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5 Things No One Ever Tells You About Following Your Passion

5 Things No One Ever Tells You About Following Your Passion

So you’ve found your passion and have decided to follow it professionally. A fairy tale ending awaits, right?

Yes…and no.

Doing work from a place of passion is amazing, but finding your passion doesn’t always mean that the Disney movie is over and happily ever after is upon you. Here are a few things to expect when you find that next great thing in your career:

1. You may feel worse before you feel better.

One the one hand, finding something you can be passionate about feels a lot like the universe giving you a big high-five. You feel great. Life is great. You don’t have to stay stuck anymore. And then reality reaches out a sticky hand and drags you back down. The euphoria passes and you start to question yourself. Did you really figure this out? Are you making a giant mistake? Is this going to be too hard? What are you doing?

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The safety net of your last job seems a little bit like a beautiful island that you left, and now you may feel like you are stuck on a rowboat drifting out to sea all alone.

Any time you take a big risk with your livelihood and step off the beaten path, you are going to feel many things, most of them uncomfortable. You should know that it’s completely normal to feel this way. As human beings we are wired to try and stay safe. So abandoning a safe job for your passion is a little bit like getting on a roller coaster–there’s going to be some great highs on the hills, and some deep lows as you fall. But the good news is that the ride is pretty spectacular.

2. Your fears will be bigger.

When I was still consulting, a lot of my fears were around not getting promoted, not getting a bonus, or not figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew up (I was in my early 30s). I feared losing my job when the company went through hard times, or getting into trouble by being too headstrong as an employee (any of these sound familiar?). It wasn’t until I left my company that I found a set of much bigger fears.

How was I going to pay my rent? Or my bills? Or build my company? What if I was a giant failure? What if people saw me as a fraud at this thing I desperately wanted to be great at? What would I do then?

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I couldn’t hide behind a bad manager, or a bad leader, and pretend it was someone else’s fault. Everything rested on my ability to succeed and if I failed I had only one person to blame. I wasn’t sleeping well when I felt drained and stuck by my corporate work, but I definitely slept a lot less in the first few months of owning my business.

I’d be lying if I said having so many fears at once was fun, but there is good news. It’s very motivating to care deeply about something and want it to succeed, and to be able to completely shape the success. More importantly, as you build your confidence and grow in your abilities, a lot of those fears will go away or become more manageable.

3. Your comfort zone is a thing of the past.

When you have a job, even one you might not enjoy, that you’ve done for a while, you have a fairly comfortable routine. You know what’s expected of you, you know the good and bad of those you work with, and when you have questions you know where to go. Things are stable, and you know how you fit. You feel comfortable with where you are.

When you find your passion, you often do things a little differently–whether that is changing careers or starting your own business. And when you do that, you have to push yourself to learn new skills, to get new clients, and to overcome new obstacles.

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It’s exhausting.

In the beginning, you may never have a chance to be in your comfort zone because it’s all new. And that stretched, bruised feeling that you have comes from putting yourself out there all the time for people to judge.

But don’t worry. Over time you will get comfortable in a new routine and, moreover, you’ll be capable of doing so much more! No one ever really grows or becomes better if they stay with what they know, and going after your passion forces you to learn more than you ever thought you could.

4. You lose the ability to make decisions.

Anyone that has a routine job, especially established small business owners, isn’t hard-pressed to make too many tough decisions in any one day. The safety of routine and organization takes that pressure off of you.

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When you start a business or step into a new demanding role, decisions are required. Whether it’s deciding what to wear to impress clients, or who to hire and what to do next, you can make tons of decisions every day. You start to suffer from decision fatigue and eventually when someone asks you if you want ketchup with that you answer, “I don’t know.”

As you get more comfortable and grow your comfort zone, decision fatigue and the problems that come with it will dramatically lessen. And, as you develop some criteria (when someone asks about ketchup always say yes!), your life will absolutely become easier. I promise.

5.  It’s absolutely worth it. 

Following your passion has a ton of challenges. Some of which can take you by surprise, some of which you see coming, but either way it is worth it. Facing your fears, feeling connected to the work that you do, and knowing that you are really living life make the highs higher. And the risks you take to get there often lead to surprising rewards.

Nothing is better than feeling like you love what you do. If you’ve found your passion and are working at it professionally, what surprised you the most? If you are still looking, what’s the biggest thing holding you back? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Featured photo credit: Thinkin’ about the code/Ed Yourdon via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

Bonus:

If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

3. Take meaningful time for yourself

We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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No time for me-time? Try this:

If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

Bonus:

Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

4. Get productive and feel accomplished

Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

Try this:

Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

The bottom line

There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

The only question is — which tip will you try first?

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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