Career and Jobs

Follow Your Passion Really Is Good Advice: 3 Ways To Fuel Your Career

You’ve heard it before—that following your passion is a great way to succeed in your career—but is this really legitimate? Research says yes—for many reasons.

There’s some pushback on passion, of course. Some career gurus have questioned whether passion is enough to drive career success and others have questioned whether passion is just a pipedream and if perhaps it’s better to just be pragmatic about your chances of employment and wage security.

But passion turns out to be a great accelerant for your career. Evidence is published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, and the 11-year longitudinal study suggests when you tap into your passion, you’re more likely to take actions which drive your growth and success.

How To Know If You’ve Found Your Passion

You can determine whether you’ve hit upon your passion by tuning into your thoughts and your feelings.

Your Thoughts

In particular, when you are interested and curious about something and when you want to explore, learn more and take action, these are signals you’ve identified a passion. In addition, when you’re passionate about something, you may notice you’re naturally good at it or you find yourself investing time in it, which makes you better as well.

For example, you discover information about agile work methods, and you take the ideas to your team, where you become the resident expert and ultimately a leader in agile practices for your organization.

Your Feelings

You also know you’ve tapped into an area of passion when you feel energized by it. You get a sense of heightened emotion and vigor when you’re learning and contributing in your chosen area. And when you’re passionate, you’re likely to feel connected to a bigger picture—believing your efforts matter and link with your community.

You’re a tax accountant and you’re excited about the new ways you’ve found to apply a tax code and impact your clients or your company. Or you’re in HR and especially enthusiastic about the development program you’re rolling out for leaders and how it will positively affect their growth.

Passion can take many forms, but hallmarks of the experience are thoughts and feelings that give you a sense of dedication, immersion, energy and purpose.

Tapping Into Passion

Passion is fuel for career success because it drives key actions and behaviors. Here are a few things you can do to use your passion.

#1 – Express Professional Courage

People with passion tend to take risks in their chosen areas of interest. This can mean seeking knowledge in an area which is new to you—taking a class or looking for mentors in an effort to expand your awareness. It can also mean expressing professional courage by trying a new method in your job, advocating for a new idea in a meeting, volunteering for a project outside of your department or applying for another role or promotion. All of these are constructive ways to take risks and leverage the power of your passion.

#2 – Persist

According to the research, passion also helps you persist in the face of challenges. Career growth rarely happens on a straight, smooth course. It is much more likely to occur with fits and starts. You’ll take a job working for a great leader and then company re-organization may have you reporting to someone else. Or you’ll get a couple promotions, followed by a plateau.

With passion guiding you, it’s possible to persevere and stick with your interests despite ups and downs. You love your role in sales and despite setbacks, you stay the course and ultimately get the annual award for strongest sales in a down market, getting the attention of senior leadership and paving the way for your next opportunity.

#3 – Align Activities

Interestingly, when you engage in activities outside of work which bring you joy, you’ll be more likely to perceive greater fulfillment within your work as well. There is a documented spillover effect. So use your passion to motivate your volunteer or personal activities.

If you love engineering activities, volunteer to help with the pinewood derby in your community, or if you have strong environmental interests, get involved with your local community garden or watershed project.

One More Thing: Consider Your People

One of the reasons passion is so powerful is because it connects you with your people, and you are likely to feel happier when you also feel linked with your community. Statistically, people’s career and volunteer choices tend to be representative of their personalities, so when you take on activities within your area, you’ll be connecting with others who have similar interests, concerns and priorities—which in turn will energize you even more.

In Sum

Finding your passion doesn’t have to be hard. Just pay attention to what interests and energizes you. In addition, you don’t necessarily have to have a grand plan or a roadmap for your entire life. Just make the day-to-day and month-to-month choices which align with what you enjoy and what you do well.

How you spend your moments, is how you spend your life—so spend time on what you like, what you do well and activities which contribute to your community. These will add up to a life which brings you fulfillment and adds to others’ fulfilment as well.

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