Energize your work with a big picture vision

vision

Imagine having a job that isn’t a good fit, one that feels uninspiring, even frustrating. Now imagine projecting that forward for the next ten years.

Does it get heavier? Does that feel harder to tolerate than simply spending one day doing something that is out of alignment?

That projection is something many people do. They take a less-than-ideal current experience and project it forward, filling the future with an infinite series of uninspired days like two mirrors reflecting each other. If you think of each of those days as a mental, emotional weight, that gets heavy quickly!

Why do people do that? Because that’s all they can see! They look into the future and see a void, which their mind then fills in with more of the same.

The value of a vision

The good news is that you can take advantage of the flip side of that as well. Instead of projecting your current dissatisfaction endlessly into the future, you can project inspiration.

When you feel stuck on an endless treadmill of uninspired days, it can feel draining and disheartening. But what if you were actually headed someplace you cared about? What if the work you do today could be put in the context of a step towards a vision that energizes and inspires you?

Imagine creating a 10-year vision for your career, a goal that inspires you and challenges you to bring your full array of gifts and abilities to the game. It might be related to what you’re currently doing, or it might be something completely unrelated.

(Check out these links for more on the benefits of a vision and how to discover your vision.)

When you find a compelling vision and commit to moving towards it, it creates a whole new context for the here and now. First, it blasts you loose from Stuckville. You no longer feel condemned to repeat day after day of a job that doesn’t really work for you.

On the surface, nothing might have changed. You might still be showing up, putting in your time in a job that doesn’t quite fit, and going home. But now you’re also creating momentum toward something you care about.

That one simple fact can cause a huge shift in how you experience your work. Why? Because you no longer have the weight of an infinite number of future days of a job that drags you down. You can see a different possibility. More importantly, you’re starting to move towards it.

A vision opens the door to action

When you identify that vision, you can start asking questions, like:

  • What steps do I need to take to get there?
  • What part of my current experience can help me make it happen?
  • Where are the opportunities to learn and grow in my current work that can better prepare me to make this happen?
  • Who do I need to know to help me make it happen?
  • What knowledge do I need to gain?
  • What communities do I need to get involved in?

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You’ll notice that, once you get the context of what it’s going to take to get there, you can start exploring how to take advantage of your current path. Now suddenly it’s not just an ill-fitting job stumbling into an infinitely ill-fitting future. There is potential to find value in it, even if it’s not yet what you really want to be doing.

Is there training you could pursue? A project you could volunteer for that would give you valuable experience? Mentors you can find?

Even if there is absolutely nothing you can find in your current job that will help move you towards the vision, you can still put it in context of that vision.

How? By recognizing that it’s a platform from which to start building. Think of your current job as a funding source to fund your pursuit of your vision. While you are taking steps on a parallel track (learning, building relationships, etc.) your job is providing a revenue stream to meet your needs.

So what’s your vision?

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Energize your job by changing your stories

heart story

Your life is full of stories. In fact, you’re probably telling one right now. Maybe it’s a story about how much you need to make a change in your work. Maybe it’s a story of feeling like this is probably just another self-help technique that won’t work for you. Maybe it’s a story of interest and curiosity as you look at another possible tool to add to your life’s toolkit.

You can’t NOT tell stories. It’s how the human mind works, and how we make sense of the world around us. Those stories might be affirming and supportive of the life you want to create, or they might have a limiting effect.

The stories you tell create the lens through which you see the world. That in turn dictates how you interpret events and experience your life.

Those two things – that our minds are non-stop story machines, and that those stories shape how we experience the world – makes this post in my series about how to add juice to your job especially powerful.

Types of stories

Broadly speaking, your stories fall into three types. Limiting, constricting stories, enhancing stories, and neutral stories.

Limiting stories limit your potential and paint the world with a negative, pessimistic brush. They’re stories about what you can or can’t do, expectations of what is and isn’t possible, negative assumptions about others, or any one of a bazillion other ways we contract our view of the world and isolate ourselves.

Enhancing stories are the opposite. They open possibilities. They open the heart. The open the door to connection. They’re stories about what’s possible, positive assumptions, supportive perspectives on both yourself and others, etc.

Neutral stories have no particular effect one way or the other.

In this post, we’ll be focusing mainly reducing the limiting stories and building up the enhancing stories.

How to recognize your stories

Once you start looking for them, your limiting stories are pretty easy to spot. Often, it’s as simple as noticing how you feel. If you notice you feel tight, constricted, stressed, etc., pause and ask, “What’s causing this? What story am I responding to?”

Limiting stories are often recognizeable by the way the start. Some common telltale signs include:

  • I can’t
  • I’m not
  • They won’t
  • I should
  • I shouldn’t
  • They should
  • They shouldn’t
  • I always
  • I never
  • They always
  • They never.
  • I’m such a
  • Why can’t I

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And on and on it goes.

