Did you know that people spend the majority of their lives at work? We spend approximately 30% of our lives working. We should be spending about another 30% of our lives sleeping for the sake of our health, which leaves only 40% of our lives to travel, pursue hobbies, enjoy the company of good friends and keep up on other day-to-day tasks like laundry, bills and changing the car’s oil. 

Spelled out like that, it becomes clear that work consumes a major chunk of our waking hours. And when our job is working somewhere or doing something we simply can’t stand, the result is likely a pretty poor quality of life.  

So, is that it? Does getting a “real job” mean that all our dreams and aspirations for our life get pushed to the wayside, never to be picked up again? 

Absolutely not. 

Each of us was created and put on this Earth with a unique purpose in mind, a purpose prompted by our passions and fueled by our talents. It is this particular purpose – this life-giving spark – guiding us towards not just any old job, but to a career rooted in passion and joy. 

Not all desires were created equal 

While your friend might think math is the greatest thing on this earth, you might prefer art, history, language or other subjects for the same reason. That’s ok! We don’t all need to love the same things, or want to do the same things. In fact, it’s better that we don’t, otherwise we’d have nothing to talk about over dinner and application processes would be insanely competitive. 

What’s my passion?

Some people know from the moment they’re born what they want to be “when they grow up.” From day one, they know they want to be a doctor or a nurse, so they begin taking the steps to reach that goal, whether by volunteering at a nursing home, taking college level courses to get a jump on biology prerequisites or making the necessary connections over time to compile a strong list of references.

But that’s not how it goes for everyone, and some of us need to spend a little bit longer trekking down a less straightforward path to discover our passions. 

Where do I start? 

It might be helpful to begin by contemplating activities you enjoy – whether they’re related to a job or not. Take the time to write down these activities without editing or revising. Brainstorm freely! 

These activities could be things like gardening, cooking or organizing. Do you like working with cars or computers and their complicated electrical systems? Do you spend most of your free time outside? What passion did you pursue as a child – did you live at the dance studio, the soccer field or the theater auditorium? Do you enjoy working in a team, or is your best work done when you’re left to your own creative genius? Are you more inclined to be creative or technical? Do you like to design or put things together to make something unique and beautiful? 

Of course, you don’t have to answer every single one of these questions, they’re only meant to stimulate your brain. Your list is likely to look completely personalized to you – which is exactly what you want, because you’re finding a career for you, not for your neighbor.

From passion to permanent vocation 

The point of journaling out a list of passions, of things which bring you joy or activities that are life-giving versus life-draining, can be a vital springboard for discovering the best method of turning your passion into your job. 

If you spent most of your high school days living in the theater department, but becoming an Oscar-winning actor just isn’t going to happen, brainstorm other places you can put that love for theater to use: consider a position at a stage theater in the box office, ushering or as a retail clerk. Lovers of the outdoors can look into working for a local parks and recreation department, a landscaping company or a botanical garden. If you love books and all things literature, consider employment at a local bookstore or library. And an event venue, amusement park or sports arena allows those with a heart for hospitality to tap into their gifts in an exciting environment.

One size does not fit all 

Working in a corporate office or behind a counter just isn’t for everyone, and that’s more than alright. If you’re unsatisfied in your career or aren’t sure the best route to take to find a career in which you will be satisfied, take the time to discover your wants, desires and passions. Once you pinpoint those, brainstorm jobs that incorporate the things you love. Even though it might take time to get there, the most mundane jobs will offer purpose if they’re viewed as a rung on the ladder toward your ideal career. 

If you need help navigating the career world, contact Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP for valuable life coaching and career counseling through your employer. Reach out today to consider employee assistance programming for your company, or call for personalized advice and counseling at 1-800-543-5080 to get started. 

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