Every once in a while I come across an article calling bullshit on the whole “do what you love” movement. Usually my take on them is the same: “Good points, but too narrow and black-and-white in their view.”
There seems to be two camps in the question. On the one side is the follow your bliss crowd that seems to see pursuing your passion as a potent elixir that will lead you to success and a rollicking good time along the way.
On the other side is a smaller contingent that seems to be convinced that the advice to do what you love is a slippery slope to a career hell of impractical decisions, poverty, and failure.
It’s probably no surprise that I’m not a big fan of either school of thought. I lean toward the follow your bliss side, obviously, but I find it’s too often colored by magical thinking
There’s more than one dimension to loving your work. It’s not all “follow your bliss.” That can certainly be a part of it, but using that as your sole approach is unnecessarily limiting.
Below are three dimensions you can use to get Wild About Work, bring more juice to your job, and dig your days just a bit more.
I. Do work you love
This is what people typically think of when they think of following their bliss. “I love photography,” the thinking goes, “so I should be a photographer.
I have a different way of thinking about this one than most. I think it’s very seldom that people have The One Thing they’re called to do in their careers. Getting Wild About Work is less about finding The One Thing you’re meant to do, and more about finding a path that allows you to experience what energize you.
When you understand the recurring themes that tend to be present when you feel energized and alive (the underlying reasons why you love what you love), it opens the door to creating a career that allows you to experience those themes. That’s a lot more flexible and packed with options than trying to rigidly pursue The One Thing.
(Download my free short Wild About Work audio course for more ideas on how to do this.)
II. Love the work you do
Getting Wild About Work isn’t just about doing work you love. It’s also about loving the work you do.
Here’s the thing. You live in the real world. And sometimes that means you need to stay exactly where you are, even if it isn’t your dream job.
If that describes your situation and you buy into the black and white binary view of passion vs. work as a four-letter word, you’re pretty much screwed, condemned to suck it up and wait for the weekend.
In this dimension of getting Wild About Work, rather than pining over the work you wish you could have, you direct your attention to finding ways to love the work you do have.
You can start by asking questions, like:
- What do I enjoy about this work?
- What do I appreciate about this work?
- What challenges me in a good way about this work?
- What positive aspect of this work can I focus on?
- What difference am I making? Who am I helping?
You can also do what I describe as a “personal energy audit,” asking, “What is energizing/fun/enjoyable about this? What drains my energy about this?” Then use the answers as a starting point to explore ways to bring more of what energizes you and reduce the energy drains.
The basic gist of this dimension is that you can a) start directing your attention to what works and, b) start to sculpt your job and how you do it to tilt the balance towards what leaves you feeling energized and alive.
III. Sculpt your story
Finally, there’s the dimension that happens entirely between your ears. While it may seem the most insubstantial, it is also potentially the most powerful. Why? Because it’s the one we have the most control over.
We all tell ourselves stories about what we experience. That’s how we make sense of the world around us. If you have never taken a conscious look at those stories, they may seem like they’re reality. But in fact they are simply the lens through which we look at the world around us.
So why not use that fact and shape the lens you use to see the world?
At its simplest, sculpting your story is about shifting your awareness and attention away from what’s wrong towards what’s right. Looking around you and asking, “What can I appreciate about this? Where are the opportunities here (to grow, to enjoy, to connect, etc.)?”
The job is still the same job whether you focus on what’s negative about it or what’s positive. You still spend the same amount of time there. There is no risk to sculpting your story, and nothing but upside.
Putting it to use
You can work with each of these dimensions separately or simultaneously. Look at your work and ask:
- How can I move more fully towards doing what I love?
- How can I feel more love for what I do?
- How can I lean my focus more towards the positive?
And don’t just ask those questions once. make it a habit to ask them on an ongoing basis. The more you do, the more potential you have to consciously take advantage of some or all of those three dimensions to help you get Wild About Work.
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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