Another way to look for limiting stories is asking, “And what does that mean about ______ (me, others, the world, my career, etc.)?” When you notice yourself having a negative response – say you’re feeling frustrated with your job – whip that question out. Often you’ll find that it’s not just the immediate source of that response (in this example, a frustrating experience), but multiple layers of story that get slathered onto it.

Say you ask, “And what does that mean about me?” in response to feeling stuck in your career. Some common answers that might come up are, “It means I’m trapped in a situation I don’t like, and I’ll be stuck here forever. It means I’m too stupid to figure out how to fix it. It means I’m too lazy to make the changes I need to make.”

So what you experience isn’t just the immediate frustration, but the cumulative weight of all those stories.

Building your awareness muscle

If you’re new to it, developing a consistent awareness of your limiting stories can take time (and you will always be discovering new ones you didn’t realize were there). It can be helpful to look at it as an ongoing process, rather than a flip-of-the-switch change.

A great way to start building that awareness muscle is to do an end-of-day review. Look back at the end of your day and look for times where you felt that constriction, or where you got caught up in a negative story. You’re not looking to change anything at first. You’re just developing your noticing skills.

As you do that over time, you’ll find that your awareness naturally starts to filter into your days. It also has the benefit of helping you see some of the common storylines you habitually follow.

There are an infinite number of limiting stories we tell ourselves, and often we don’t notice them. They just seem like the reality we have no choice but to muddle through.

The good news is that, the more adept you get at noticing the stories and recognizing them for what they are, the more opportunity you create to escape their clutches and shift into a more positive, enhancing story.

How to change your stories

Great, so you’ve started noticing your limiting stories. Now what? Keeping in mind that this is more of a sculpting process than an immediate change, here are some ways to start shifting your stories toward the positive and enhancing.

Question them

When you notice a negative story, question it. Is it really true? Is it always true? Might there be other valid ways of looking at it?

Often, our negative stories wilt under the light of scrutiny. “I can’t do anything right!” Really? I mean, come on. You could be the world’s biggest screw-up, and that story still wouldn’t be true.

 Replace them

A simple way to change your negative stories is to simply replace them with more beneficial ones. I often do this when frustration or irritation comes up with someone in traffic. For example, if someone is clearly in a hurry and cuts me off, my irritated, angry story might be, “What an asshole!”

But if I look at other ways of seeing it, I might see possibilities like, “He’s late for something really important. Or maybe he’s on the way to the hospital where his wife is having a baby. Or maybe he just didn’t realize he cut me off – I’ve certainly been guilty of that in the past.”

All those alternatives feel less toxic to my state of mind than my original story.

Crowd them out

Finally, you can bit by bit take away their space. Fill your noggin with so much positive that the limiting stories run out of room to maneuver. Just like the marble jar analogy I talked about in my last post, when you fill your mind with the positive, there is less space for limiting stories to take root.

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Energize your work by changing your focus

focus

Imagine yourself sitting in a bungalow on a tropical beach. It’s a bit of a budget place, so the accommodations aren’t all that fancy. On the other hand…come on! You’re hanging out at a tropical beach!

Now imagine two scenarios. In one, you’re sitting in the bungalow and thinking, “Man, this place has seen better days. Look at these walls – they should have had a new paint job years ago. What a dump. I wish I could afford a better place. I always have to settle for second rate.”

Now for the second. You’re sitting there and, while you notice that the bungalow has seen better days, that’s not where your attention is lingering. “What an incredible view! I can feel the vitamin D just looking at that sunshine. Look at the color of that water. Amazing! I’m so blessed that I could find this low-budget option so I could come here even when money is tight.”

What you experience is the result in large part of what you choose to focus on. The exact same situation can be experienced in completely different ways.

You can use that fact to improve your day-to-day experience at work.

Where is your focus?

Take a look at what you focus on over the course of a work day. Do hash and rehash everything that’s wrong with your job, with your boss, with the jerk who leaves his dirty dishes in the lunchroom without washing them. Do you get pulled into the daily water cooler bitch-o-rama?

Or do you take any opportunity you can get to look for what’s good? Do you stop and savor the things you enjoy? Do you make an effort to notice things to be grateful for?

This isn’t about blowing sunshine up your wazoo and pretending everything is sunshine and daisies if it’s not. It’s about choosing where to direct your attention.

If something sucks, pretending it doesn’t won’t make it go away. But you don’t have to feed the fire of that suckituce. You can choose whether to keep your attention there, spinning round and round on that hamster wheel of negativity, or whether to aim it in a more positive and sustaining direction.

