say, “Hey Ramesh, I know things have been a bit bad lately. Tell me what you wish you were doing right now.”

Okay, for some, the answer might be “fishing,” or “go home,” or similar, but if you and your supervisor felt you could truly talk about it, if it were a company imperative for people to be as engaged as they possibly could be, wouldn’t a “passion allowance” be an interesting way to keep the juices flowing.

For example, I recently attended the Podcast Academy in Boston, and I came back really invigorated about how our company might be able to employ podcasts internally as communications and learning tools, and externally, as a way to promote what it is we do to our prospective new customers. I was fired up, and I knocked down my VP’s door over and over to tell him about some other ways to spin what I’d learned into a neat company project.

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Oddly, my assigned work flourished at this same time, regardless of the final outcome of the podcast request.

Would it Hurt Production?

I believe we’re already finding ways to drag against production when things get daunting, when we feel overworked, when our best efforts feel like they’re for not. I believe our current methods are all negative, but also all easier to hide. We can discretely slow things down far easier than we can openly embrace things we’re passionate about.

So maybe yes. There might be a hit to productivity as opposed to sticking strictly to the job at hand, but I can imagine where the return on investement would be showing up: in excitement, in overall satisfaction, in a near-tangible electricity about what it is you’re passionate about, balanced by your current job.

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There are several ways people consume time during an average work day. “Work” rarely takes up all the hours we populate our places of employment. What differences could mixing passion in with the work at hand bring?

As I said, this probably will warrant lots of interesting commentary, especially heavy on the “there’s no way that would fly at MY place.” But I wonder how much of what we consider our standard work environment is considered far more permissive than the office spaces of 1964. Could it be this is yet another shift in the cultural needle that must happen to accommodate new trends in the way people get things done? What do you think?

–Chris Brogan writes about self-improvement and creativity at [chrisbrogan.com]. He will be attending BarCamp Boston in June, and would love to meet you there.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

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Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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