I am convinced that the happiest and most fulfilled workers are those who have found a way to engage their passions and gifts together in their work and life. Conversely, the most unsatisfied workers are those who feel stuck in a job for which they have no passion and/or for which they are not particularly gifted. As a result of this conviction, I encourage people to take a great deal of time for self-reflection to determine what they are really passionate about and what they are really gifted at doing. I then encourage them to find ways to draw these two things together in a vocation.
The reality is that we can’t always marry these two elements together in our vocation. The things we at which we are gifted, the things that we do so well that others are willing to pay us for them, are not always the things about which we are most passionate. Sometimes, the things about which we are most passionate offer little to no opportunity for income or wealth. Consider the individual who loves to spend money on community service. How can he fulfill this passion without money and the ability to pay bills and provide for the family? It might be a little difficult.
However, the problem isn’t always an issue of whether one can make money while fulfilling their passion. The problem may actually be one of opportunity or circumstance. Let’s face it, as much as we taut the virtue of “do what you love” not everybody can and not everybody should. Circumstance and need often dictate that people do things for a living that they don’t find satisfying because they are not passionate about it.
My answer to this dilemma is a change of perspective. I want us to ask ourselves the important question, “How can my vocation, be a platform for my passion?” In other words, in what ways does the job I hold create opportunity for me to do the things I love. Perhaps your job gives you work/life balance such that you have time to pursue your passions away from work. Perhaps your job puts you into contact with people you wouldn’t normally interact with, and that contact creates indirect avenues for spending your passions. Maybe your vocation affords you the type of wealth you need to do the things you love doing. It might even be that your vocation makes it possible for your voice to be heard in places that it might not otherwise be heard.
There are likely lots of potential examples of work being a platform for the exercise of passion in indirect or creative ways. I want us to look for them right where we are today. I’m assuming that our greatest passions are outward focused and geared toward others, and as such, I truly believe that every vocation offers a platform for fulfilling those passions directly or indirectly. Finding satisfaction in your vocation may not require a job change, rather it may require a perspective change.
I would love to get your reactions to this article. How has or can this perspective change create satisfaction for you in your workplace? What creative ways have you found to marry your gifts with your passions?