The more you can create a positive perspective, paying attention to the various shades of what’s good, the more positive your days will be, and the less of a draining effect the negatives will have.

How to shift your attention to the positive

If you realize that you habitually focus on the negative, you’re probably not going flip a switch and magically focus on the positive. But you can gradually shift the balance in a positive direction.

Step 1: Take stock

Start by simply noticing where your attention spends its time. For the next week, do an end-of-day review. Where was your focus during that day? Pay special attention to the sticky bits, the negative things that keep recurring.

If you want to get a more detailed look at this, try setting a timer to go off every hour during that week. When you hear it, check in with yourself. Ask, “Where has my attention been? Has my focus been positive, negative, or neutral in the last hour?”

The idea with this part is to simply get a better picture of what is actually going on. You can’t change what you don’t notice. Consciously noticing the times when you fall into the negative spin cycle gives you an opportunity to start making different choices.

Step 2: Notice and replace

As you start seeing when your focus is dwelling on the negative, it opens the door to looking for alternatives. “OK, here’s that ‘my boss is an asshole’ story. Maybe that’s true, but what else can I notice? What do I like about him? What do I like about my job? What do I appreciate about the people around me?'”

You can use the negative focus you notice as a reminder to shift your attention to something more positive and constructive.

Step 3: Look for the positive

Finally, you can start habitually looking for positive things to focus on. What can you appreciate? What can you enjoy? What can you notice that is even a little bit fun, or delightful?

Think of it as a jar full of marbles. The more positive marbles you put into the jar, the less space you have for negative marbles.

The exciting thing about this opportunity to add juice to your job is that it relies exclusively on the sole thing you have real control over in this world – what goes on between your ears.

By managing your focus, you direct your mind to create a more positive perspective. That perspective in turn creates a more positive experience. Even when nothing in your external world has changed.

Kinda like magic, right?

[This post is part of a series on how to feel more juice in your current job.]

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How a make-a-difference mindset energizes your work

make a difference

One of the fundamental characteristics of being human is a desire to make a difference. We want to feel that what we do matters. You can use that to your advantage in your efforts to add juice to your job.

Far too many people get caught on the hamster wheel at work, spinning around and feeling like little more than a faceless cog in the works. Hardly an inspiring source of energy.

One way to change that is to change your context. Step back and ask questions like:

  • Who is this benefitting?
  • How does this help?
  • What is better because of what I’m doing?
  • What does this enable?
  • Whose life is easier because of what I do?
  • Whose work is more productive because of this?
  • What is the end result that this contributes to?”
  • What opportunities does this create?.

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When you’re dissatisfied with your work, your focus can collapse down to me, me, me. “This is boring me. I don’t like this. I’m unhappy here.”

Focusing on the difference you make takes your focus out of that negative spin cycle that keeps leading back to your dissatisfaction and places it somewhere else. The goal is to shift your context out of your own small story into a bigger story about how what you do makes a difference.

Questions like the ones above are a great way to expand the scope of your awareness of where your impact reaches. You might even make it a point to ask them on a regular basis (maybe weekly, or even daily) to make a habit of aiming your focus in a positive direction.

If you want to go wild and take it a step further, you could reach to the people who benefit from your work (if you are able to) and ask them how it helps them. Ask them why it matters.

Even in my work, which is based around helping people, it can make a world of difference in how I feel about what I’m doing when somebody gives me feedback on the impact the work we did together had on their life. That positive feedback can be a great energizer.

The more aware you are of the impact you have, the stronger your make-a-difference mindset.

[If you want to go deeper into this idea, download my free audio course that guides you through the process, or check out my e-book The Occupational Adventure Guide.]

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Time for a career change? Ask these questions to find out

questions

Think about a typical day of work. What is the experience like for you? Does it leave you feeling energized and engaged, depleted and drained, or just kinda bored and indifferent?

Studies have consistently shown that half the people out there are dissatisfied with their work. Think about that. Next time you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, statistically speaking, either the person in front of you or behind you is coming home from a job they’re unhappy with.

Or maybe the unhappy one is you! It can be easy to go into auto-pilot mode and just grind on through each week, but it’s worth taking yourself out of that loop to take an objective look. Because you don’t have to stay there!

Is it time for a change in your career? Here are some questions to help you evaluate that.

#1: Do I get to be who I am, or do I need to put on a costume when I show up every day (assuming you’re not paid to play batman)?

For SO many people, going to work is about another day of showing up and being who they’re not. Not only does that façade take a lot of energy to maintain, it’s also a sign that you’re not doing something that allows you to be where you’re naturally at your best.

Don’t think about it. How does it feel? Does it feel natural, or does it take effort just to get through another day of getting the job done?

