An article by Forbes
When you do what you love, you get into a state called “flow.” Flow is a concept identified by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that describes a state of mind in which you can lose yourself in what you’re doing. Time seems to speed up. When you do what you love, it’s easier to achieve “flow,” which leads to greater productivity, which in turn enhances your value to the organization. Taking a new position that pays the same—or even somewhat less—but offers a deeper connection to your passions, a better culture fit and improves your overall quality of life should definitely be considered a career advancement. Your compensation package is not the sole measure of whether you’re moving forward in your career.
Not sure what you love? Here are ways to get some clarity:
Try new things. Jordan Friedman was happily pursuing a career in communication (his major at the University of Maryland) when he took an elective course in stress management. That course changed his life. He pursued a graduate degree in Public Health at NYU and began building a career in wellness. He’s now the CEO of The Stress Coach after launching his personal brand at Columbia University as the director of health education. Diverging from his initial path in communication, he’s never worked a day, thanks to his willingness to try something new.
Pay attention. When you can take off the blinders or at least widen your field of vision, you can start seeing important messages—messages that can have a major impact on your career. William Arruda, writer for Forbes claims, “I was really, really happy in my role in corporate branding for Lotus/IBM and thought my career would remain on that track. That was until I saw the copy of Fast Company magazine sitting on my assistant’s desk. The cover story image and the bold title—The Brand Called You—spoke to me. I read Tom Peters’ article, put the magazine down and decided I would leave my corporate job to start a personal branding company. I’m not sure where I’d be right now if I hadn’t seen that magazine.”
Be willing to let go.Gretchen Rubin, now a global bestselling author who has sold millions of books, was on the fast track to be a wildly successful attorney. She went to Yale Law School and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She had the perfect pedigree. To the outside world, she seemed to have it all. The only problem? She wasn’t happy being a lawyer. She was courageous enough to leave all that behind to pursue a career as an author. Today, she has a worldwide following, hosts a popular podcast and continues pumping out inspiring books. She dared to leave all that formal education and prestige behind, and it really paid off.
And once you’ve pursued your passion, take the next step and connect what you love with your personal mission, like Hillary Cutter of Cutter Productions did. After founding her film and commercial production company, Hillary thought beyond her passion, she wanted to pursue something that would serve her commitment to helping women in the film industry achieve equal representation. She decided to hire majority female crews for commercial and feature productions, and now is renowned by national brands and TV networks as a source of best in class, diverse casts and crews. The combination of doing what she loves and being able to have the impact she desires—to deliver on her why—has not only been personally fulfilling but allowed her to educate men and women in her industry on how to continue uplifting one another.
If you haven’t discovered your most fervent passion, or you’re not ready to drop what you’re doing to do exactly what you love, no worries. You have two options to connect passions with work:
- Do more of the current work activities that bring you joy. First, figure out what the source of that joy is, and then do everything you can to do more of it, or find a role inside your company where that skill is in demand and praised.
- Bring your current passions to work. Make it known to those around you that you love health and fitness or that photographing cityscapes fuels you. Then surround yourself with those passions at work. Having them around will help you stay connected to the things you love. And letting others know about them will help you connect more deeply and build stronger relationships with your colleagues.
Are you ready to start making a real living?
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