Many of you reading this post right now are in an untenable situation.
You hate your job, but you are stuck.
The reason you are stuck might relate to financial security, maintaining your standard of living, or believing you aren’t capable of doing anything else. You might feel obligations to family or a need to live up to expectations.
But the truth is that behind all of these reasons (which may be completely valid) is something much deeper and more debilitating — fear. The fear of the unknown is the primary reason that so many people are never able to live their life passions.
As a life passion coach, I work with people every week who are in that stuck place, debilitated by fear and unable to see how they can pursue their passion in light of their particular career and life circumstances. Through the process of examining their fears, shining the light of truth on them, and thinking creatively about options, we are able to move through the stuck feelings into real, positive action.
I have shared many of these strategies for action in my book, The 52-Week Life Passion Project, helping readers with weekly actions to address the fears and limiting beliefs them preventing them uncovering their passion and making it real in their daily lives.
Here is an excerpt from the book discussing how you can begin to change your perspective about your career and your potential for living your life passion:
The 52-Week Life Passion Project, Week 34, Career Satisfaction
Let’s start with the raw facts, shall we? On a scale of 1-10, with ten being complete satisfaction and one being totally unhappy, how happy are you with your job? If your answer wasn’t eight or above, it’s time to think about what you want to do with this knowledge.
In a 2010 study conducted by The Conference Board, a business research association, only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their work (just satisfied, not passionate). This is the lowest level recorded in the 22 years of this survey.
In this economy, with the jobless rate hovering near 10%, many of us feel lucky just to have a job. Thinking about risking a sure thing to do something you love feels indulgent, if not downright dangerous. Why tempt fate when that paycheck is coming in every month? Doing what you love and “following your bliss” seem like concepts for bumper stickers or refrigerator magnets — not for today’s economic reality.
Many people feel stuck in their current situations because they don’t see way out. They don’t see a way to make passion and purpose pay — or at least pay in the way they’ve grown accustomed to. It feels way too risky. There are many other fears and limiting beliefs that lurk around the notion of making a living doing what you love, further separating us from the hope of career happiness.
- What if I’m not as passionate about my passion as I thought I was?
- What if I fail?
- What if people think I’m crazy and reject me?
- What if I make my family unhappy?
- What if I have to give up my current lifestyle?
- What if passion and purpose are just wacky concepts that have no real life application?
- What if I pick the wrong passion?
- What if I have to go back to school or get more training?
But consider this for a moment: you spend 8-10 hours a day at your job. That’s more than half of your waking hours in a day. If you don’t like your job, you’re sacrificing half of your day to a state of unhappiness or at best, toleration. Is that acceptable to you?
To help you answer that question, think about this one — “What parts of my current life does passion trump?”
Does living a life of purpose and passion trump . . .
- your current salary;
- your current lifestyle;
- where you live;
- how you are perceived by others;
- your spouse or partner’s wishes;
- your children’s wishes;
- your parent’s wishes;
- your material things;
- how you spend your time?
For me, making a living doing what I love trumps just about all of these things. That doesn’t mean there aren’t adjustments I can make to accommodate people I love, or that I’ve had to change everything. But it means I’ve chosen to give up some things so I can live differently. And because I live differently, some of those things don’t matter as much anymore.
After considering the difficulties and potential repercussions of starting over in a career you love, most people resign themselves to the status quo. There’s just too much at stake or too many roadblocks. But before you give up on finding and living your life passion through work or otherwise, I’d like to present you with an avenue of hope.
First, many of the perceived impediments to starting over or creating a career around your life passion are just that — perceived. Often we fear things that never come to pass if we begin taking the steps toward what we love.
- Perhaps you can live with less money.
- Perhaps your spouse will be supportive.
- Perhaps your boss will allow you some flexibility.
- Perhaps you do have the time to take some courses or training.
- Perhaps there is a way to make a living from your passion.
- Perhaps you and your family will thrive rather than struggle through the process.
There are points in our lives where it is impossible or simply not practical to start over, give up your security, or take time off to learn a new skill or go back to school. Maybe you have commitments you need to honor — to send your kids to college, or take care of an elderly parent, or pay off your mortgage.
Only you can decide when and why to sacrifice passion in your career for the practicalities in life. But (and here’s the good news), that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice passion altogether.
The restorative and emotionally fulfilling benefits of living your passion in some form will compensate for a less-than-satisfying job. In fact, sometimes it can lead to a career in a way you never expected.
Khaled Hosseini, the author of the bestselling and internationally-acclaimed novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, began his career practicing internal medicine. However, his passion was to be a writer and to tell the story of life in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion.
He began writing while he was working diligently at another very demanding profession. But his intense passion for writing resulted in a novel that sold 4 million copies and generated a feature film. The success of his first novel has allowed him to write full-time, although that was not his intent when he began writing.
But even if your passion doesn’t lead you to a new career, it can lead you to a more fulfilling and interesting life. It can bring a balance and richness to life that transcends your dissatisfaction with your work. And perhaps, like Khaled Hosseini, your passion will open doors for a new kind of work.
Weekly Action: How do you feel about your job? If you were able to have a career based on something you love, something that makes you come alive, what would that passionate work trump (see the list above)? What would you be willing to sacrifice in order to do passionate work?