#2: Identify the percentages

OK, this is more a formula for a question than a specific question itself. For any given topic, assign percentages to a high, neutral, and low response. If it helps to see it visually, try expressing it as a pie chart.

What percentage of the time does what I do:

  • Energize me?
  • Drain and deplete me?
  • Feel neutral (not something you love, but fine to do)?

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What percentage of the time does what I do:

  • Engage me? (You feel drawn into it and it’s easy to stay focused on what you’re doing.)
  • Leave me feeling disengaged? (A trip to the dentist might be a welcome distraction.)
  • Feel neutral (Not bad. Not great. Doable.)?

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What percentage of the time do I:

  • Feel like I’m in my groove? (Where you’re operating at your best, doing what you love and you’re good at?)
  • Feel like I’m in a grind?
  • Feel neutral about what I’m doing?

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What percentage of the time do I:

  • Enjoy the work I’m doing?
  • Actively dislike the work I’m doing?
  • Feel neutral about the work I’m doing?

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This is a handy way to do a quick assessment of any aspect of your work. You can assign percentages to things like, for example:

  • What percentage of my time spent interacting with my co-workers do I enjoy?
  • What percentage of what I do reinforces a feeling of confidence?
  • What percentage of what I do is something I would do without being paid, just because I enjoy it so much?

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Assigning percentages like that is a valuable way to both force yourself to evaluate what’s going on and get a quick view of the situation.

It can also be valuable to ask questions that take you deeper. For example:

#3: When I think about seeing myself ten years down the road on the path I’m on, how does that feel? Twenty years?

Really let yourself dive into this one. Let it be a gut reaction, rather than an analysis. How does it feel to think about what you’re doing ten years on? Does it feel good, or do you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach?

#4: Do I care about the outcome of what I do?

You don’t have to feel like you’re solving world hunger, but if you look at what you’re doing and find yourself thinking, “Really? Is this all there is?,” it might be a sign that you feel the need to do something that resonates more with the difference you feel called to make.

Is it time for a change? 

There is no formula where if you answered a certain percentage of the questions a certain way it’s time for a career change. These questions are simply designed to give you a better picture of how things really stand, and to put things in perspective.

As you look at the answers to the questions above, you might wrap up with one final question to help the insight flow more fluidly:

If I didn’t have to worry about _________ (whatever your head tells you is why you can’t make a change), would I keep doing what I’m doing, or would I make a change?

Separating how you feel about the fit of your work from the logistics of whatever a change might entail can help you see it with more clarity.

[If you want to go deeper into this idea, download my free audio course that guides you through the process, or check out my e-book The Occupational Adventure Guide.]

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Add juice to your job by changing how you do it

swing fly

In my last post in this series on how to add juice to your job, we explored how to energize your current job by changing what you do in your work. Today we’re going to look at another way to tip the scale in a more energized direction – changing how you do it.

Start by looking at the different aspects of what you do during the day and ask, “Is there any way I could make this more appealing? Is there any way I could do this that would be more aligned with how I am when I’m at my best? Is there any way I could do this that aligns more with my natural approach when I’m in the groove?”

Here are some ideas to illustrate the point.

  • Say you have to create the same old spreadsheet again and again, and you know that you have a competitive streak. Could you time yourself and aim for a personal best in putting it together each time?
  • If you realize that you feel isolated in your work and you’re more of a social person, maybe you could find a way to incorporate more interaction into the process.
  • Could you make a game out of finding ways to constantly improve how you approach your work, its effectiveness, etc.? Could you make part of your job a continual quest of for how to solve the puzzle of how to make it better?
  • For that matter, rather than just sitting and saying, “Well, I guess this is just the way it is,” could you turn your job into a continual quest for ways to make it more enjoyable?

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As a completely non-work-related example, several years ago a friend and I discovered that we had both started studying Spanish at the same time. She was taking a class, and I was teaching myself.

We’re both fairly competitive, and it wasn’t long before we had made a bet on who would have a greater mastery of the language after a year. The plan was to hire a Spanish teacher to test us.

The entire next year, that competition wove in and out of both our studies. We were constantly checking in and needling each other about where we were with it.

We never did end up hiring someone to test us, but that competitive game got us both through the challenging early stage of learning a new language and made us much more committed and motivated. It made what could have been drudgery into a fun challenge.

So we didn’t change what we did. We slogged through the clumsy initial stages of a new language. But changing how we did it – introducing a competition between us – changed the experience entirely.

Changing how you do things probably isn’t a “miracle cure.” It won’t magically turn drudgery into bliss. But if it makes the experience even 20% better, well, that’s 20% better! Right?

