“Do what you love.” This is what we’re always told, yet few of us are lucky enough to be able to work in a field that truly inspires and excites us.
For many, their passion is something they pursue outside of work.
But does it need to be like this?
Why can’t we combine the two, and have work be the thing that ignites a fire in our hearts?
Unfortunately, there are many reasons for why we separate work and our passions so.
Let’s see what they are.
We don’t know what our passion is
The sad fact is that most of us don’t actually know what it is that we really want to do with our lives.
When it comes time to start our journey into our careers by picking what to study, we don’t know what it is that really gets us going.
In fact, many people reach their 40s, 50s, 60s and still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.
We’re too focused on the end-point
How many of us choose a field of study based on the career, and paycheck, it guarantees us?
Many people, for instance, choose to study Computer Science or IT because it’s the industry these days – graduates are snapped up by companies as soon as they’re finished their studies.
More still go into some form of Business course, fixated on the goal of making money when they’re done.
We simply don’t pay enough attention to what it is that we actually want to do.
Our dreams won’t make us money
Following on from the previous point, for many of us our dreams just won’t make us enough money.
Artists, writers, poets – plenty of people are not able to truly pursue the career that they are passionate about because there’s no money in it.
Instead, we go on to study something else and work in an office and don’t look at what we can do to fuel our passion.
Why try to combine your work and passion?
So what’s the problem? Why does it matter? That’s just the way it is, right? Work isn’t for us to enjoy; it’s what we do so we can afford to do what we enjoy.
My point is: it doesn’t have to be like that. Making a change here could have many positive effects.
We spend most of our waking lives at work
If we wake up at 06:00 and go to bed at 22:00, that’s 16 hours we’re awake.
Over half of that is spent at work and travelling to and from work.
With us spending so much time there, surely it makes sense for it to be something we enjoy? Spending 8 hours doing something soul-crushingly boring isn’t healthy.
We work better if we’re happy
Working on something you’re passionate about is easier than working on something you couldn’t care less about.
You’ll work faster, enjoy it more and, more than likely, produce better results if your job is something you are passionate about.
And, in this capitalist world, we’re all about productive workers.
How can I find my passion?
This is the billion dollar question.
Some people can go their whole lives without ever finding out what their passion is.
Others are lucky enough to find it young and get stuck in immediately.
Others sit in the middle, and maybe start studying one thing only to change partway through.
Travel (if you can afford it)
They say travel broadens the mind, if you’ll pardon the cliche. For some people, travelling the world does give them a chance to find out more about who they are as a person and what might be the best field for them to go into.
If you jump straight into studying after Matric, there’s a good chance you won’t know yet what your passion really is.
So, if you can afford to (and very few of us can), take some time to travel and find out what’s right for you.
Take some time out to volunteer for a cause that interests you.
Look after small children, play with puppies, work in disadvantaged communities – even if the cause itself is not something you can see yourself going further in, you may find out what you’d like to be doing with your life.
Sit down and think.
If you’ve been working for a while, there’s a good chance you already know what you want to be doing, deep down.
Deep deep down.
What do you find yourself think about doing? What do you read about avidly in your spare time?
Maybe you secretly really enjoy writing – try find some way to break into that world.
Plan your degree
If you’re only just starting to study towards a degree, don’t allow yourself to lock in too early.
When I started at university, studying Computer Science, I took a course in Philosophy just for fun.
I followed it up with a course in Ancient Roman History and worked out that I’d much rather be studying English Literature.
Point is, you should take at least one course from outside your degree. Open yourself up to as many different options as you can.
Better to find out in first year that you hate Actuarial Science and want to study Mandarin instead than in your third year.
I can’t tell you what your passion is.
It’s highly unlikely that anyone can. What your passion is is something that only you know…even if you don’t know it yet.
So if you’re stuck in a degree or a job that you don’t care for, take a step back and ask yourself: “What am I passionate about?”
Written By – Conor Engelbrecht