The Difference Between a 'Job' and a 'Passion' – and How to Find Your Passion


There are three general approaches to work: having a job, having a career, and having a passion. I presume that most of us are looking for passions that can also equate to well-paying careers/jobs.

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Does finding your passion have to mean finding a million-dollar job? Not necessarily. Your nightmare job could be another person's passion, and vice versa. Finding your passion is a matter of what you value.

For instance, my mother-in-law is the world's most amazing nurse. She worked hard to become one, and she loves every day of her job. Despite the many downsides (constant re-certifications, the emotional toll it can take when patients don't make it, and the 12-15 hour shifts), nursing is her passion. But for me? Those things would be a nightmare.

So, how do you find your own passion? Start by taking these seven elements into consideration:

1. Self-Awareness

Get to know yourself. What are the best moments you've experienced at work that really made you love your job? What is it that you value enough to leave your job for? Are you among the 49 percent of employees who feel the need to leave their employers when they're ready for a promotion? Are you part of the 27 percent of employees who would quit a job for a position offering creative freedom?

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Knowing what you value will prevent you from wasting time on jobs you shouldn't even bother with and point you in the direction of positions you should strive for. If you find it difficult to assess your values, take a career-matching assessment to closely define your personal and professional values. They say you can't manage what you don't measure, and that definitely applies to your career.

2. Challenging Work

If you're stuck performing the same tasks every day, your job will go stale – and fast. Giving yourself a challenge every once in a while, on the other hand, can add some much-needed space to your daily grind.

Set goals for yourself (or among your coworkers, if you're the competitive type); ask to take on tasks in a department you've never worked in (you might find passion in untouched territories!); ask your boss if you can start a special project that might give you the chance to use some of your untapped skills; or gather some reading materials on your current position to see if there's something you could be doing differently to be a more efficient worker.

Whatever it is you need to do to challenge yourself, you'll likely be surprised by the results it produces in terms of your passion. If you find yourself hating something you once loved, try conquering something you didn't think you could when you first started the position.

3. Environmental Variety

This element may require some creativity, depending on the restrictions you may face in your role. For example, if your job is pretty stationary, try working on an exercise ball, from the lunch room, or outdoors if the option is available to you.

You don't have to overexert yourself to bring some feng shui to the workplace. Simply cleaning off your desk and bringing order to your workspace could be enough to cleanse your mind. Just having a small plant on your desk can boost your productivity by 15 percent. Anything you do to break out of your environmental norms can help freshen your perspective.

Maybe finding a new place to work in will spark innovative thoughts and inspire new ideas. At Red Branch Media, we change desks every month or so, and it always gets our creative juices flowing.

4. A Positive Attitude

It's hard to be optimistic if you allow every obstacle you come across to make you angry. And sure, I could just tell you to become an optimist, but that's hard to do when you're feeling depressed or frustrated at work.

Flipping the switch that allows you to reframe these daily hassles as learning experiences is difficult, but adopting a more positive perspective will have great results. Remember that life is never going to be perfect, and getting upset by setbacks won't change that.

Don't dwell on obstacles. Instead, work with them and learn from them. Think rationally, act mindfully, and see challenging situations for what they are: challenges that give you the opportunity to stretch yourself.

5. Providing Yourself With Options

The "keeping your options open" mindset can keep you from giving into anxiety-driven "the grass is definitely greener on the other side" thinking. Instead of feeling stuck, keep your options open by doing the following:

Frequently update your resume.

Keep a list of accumulating accomplishments and achievements.

Sign up for a job board newsletter or app that will notify you of new jobs in fields that interest you.

Sometimes this emergency kit is all you need to combat the anxiety of feeling stuck at your job.

6. Maintaining Balance

Job commitment is attractive to employers, and now that our smartphones and mobile devices allow us to receive emails at all hours of the day, it's very easy for us to always be "on." Is this okay? Some days, you need to answer that emergency email at 7 PM, but it's dangerous and unhealthy to do this on a regular basis.

Set parameters for yourself. What circumstances call for that late-night email response, and which fires can wait for the morning? There are endless benefits of working from home, including boosted productivity (reported by 86 percent of those who work from), higher efficiency (30 percent), and lower stress levels (82 percent). All of these factors give us rose-colored glasses that allow us to ignore the cons of working from home.

Keep your sanity. Clock your eight hours, take a 30, and respond only to absolute emergencies after hours. Set your parameters and stick to them to maintain that work-life balance everyone's all hyped about.

7. A Sense of Purpose

Twenty-eight percent of workers derive their sense of purpose from work, so you'd best make it count. Think about your company's mission. Most of the time, it's to help others do something easier, faster, more efficiently, etc. What do you love about that mission? If you don't love your company's bottom line, you might need to start job hunting. In the past, we have had a lot of skilled, smart, talented people on staff at Red Branch Media who just weren't that into B2B marketing. That's okay!

Half of your workplace passion comes from the company and its values, and the other half comes from you finding your own values and leveraging your skills and passions for the company's goals. Find your passion, cater to it, and make sure you have a job that channels that passion.

Maren Hogan is the chief marketing brain at Red Branch Media.