And remember. The goal with all of these ideas is to cumulatively add more juice to your job. Drop by drop, it adds up.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How to energize your work by changing what you do

smiley

If you want to feel more energized in the job you have right now, an obvious step is to explore the question, “What can I change about what I do?”

This is one of a series of posts on how to juice up your job right where you’re at. In the first step, you used the Gain-to-Drain Ratio to do a “personal energy audit” of your job. In the second, you identified your energizers.

Those two steps gave you specifics to work with, both about your job and what lights you up. Now you can start putting that insight to work by changing what you do.

Is there any way to do more of what you really enjoy about your work? Is there any way you can start doing less of what sucks the energy right out of your world? Remember that very few jobs are cast in stone. Especially when you add time into the mix, many jobs are pretty malleable.

In fact, ignoring your job’s malleability is a great way to stay unnecessarily stuck in the same old dissatisfied rut.

Incorporate your energizers

In my last post, I talked about finding your energizers – the underlying reasons why you love what you love, the common themes that tend to be there when you feel energized and engaged. (For example, exploration and discovery is a hugely important energizer for me. Other people’s energizers might include, for example, creating, or analysis, or problem-solving, or helping people thrive.)

Knowing what your energizers are opens the door to a powerful yet simple job-sculpting question: “How can I experience more of those?”

Help your boss help you

One way I have seen my Passion Catalyst clients do that really effectively is sharing what they have learned with their boss, providing her or him with more insight on how to shape their responsibilities to better reflect where they shined.

Think about it. One of the challenges any boss has is how to get the most out of the people who work for her. The most productivity, the highest performance, etc. When you tell your boss, “here are the underlying characteristics that are there when I’m most energized,” you’re really telling her, “Here are some of the ways to get the most out of me. Here are some of the ways you can help me feel at the top of my game.” That in turn would help your boss recognize what projects and responsibilities to steer your way.

I have seen this one thing turn a mediocre fit into a job the client loves. It’s not some kind of magic wand solution. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. Depending on how far off base you are to begin with, a more likely outcome might be that you will start feeling better about how you spend your days, even if it isn’t a perfect fit. Definitely better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!

Scan the horizon and evaluate opportunities 

Another way you can put your knowledge of what lights you up to use is to scan the horizon for opportunities that will let you experience more of your energizers. For example, let’s say your company is just starting to develop an employee volunteer program, and there is an opportunity for somebody to step up and spearhead its development.

In identifying your organizers, let’s say two common themes that came up were organizing and helping people. Looking at the role of developing the volunteer program you might realize, “Wow! That is jam packed with organizing and helping people!” So you lobby for the opportunity to take it on.

Presto! More juice in your job.

That same process can apply any time you’re presented with, for example, the opportunity to take on a new project, or a new responsibility in your job. You can go beyond the normal “will this give me experience/visibility/etc.” and ask, “Is this likely to leave me feeling energized?”

The cumulative impact of that one question over time can be enormous.

Use your energy audit

The point of the energy audit (where you identified what energizes you about your job and what drains your energy) was to give you a detailed picture of what’s happening in your job so you have specifics to work with as you start taking action to make positive change.

You can look at all the aspects of your work you have identified that give you energy and ask, “Is there any way I can bring more of each of these things into the picture?” Conversely, you can look at the energy drains and ask, “Is there any way I can do less of these things?”

Here again, as appropriate, it might be worth sharing some of these insights with your boss. She might be able to steer more of what energizes you your way, or even take some of what drains you off your hands. I’ve even seen clients initiate a partial “responsibilities swap” with a co-worker who was better suited for a particular responsibility.

Take advantage of time

Finally, don’t limit yourself by feeling you need to make all the positive change possible right now. Some of the positive change that is possible only unfolds over time.

Remind yourself that there is a cumulative change that can unfold if you cultivate it. Make the immediate change where you can, but watch for the opportunities that will help your job evolve as well.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

 

Do you know what your energizers are?

It's not what you love. It's why you love it.

One of the biggest mistakes I see when people start thinking about pursuing passion in their career is a limited perspective on what that means.

“I love travel,” the traditional follow-your-passion thinking goes, “so I should be a travel photographer.” Or, “I love cooking, so I should be a chef.”

I want to share a different way of thinking about creating a career that lights you up, one that expands the potential to feel energized and inspired by the work you do beyond the obvious options.

It’s an idea at the heart of a lot of the work I do with my Passion Catalyst clients, and over the years I have found it to both simple and extremely effective.

In a nutshell, it’s not about what you love. It’s about why you love it.

Why it’s not WHAT you love, but WHY

As I explained in my recent post, What is passion?, my definition of passion is “the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.”

It’s about aligning what you do with who you are. It’s about doing the kinds of things, in the kinds of ways, towards the kinds of outcomes, with the kinds of people, etc. that naturally energize you.

