10th Feb 2011
Find Your Passion At Work! (Just Don’t Expect to Feel Passionate About It When You Do)
One of the reasons I left consultancy is because I felt that the work was meaningless. In meetings I would try not to fall asleep as people droned on about project dependencies and stakeholder management and at the weekend all I did was dread Mondays.
It wasn’t unpleasant exactly, it was the lack of something that bothered me. I wanted to feel passion and meaning at work, instead I experienced a sense that I did not care about the low hanging fruit as much as other people seemed to.
Now, many years later, I have created a working life which I do feel passionate about. Some nights I have to force myself to go to bed – like a child on Christmas day – because that will make the next day come faster. Some days I work with a client and it will hit me: I love this.
So for all the people who write about finding your passion at work: good for you. It is possible. It is necessary. Well done!
But your books are still at best horribly misleading and at worst, dangerous…
The thing about passion at work is that it is rarely characterised by feelings of passion. It is, if anything, characterised by feelings of anxiety and doubt, particularly in the early days. For me those years were filled with thoughts about whether this was really the right thing, whether I could do it, whether I was falling behind my peers.
Even today those moments where I feel passionate about what I do are rare and fleeting. Working with people who are stuck can be draining and usually I am assailed by doubts about my own ability to help, my mind telling me what a terrible psychologist I am. Plus it can be very painful working with people who are themselves in pain.
Is this what I left consultancy to find? Is this really passion at work?
Well, yes. I am truly passionate about what I do and I am so thankful that I get to do it (well, most days).
But if I had not been show how to grow more willing to respond flexibly to painful thoughts and emotions, then I would have never have reached where I am now.
In short, if I had defined passion as feelings of passion then the journey would have stopped long, long ago.