How to use your life story to influence your work, and not only the other way around?
Many think pursuing passions is an elusive dream that won’t be realized. When searching for examples, it often feels like only a select few in this world are able to find jobs they truly love.
Despite what appears to be limited examples, there is one trait amongst them all, and that is passion! And it can be discovered and transformed into a fulfilling career, you just need to know how to look for it and what to do when once you find it.
Start with your past.
Most of our daily thoughts, actions and interactions is based on past experiences, and over a lifetime, experiences define a belief system which determines how to approach our careers, relationships, stress and everything else. This is the starting point, but to discover true passion we must dig deeper, and that can be a little scary for some, but don’t be.
Where exactly does passion come from?
Everyone knows and has felt what passion is, but ask them to explain where it comes from, and it can be quite difficult. Beliefs are often formed from emotional experiences throughout our lives. When experiencing major moments of joy, sadness, anger or fear, the mind often stores these important events and refers back to them. It does this to either keep us away or draw us closer to similar experiences in the future. Passions, are often directly correlated to these kinds of moments. Because they directly connect to our lives it’s the reason we feel passionately about them.
Everyone’s passions are fuelled by emotional motivation.
Either a positive or negative emotional experience will influence our calling in life. Whether or not this experience has happened yet, will determine if you need to discover your passion or create it. The following 3 steps will assist guide you through this process:
- Understand how positive and negative experiences can drive you
People driven by positive emotional motivation do so because of their desire to share. A life experience, whether it be a person, place, product or event; had such a profound positive impact they experienced the amazing benefits of it first-hand. When they find work or a career that aligns with this passion, they are drawn to and motivated by the opportunity to impact others in the same way. It’s not about selling a product to a customer to them, but about delivering a beneficial experience.
People driven by negative motivation do so because of their desire to create change. The negative experience they suffered felt so difficult, unjust or limiting they want to stop others from having to experience it. They get drawn to a cause that has negatively affected their life and want to make a difference in improving it for others.
- Determine significant experiences in your life
Creativity can scare people, as often it’s referred to artistic endeavours such as painting, writing etc., and if you’re not artistic, it can leave have you feeling less than confident. But discovering your passion requires you to be creative in how you connect past emotional experiences with your interests. Steve Jobs sums up creativity perfectly –
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”
If you can’t think of one instantly, don’t worry. Write and list anything that comes to mind, and as you go forward, return to your list, and try and add to it when you can i.e. once a fortnight. By doing this you keep the process in the front your mind and place yourself in a position to easily connect your experiences into passions.
- Activate your passion into a career
Having dug deep and found what fires you up, the final step is explore and translate it into a career or create a career path. This can be quite difficult, but its important to remember to keep positive and realise that it may take some constant evaluation and time to find it. To help the process here are some tips that will help with the process.
Dream: Sounds weird, but as Stephen King put it “people who don’t dream, who don’t have any kind of imaginative life, they must… they must go nuts. I can’t imagine that.” Once you’ve found something you love, don’t lose sight of it. For instance, you may like music, however you can’t necessarily sing, and won’t pursue it as a career because you don’t think you can be a rock star. Don’t despair, if you explore that field of work on a broad enough scale, you will be able to discover other related opportunities, such as working for a radio station or record label.
Customer service, innovation & entrepreneurship: Passion can strike anytime and anywhere. It can be a something that makes your hair stand on end with excitement, or blood boil in anger and frustration which gets you emotionally invested. For example the founder of Uber saw an opportunity to do something better, Quiksilver and Rip Curl founders started making specialty board shorts from their garage through their love for surfing. Always keep an eye out for opportunities.
Contribution: When passion and a career form together, it’s more often about the effect on others or a situation, and not about money. The feeling of gratitude and sense of making something better for others is a big enough reward. That’s not to say you can’t make money, but the money making aspect becomes secondary to the larger contribution and impact you are making in others lives.
You will have found your calling when your life story influences your work, and not only the other way around.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Aaron Tenabel is the owner and founder of Stride Life Coaching. An ex professional swimmer and elite coach, Aaron now uses those experiences and skills to specialise coaching individuals wanting to improve their health, achieve work life balance, and find greater purpose, fulfilment and authenticity in their career. Aaron also specialises in working with professional athletes, wanting to find passions outside their chosen sport, and help develop, empower and plan for their life post career.