The big question then is, “How do you bring more of YOU into what you do?” How do you make conscious, intentional decisions that align with what energizes you?

The trouble with using what you love as a guide is that it doesn’t tell the whole story. Two people can both say the same thing – “I love travel,” for instance. But they might actually be speaking two completely different languages.

When you say “I love _____,” what’s left unsaid is, “because ______, ______, and _______.” The reasons why two people love something can be vastly different.

So what the first person loves about travel might be the exploration and discovery, never knowing what’s around the next corner, and the stimulation of the new.

The second person might say, “Yeah, that’s fun, but what I really love is the planning, preparation, and logistics. And the problem-solving on the fly based on the preparation I did before I left.”

Those are two completely different experiences.

Now let’s say the person energized by the exploration and discovery says, “I know, I’ll get a job coordinating tours for a travel company. It will be perfect!” And within a week they want to jump off a bridge, because the job is all about details and logistics. It has nothing to do with where the energy of travel is for them.

Ultimately, if you want to bring more of YOU into what you do, it can’t be at the level of what you love. It has to be at a level that is unique and individual to you – why you love it.

How to identify your energizers

Here’s what I do with my clients. To start with, make a list of all the things that have lit you up over the course of your life. Work or play, it doesn’t matter. You could list jobs, projects you’ve worked on, hobbies, classes or subjects in school, extracurricular activities, etc.

Once you’re done, pick one. It’s time to reverse engineer it to identify the reasons why. Ask, “Why do I love this? Why is this so much fun? Why is this so energizing?”

List all the reasons you can think of. But don’t stop there. Go back to each of those reasons why and ask “why?” again. Each reason why offers a starting point to go deeper.

It’s tempting to just go one level down and call it done. Resist that urge! You’ll be leaving valuable insight on the table. Challenge yourself to go down at least four layers of why.

As you explore multiple things from your list, you will start to see common themes in why you love what you love. Recurring reasons why will keep showing up, even in things that look like they have nothing in common. Those are your energizers.

For example, on the surface my Passion Catalyst coaching, my travel photography hobby, and my love of doing genealogical research look like apples, oranges, and kumquats. No commonality at all. But if you peel back the layers, you can see they each offer an opportunity for me to experience exploration and discovery, one of my biggest energizers.

As the themes emerge, put them all in one place. Remember the definition of passion? Passion is the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do. Now you have a snapshot of who you are, specifically as it relates to what energizes you.

That means you have a way to consciously, intentionally make decisions that bring more of what energizes you into the picture.

This opens up a shift in how we think about passion. Instead of “what’s my passion,” you can ask, “what jobs and careers will allow me to experience these energizers?” The job becomes a vehicle for you to experience the underlying themes that tend to be there when you’re on fire.

And that opens up a LOT more possibilities for an energized career than simply asking, “What is my passion?”

[Check out the rest of this series on how to feel more juice in your job.]

[If you want to go deeper into this idea, download my free audio course that guides you through the process, or check out my e-book The Occupational Adventure Guide.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

6 lessons from my life as a Passion Catalyst

ripples

Thirteen years ago today, I had my first taste of what it feels like to do work that is truly, authentically in alignment with who you are. It changed my life. On May 15, 2001, I did my very first Passion Catalyst session.

Prior to that, I had been what I frequently describe as a professional malcontent, treading water in a career that didn’t fit, feeling like maybe I just needed to chuck it all and go to art school.

I was frustrated, bored, and unhappy. But I had no idea what to do about it.

Lesson #1: Sometimes the best change comes out of complete suckitude

Fortunately (though it definitely didn’t feel like it at the time), the universe came along and booted me out of the nest with a 2×4 upside the head. As a marketing consultant at the time focused on technology companies, my services were first in line to get cut when the dot com bubble burst. I was effectively self-unemployed, with no safety net.

As I plummeted in a professional freefall, I met with senior marketing exec after senior marketing exec, trying to drum up new business. No dice.

What did happen sent me on a whole new path. A networking conversation over coffee turned into a conversation about a business the person wanted to start based on a hobby he was passionate about (flying). By the end of the conversation he was vibrating with excitement, filled with new ideas, and perspectives, and possibilities he hadn’t seen before.

Lesson #2: Listen to the natural possibilities

As I thought about it later that day I thought, “What is that? Because that happens all the time. I have conversations with people, and they come away feeling like that.

It seemed like it had value, so I thought there might be a way to generate income with it. And since I was in freefall in my old career, I had nothing whatsoever holding me back.

I talked about it and talked about it and talked about it. I realized it probably needed to have some kind of ongoing component because if people were anything like me, they would get momentarily inspired and then the energy would seep away, leaving them at the exact same place.

