I talk a lot about pursuing your passion – finding out what you really want, and then going for it.
Of course, that is much easier said than done. Oftentimes, we associate finding our passion with doing what we love for work. However, that is not always going to be the case. Passions come in all different shapes and sizes, and living out our passions will mean something different to every individual.
Here’s why we generally make the work-passion association.
A whopping 80% of our waking moments are dedicated to our work – take the commute if you’ve got one, the work, the lunch hour (or half hour) if you’re away from home / family – and that isn’t even counting the mental energy we spend after hours, stressing over or being utterly exhausted from the day’s tasks. If we are dedicating that much time and we claim to have some supposed passion for something, we should naturally then be doing what we love. And if we are not, then that should be the goal.
Generally, what we do for work – whether we love it or not – is an integral part of ourselves. It’s how we sustain, how we pay the bills, how we afford a social life, how we spend our time. Because of all that, should we not try to find something we love and do that for a living? Or, are we just trying to make ends meet? Should we be working to live? Or living to work? Should we find something that will simply get us by, or is it better to be passionate about what we do? How much should work really be a part of us? Should it be that dreadful (or enjoyable) 80%, or should we do what we do for “work” for only 20% or 5% of our awake time?
To make matters even more complicated, the answers to those questions aren’t always ones made by choice. Oftentimes, perhaps for most people, the answer is dictated by our situation, by our environment, things out of our hands. Then, therefore, work does not equal our passion, and passion does not equal our work. And that is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong.
Yet, we are consistently almost trivialized, minimized to be defined by what we do for work. “What do you do?”
It is not out of angst or rudeness or shaming that we “trivialize” someone so nonchalantly. We aren’t even aware that we are doing it or that it is being done to us. That question and our answer are simply owed to the fact that, typically, people work for a living. “What do you do?” makes sense. “Normal” people don’t sit on the beach in Bora Bora every day of their lives, wearing a $300 bathing suit, adorned with fine jewelry, chilled tropical drink in hand, and say that’s what they “do.” No, most people fantasize about that picturesque lifestyle while doing something else, while doing their job.
What we do for work is everywhere. It’s on our dating profiles, our Facebook About Me, on our Instagram accounts; it is EVERY. WHERE., and we have LinkedIn to answer the question on autopilot. When asked to introduce ourselves, the standard response provides our name and what we do for work – whether it’s a part time job, professional career, or booming business – and we then carry on to the next person. Only if asked to state something “interesting” about ourselves do we admit to being a father or football coach or writer, something “on the side.” We aren’t that though, we are the name and associated job.
“Work,” much like “success,” as it’s commonly used, is quite the enigmatic word. If you’re getting paid, it’s probably work, but it could feel so enjoyable that you hardly think of what you do as “work.” In general, it’s usually what we do in order to provide ourselves with the monetary resources we want and / or need in order to pay for the things we want and / or need to pay for. At least, that is the typical goal.
Beyond that though, there are three types of work. One may have a job, a career, or a calling.
According to our friend, Mr. Merriam-Webster, a “job” is “a regular remunerative position.”
A “career” is “a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life;” and “a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.”
A “calling,” not to be confused with the above, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence;” or “the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages.”
Just for kicks… a “calling” is also “the characteristic cry of a female cat in heat.” As that’s probably not useful here, we can stick to the above.
Now, let’s reconcile the work-passion relationship.
Firstly, what is passion?
“Passion” is “intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction;” and “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.”
You can begin to see how someone with a calling may have passion for their work – these are actors, singers, artists, and the like, who are dedicated to their craft. The line between work and passion is blurred.
For most though, and because work is so consuming of our time and energy, it’s perhaps all too common to fantasize of the “perfect” job, or the perfect career, that would allow us to perform minimal actual “work,” while maximizing our happiness potential. Or, better yet, do work we that do love and are passionate about so that it becomes the source of that ever-evasive happiness.
The work-passion association is perhaps reminiscent of the American dream. You can do anything you want to in life, you can achieve great successes, you can pursue your dreams. It’s not just about working to put food on the table; it’s joyfully providing for your family, traveling the world at a moment’s notice, picturesque vacations, magnificent homescapes, children laughing and holding hands. It is the Hallmark moments we long for. It is the inevitably un-achievable monument of success. We strive so hard to meet the end goal that we will invariably do anything to get there – whether we hate it or love it. The work-passion association is simply the underlying belief that if we will spend a lifetime working towards our dreams, perhaps we should find something worthwhile, something we are passionate about.
All too often, however, we become consumed by our desire that even passions turn to demons that rob us of the very happiness we sought to achieve. It’s no longer the end goal that matters, it’s the procurement of riches, the obsession over money that begins to drive us. More money, more things to show how far we’ve come, to show how close we are to the dream. The dream itself fades, overshadowed by new pursuits.
We forget our passions to get-rich-quick schemes, shortcuts to the dream. Money will buy us the dream, so the faster we get paid, the faster we realize our goals. We settle for something mediocre that claims will get us there in half the time.
But when money itself is the motivator, plans are bound to fail. Sure, one could be motivated to simply put food on the table, and that does require money. But the motivation is not the money itself; it is the desire to survive, the desire to provide for family that moves us.
Money is fleeting, money is a physical exchange.
As we pursue the American dream, the work-passion promise, let us not get swallowed up by our advancements and progressive achievements – particularly, those monetarily baked prizes. Rather, let us celebrate each milestone as we so deserve, but always be reminded of our goals and our passions – whether it is to provide the basics, to travel the world, or to live our dreams through our work.