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Finding Your Passion in Your Career

Picture this: You wake up every morning, dreading the thought of another day at a job that drains your energy. Your work feels meaningless, and the thought of spending years in this role fills you with anxiety—or perhaps you’ve reached the point of feeling nothing at all. You know there’s something more out there for you, something that lights a fire within. Yet, finding that “dream career” feels like chasing a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—always out of reach.

 

Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many of us find ourselves stuck in roles that don’t align with our passions, feeling disheartened and unfulfilled. Why? Because the thing that dream jobs and rainbows have in common is—they are both illusions! Discovering your dream career isn’t about stumbling upon a magical job. If it were that simple, we would all be happily settled in our perfect careers, and let’s face it, I’d be out of a job. Yet, according to a 2023 Gallup poll, only 34% of employees in the U.S. are engaged in their work, leaving the majority feeling disconnected and dissatisfied in their roles.

 

Instead, it’s about curating a series of diverse career experiences that bring you joy and fulfillment. The key word here is ‘curating.’ While it’s not unheard of to stumble into a passion unexpectedly, your dream career requires intentional effort to build. It doesn’t just happen. Many of us were taught that we had to pick a single purpose and passion to pursue upon graduation, leading to a narrow and often misguided career path. This traditional approach overlooks the dynamic nature of our evolving interests and strengths, causing us to miss out on diverse opportunities that could truly ignite our passion.

 

It perpetuates the notion of a singular rigid path, reinforcing that there is only one ‘dream’ role available to us, and if we don’t find it, we’re condemned to suffer through our careers. The truth is, our careers are fluid, and they need to be because today’s marketplace doesn’t afford us the same luxuries as past generations. Decades ago, it was common for people to spend their entire careers at one company, climbing the corporate ladder from entry-level to retirement. This is no longer the norm. Today, the average person changes jobs 12 times in their lifetime, reflecting a shift towards a more dynamic and flexible career trajectory.

 

Understanding this shift is the first step towards finding your passion and identifying your dream career. In this article, we’ll explore practical strategies to help you navigate this journey with confidence and clarity.

Understanding Passion & Career Alignment

Passion, derived from the Latin word “passio,” meaning strong emotion or desire, is more than just a buzzword. It’s the powerful force that propels you toward a sense of fulfillment and success on your own terms. It’s not just about enjoying what you do but about finding deeper meaning and satisfaction in your work. When your career aligns with your passions, it fuels your motivation and enthusiasm, making work feel less like a chore and more like a calling.

 

Think about it: When you’re passionate about your work, you’re more engaged, productive, and happy. This isn’t just feel-good talk; it’s backed by research. A study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that people passionate about their work experience higher levels of job satisfaction and psychological well-being. Similarly, a report from the Journal of Positive Psychology highlights that employees who are passionate about their work report higher levels of engagement and better mental health outcomes.

 

Achieving this passion-driven fulfillment is all about career alignment. When your job resonates with your personal values, interests, and strengths, it creates an environment where passion can flourish. These elements are the foundation for helping you find work that is not just a paycheck but a source of genuine fulfillment. Research by Wrzesniewski et al. (1997) shows that individuals with aligned careers experience greater job satisfaction and well-being.

 

By now, you should be starting to see that pursuing career alignment isn’t just about having a fulfilling and passion-driven career; it’s essential for your health and well-being. Some might even say it’s a matter of life or death given health is wealth. Career alignment also provides practical benefits in today’s dynamic job market. It fosters agility and adaptability, essential traits in a world where the days of spending an entire career at one company are long gone. Aligning your career with your evolving passions and strengths allows you to thrive despite the constant changes in the professional landscape.

 

By embracing this concept of alignment, you can navigate your career as a fluid journey, continuously adapting and seeking new opportunities that resonate with you. This shift in perspective helps you stay motivated and fulfilled, opening pathways to roles that truly ignite your passion and enable you to reach your full potential.

 

Okay, enough chit-chat – let’s get into action!

Steps to Create Your Dream Aligned Career

Self-Reflection and Assessment

  • Conduct a Self-Assessment
    Start by assessing your interests, strengths, and values. Some great tools to help you are:
  • VIA Character Strengths Survey: Identifies your core strengths and how to apply them in your career.
  • O*NET Interest Profiler: Helps you identify your interests and how they relate to different careers.


Reflective Questions:

  • What activities make you lose track of time?
  • What subjects do you love learning about?
  • When do you feel most energized and fulfilled?


Often, the answers to our biggest career questions lie within us (actually, that’s usually where X marks the spot). Introspection—examining your thoughts, feelings, and motivations—is key. Techniques like journaling, mindfulness, and visualization can help you uncover your true passions.


Explore Different Career Options

  • Research Potential Careers
    Use resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*NET to explore various career options. Look for job descriptions, required skills, and potential career paths that resonate with you.
  • Conduct Informational Interviews
    Reach out to professionals in fields you’re interested in. Informational interviews provide firsthand insights into different careers and help you understand what a typical day looks like in those roles. It’s also a great way to grow your network! 

 

Gain Experience

  • Volunteer or Intern
    Volunteering or interning in your field of interest allows you to gain practical experience and determine if it’s the right fit for you. It also helps you build a network of contacts in the industry.
  • Take Online Courses
    Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer courses that can help you develop skills relevant to your desired career.

 

Seek Guidance from a Mentor
A mentor can provide valuable advice, support, and insights based on their own experiences. Look for mentors in your network or through professional organizations related to your field of interest.

 

Evaluate and Reflect

  • Assess Your Experiences
    Regularly evaluate your experiences to see if they align with your passions and goals. Ask yourself:
    • Did I enjoy this work?
    • Did it make use of my strengths?
    • Does it align with my long-term career goals?

 

Adjust Your Path as Needed
Remember, creating your aligned career is a journey. It’s okay to adjust your path based on new experiences and insights. Flexibility is key to ensuring that your career evolves with your interests and passions.

 

So let’s recap, shall we?

Creating an aligned career isn’t just a lofty ideal—it’s essential for your well-being and fulfillment. By now, you understand that this journey requires introspection, exploration, and flexibility. It’s about finding what excites you and aligning your work with your true self.

 

Remember, the journey itself holds immense value. Embrace it with curiosity and an open heart. Each step you take is a step closer to a career that not only pays the bills but also leads to a life beyond the ordinary.

 

Ready to take the first step towards an aligned career? Start by diving into self-assessment to uncover your interests and strengths. Reach out to professionals in fields that intrigue you and seek guidance from mentors who can illuminate your path (yes, that includes me too). Your aligned career is within reach, and each action you take propels you closer to a fulfilling professional life.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Start today. Take action, explore, and let your passion guide you. Your future self will thank you for embarking on this journey towards a more satisfying and aligned career path.

 

References
Gallup. (2023). State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace.aspx

Wrzesniewski, A., McCauley, C., Rozin, P., & Schwartz, B. (1997). Jobs, careers, and callings: People’s relations to their work. Journal of Research in Personality, 31(1), 21-33. https://doi.org/10.1006/jrpe.1997.2162

Vallerand, R. J., Blanchard, C. M., Mageau, G. A., Koestner, R., Ratelle, C., Léonard, M., … & Marsolais, J. (2003). Les passions de l’ame: On obsessive and harmonious passion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(4), 756. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.85.4.756

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.5

U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. (n.d.). ONET OnLine*. Retrieved from https://www.onetonline.org

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