Follow your passion – what makes you itch?

People are often advised to pursue a career based off of the eternal question: “What would you do if money was no object?” It should be no more complicated than this. However, enter: social expectations, pressures from family, practicality, worrying about money, status, people’s judgments etc. and this “dream” becomes a much more complex issue that can create an entire lifetime of inner conflict and dissatisfaction. Many people are guided into careers involuntarily because it is what “they should do” or “are supposed to do”.  Moreover, people never consider, or are even aware that a 9-5 is not a prerequisite for a successful life. Ever been in a situation where someone asks: “Hey man, what do you do?”, and the robotic, dial tone response tends to read: “I’m a banker/accountant/lawyer/electrician/metalworker”. In this sense, the span of a person’s entire existence has been condensed into a conception of themselves as someone fulfilling a career pathway. It’s a product of modern society that a person’s sense of identity and even self-worth are derived from what specific “job” they perform and the perceived level of extrinsic benefits that it provides (money/status).

In many formal education systems,  a responsible career or profession is the logical outcome of 13 + years of formal education.  Skills and knowledge are learned and developed so that one day they can be marketed to a potential employer, who may in turn offer a 40+ year opportunity to work and achieve financial independence. This is one of the general parameters for a “responsible” and “productive” life.

With job dissatisfaction and employee turnover at record high levels, many career-seekers are finding that fulfillment and an underlying satisfaction in what they do still remain elusive despite upgrades to their corporate stature. Many experience feelings of being jaded, disinterested, or even depressed at the prospect that this “path to greater prosperity” has not brought them happiness.

People often try and fill this void by looking for a new and better job, or striving for a promotion that will increase their feeling of accomplishment. “If only I could have that position/title/paygrade, then I’d be happy.” The obvious fallacy with this pattern of thinking is that the individual has only drifted further from their core sense of purpose, and has attempted to fill it with extrinsic benefits that only provide a temporary feeling of fulfillment.

When a person aligns their professional objectives with what really gets them excited in lifeCa, they begin to leverage their own unique skills and talents to achieve something truly incredible. Fear is such a powerful factor that holds people captive from their dreams. Fear of rejection, fear of judgment, fear of humiliation, fear of failure, fear that what they dream of doing isn’t “sensible” or “stable”. It takes a lot of guts to stray from the traditional route, but it is those people that achieve the ultimate reward from their careers: happiness.

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