Quite a number of months ago I was fortunate to hear Ita Buttrose speak at another fabulous Business Chicks event. Ita shared many pearls of wisdom delivered in her typically humorous and engaging way. A question she posed struck me as being particularly important for us all to reflect on:
‘Are you doing what you would choose to be doing if you only had 6 months to live?’
To me what this question is really about is living ‘A passionate life’ (the title of Ita’s latest book) while we have the opportunity to live it. When it comes to my work life, my own answer to this question is a resounding yes with a major BUT. I’m one of the fortunate people in life who found my passion and purpose early in my career. I have always loved what I do and whenever asked if I would want to do something else if given the chance I have said no.
The BUT however relates to my desire to do so much more with the foundations I have already laid down. At the heart of my career satisfaction has always been the fact that I love people and get a great deal of satisfaction from influencing the strength of someone’s spirit and guiding them to reach their full potential. My work gives me the opportunity to do that every day but the way I do that now is very different to the way I have done that in the past. When I was an ‘in house’ HR Manager I did that by focusing on individual staff and the team as a whole. Fast forward seven years and I now do that not only through the businesses we work with but also through writing and speaking.
My observation however is that a lot of people struggle to know what they are passionate about, let alone align their work life with those passions. The most important first step is to understand ourselves before we try to come up with a solution – i.e. our ideal career path. The seven most important things you can do to find your passion and purpose are to:
- Observe how you feel; what makes you happy, what frustrates you, what makes you want to keep trying or to give more? What energizes you and what drains you?
- Take notice of what you notice; what are the things that get your attention, what things keep your attention and are easy to connect with?
- Recognise what you are good at; we are born with gifts and we develop talents along the way. Our preferences are often reflected in the strengths we develop so pay close attention to your achievements and what helped you to get there
- Understand your own definition of success; we all have a unique view of what it means to be successful – start by understanding what it means to you
- Be honest with yourself; while being delusional can act as a useful defense mechanism, it does nothing for our ability to live a passionate life including at work. Understand when you are kidding yourself and choose to own every aspect of who you are.
- Be open to possibilities; avoid ‘beiging out’ your passion by allowing limiting beliefs to cut you off before you even begin. As they say, dare to dream, and dream as big as it takes to get to the heart of your purpose in life.
- Give it a go; experience is a great teacher so if you aren’t sure give things a try. That doesn’t have to mean a full time job or change of career. Be creative about the opportunities you have to explore your options. One example may be through volunteering whether that is for a charity or your local community.