Lesson #3: When you get good advice, listen.

Eventually I realized that what I was really exploring was coaching. Over lunch with a woman who had a coaching practice, I got one of the most valuable bits of advice I’ve had – valuable because it set me on the right trajectory from the beginning. She said, “You know you don’t get to tell people what to do, right?”

I was a bit crestfallen at that, to be honest. I liked telling people what to do. I had good ideas, dammit! I was coming from my old consulting paradigm (not to mention my ego) and didn’t really want to let it go.

That conversation laid the foundation for my deep belief that each of us is the best expert in what’s best for us. My role is not to tell anyone what to do, but to help them discover their own self-expertise.

Lesson #4: Enough talking already. Do it!

After talking about it for a couple months I realized that I can – and often do – talk a good idea to death. I needed to take action. I proposed a five-session “guinea pig” package with one of the people I had connected with in my networking who was at a career crossroads. I proposed a nominal fee, primarily as a way to start convincing myself that I really could charge for this thing I had always done naturally.

On May 15th we met at the Zeitgeist coffee shop in downtown Seattle, and I took the plunge.

Lesson #5: A career that fits makes all the difference in the world

We talked for an hour in that first session and, as I sat there after we wrapped up, I thought, “I don’t need a guinea pig! This is who I am! This is what I have done naturally for as long as I can remember.”

It was such a fluid, natural feeling. I had never felt anything like it in my career before. Suddenly, I knew what I had been missing.

The difference between that and my professional malcontent days was night and day. Back in my days of employment, I hated the question, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” I thought some people had vision, and some people didn’t. And I, unfortunately, fell squarely in the no-vision camp.

A year or so into my Passion Catalyst work, I realized that not only did I have a five-year plan, but it had come about because my brain couldn’t stop exploring the possibilities.

It felt like someone who had long been trapped below the surface was finally free to fly.

Lesson #6: It’s not all sunshine and roses (but a lot of it is)

I don’t want to give the impression that everything worked out magically once I made the decision to create a career that fit. I’ve felt some serious bumps and bruises along the way. I have crashed and burned. I have questioned my ability to make it happen (though never the innate abilities that started me down the path to begin with).

I have felt stuck, and stale. I have felt like the trail I was barreling down had suddenly veered off to the side, and I was hacking through the overgrowth trying to find my way back to it.

AND, I have been blessed to experience what it’s like to be doing something that I feel tailor made for. I have been blessed to feel the energy that comes from being able to fully and authentically show up. I have been blessed and inspired to see life after life change as the result of the work people have done with me.

I have often been blessed to learn as much from my clients sessions as they do. I have been blessed with a platform to develop ideas that can change the world and then put them out there for people to pick up and use. I have been blessed by the opportunity to laugh and have fun every day.

It has been a wild ride. And one worth taking.

As I look toward the future, I see the next decade (and probably the rest of my life) focused on helping people create energized, impactful, heart-based lives.

I feel excited and honored to have you along for the ride. Thanks for joining me as we explore where that future will lead.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM Time for a career change? Start with The Occupational Adventure Guide

Feel more juice in your job – here’s how!

juicy orange slice

Let’s say you’ve lost a little bit o’ love for your current work. Maybe what once felt vibrant and energizing has grown stale, or maybe you’re on the wrong path altogether, .

Far too often when people’s careers start to get a little uninspired, they do one of two things. They either go into “grit your teeth and suck it up” mode (after all, work IS a four-letter word, right?), or they do a swan-dive out of the frying pan into the fire by making a knee-jerk job change, hoping they can leave that boredom, frustration, and lack of inspiration behind.

But what if you could take steps to add juice to your job, right now, right where you are? Today I’m kicking off a series of posts aimed at helping you do just that.

Below you’ll find several ideas for how to feel more energized in your work. We’ll take a deeper dive into several of them upcoming posts, so stay tuned.

How do you juice up your job? I’m glad you asked! Read on, oh intrepid job juicer…

(I have included links to the posts I wrote expanding each of the ideas below. You might also be interested in the complementary series, How to make your work more meaningful.)

Take the cumulative view

As you begin, remember the goal isn’t to make one broadly sweeping change that will make everything better. The goal is to juice up your job cumulatively, benefiting from the sum total effect of a bucketload of smaller changes.

Do an energy audit

First things first – hit the eject button on any broad-brush thinking and get a detailed picture of what is actually happening. No dissatisfaction happens at the broad-brush level. It’s the net effect of a bunch of smaller things, some negative, some positive.

Before you do anything else, take a look at your job and say, “What gives me energy here? What do I enjoy?” and “What drains my energy here? What do I dislike?” The more detailed your understanding of what’s actually happening, the more potential you have to make choices and changes that will energize your work.

