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

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