[A good place to start is the post Energize your career with the Gain-to-Drain Ratio.]

Identify your energizers

This one will take some self-exploration, but it’s worth it! What are the underlying themes that tend to be present when you’re on fire? Put another way, why do you love what you love? When you feel most in your groove, what is it about what you’re doing that feels so energizing?

As you identify your energizers (for example, exploration and discovery is one of my big energizers), put them all in one place to create a tool that helps you recognize opportunities to bring more of what energizes you into the picture.

[Learn how to identify your energizers at Do you know what your energizers are?]

Change what you do

OK, time to get proactive. The first option is changing what you do. Is there anything that energizes you that you could do more of? Is there anything that drains you that you could do less of?

You’re not going to turn a toad into a unicorn here, but if you can even improve things by 10%, that’s…well, 10% – which is infinitely better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Or a toad, for that matter.

[More on how to approach this at How to energize your work by changing what you do]

Change how you do it

The next area of possibility is changing how you do things to align more closely with what feels energizing and natural for you. Even if the actual content of your work doesn’t change in the slightest, you might still be able to change how you approach it.

The classic example is turning a boring, repetitive task into a game, perhaps seeing how much faster you can get it done from one time to the next, or looking for ways to make it more efficient. Or if you realize you need more time with people than your job affords you, you could instigate “parallel play” time, maybe creating a regular time with a group of co-workers to go to a nearby coffee shop and work, each on your individual projects.

Make it an ongoing habit to constantly explore the question, “how can I approach this so I enjoy it more?”

[Read more on adding juice to your job by changing how you do it.]

Change why you do it

We human critters are wired to want to make a difference. And when it comes to juicing up your job, that’s good news. Spend some time exploring, “Why am I doing this? Who benefits? How?”

You might not discover quite unbeknownst to you that you’re saving the planet, but focusing on the benefits and positive impact of the work you do can help you get out of feeling like an isolated cog and help you see more meaning in your efforts.

[Read more about how a make-a-difference mindset energizes your job.]

Change your perspective

When things are feeling flat or downright unpleasant, it’s easy for what you don’t like to capture all your attention. And that’s nothing but a downward death spiral if you want to feel energized.

In this option, you don’t have to change a thing externally. All you need to do is pull that attention out of the gaping maw of negativity and direct it at the positive. Make it a regular habit to ask, “What’s good here? What am I enjoying?”

The more you consciously focus your attention on what’s good, the more good you experience, the more good you notice, and the less time you spend focusing on the unpleasant.

[Explore how to energize your work by changing your focus.]

Change your story

This one is huge. HUGE, I tell you!

Well, actually, it happens in about six inches of real estate, right between your ears. So perhaps it’s not that big. 😉 But what it lacks in physical size, it more than makes up for in impact.

Seriously, this is probably the most important gift you can give yourself. Learn to recognize your negative, limiting stories about what you’re experiencing, what the future holds, what someone’s actions mean, etc., and consciously shape them into more positive, enhancing stories.

Why is this so powerful? Because the life you see isn’t real. It’s all made up! You experience the world through the lens of your stories – your expectations and assumptions, the meanings you assign things, etc. Changing your story can turn an identical situation into a completely different experience.

[More on how changing your stories can energize your work.]

Find a vision

Another way to open up space and not feel so compressed and constricted is to put your current situation into a bigger picture context.

To expand your perspective, spend time exploring a big picture vision. In the next ten years, what do you want to accomplish in your career? What difference would you like to make? What inspires you?

Then put your current position in the context of that vision. How can you see it as a step in that direction, rather than a stuck and stale dead end? What steps can you start taking right now towards bringing that vision to life?

[Explore how to energize work with a big picture vision.]

[Read more about the benefits of having a vision.]

[Learn how to discover your vision.]

Energize your life

So far everything I have talked about has been work-related but, as I describe in the Wild About Work ecosystem, how you feel at work isn’t just about how you feel at work.

If you want to have as much space as possible to feel energized at work, energize your life as well. Take care of the basics – a healthy diet, exercise, etc. Make a concerted effort to do more of what energizes you in your non-work hours. Consume inspiring and uplifting media, rather than the standard toxic news fare.

You don’t leave the rest of life at the door when you show up for work. You are the same person on the job as you are when you go home. And that means the more energized you feel in life overall, the more energized you have the potential to feel at work.

Stay tuned for a deeper dive into these ideas in the days to come. And as you read the posts, approach them with this question in mind: “What one thing can I do this week to start juicing up my job?” Then do it. Then do it again.

Make juicing up your job an ongoing habit, whether you feel frustrated and stuck or engaged and inspired. The more you do, the more it shapes both your present and the future you live into.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

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