Living on Purpose with Passion

In my last post, I discussed the five keys to living on purpose: Passion, Vision, Mission, Direction, and Execution.  I also explained that living on purpose is like climbing a ladder, you have to first take a few steps before achieving your desired goal.

Passion, is the first rung on that ladder and can be defined as an intense emotion - either positive or negative. Following your passion is something you'd be willing to do if money, time, education or anything else wasn't an issue. Some people refer to it as "flow".

Do you know what you're passionate about as it relates to your profession or career? Some leaders I work with have a strong interest in the subject matter of their current occupations, such as marketing or finance. Others have a passion for bigger issues such as the environment or the economy. Still others, although well-established in their careers, are not engaged in their work and are still trying to find meaning in their day to day activities.

According to a study published by Deloitte University Press (Hagel, Brown, Ranjan & Byler, 2014), about 87.7% of workers in America do not feel passionate about the work they do and, therefore, are not fully engaged.

If you're already clear about your passion and enjoy your current job or career, congratulations! Have you identified if there's anything you'd like to do more of in the coming year as it relates to your passion? Is there someone who you could mentor, sponsor or inspire to help them find what they most enjoy doing?

For the other 87.7% who might not yet be engaged, here are a few tips on how to find your passion and how to move more in the direction of living on purpose.

  1. Take some time to identify subjects or areas that you have a strong interest in or emotions about. For example:
    1.  Is it important to you that your company saves as much money as possible or sells the best product or service? 
    2. Are you more interested in seeing the development of employees or helping your company make a lot of money? 
    3. Are you passionate about a particular social or political issue unrelated to your current profession such as global warming or teenage pregnancy?
Don't sensor your thoughts, just think, dream and write down your all of your ideas and interests.

  1. Once you've listed everything that comes to mind, take it a step further and consider why you're passionate about or interested in each subject. You might have to ask "why" a few times to help you gain a deeper understanding as to what the passion is about – and you might gain a few other insights along the way.

For example, I love to write. Why? Because it helps me to get my ideas out of my head and on to paper. And why is that important? So that I can share some of my thoughts with others who might be struggling with similar things I've thought about and struggled with. And why is this important? Because it's my way of helping and serving others.  So, service is what is truly important to me and one way I serve others is through writing.

The deeper you go in your "why", the closer you'll get to your true passion, motivation and values.

Some people are passionate about certain things because of their own past experiences. Yet others simply want to see change in themselves, their families, their communities, and/or beyond. I became passionate about coaching women in leadership because of my own early career experiences. I wanted to see the corporate landscape become more inclusive of women and people of color.
  1. Finally, think about what you most enjoy doing and identify the activities that you perform that you 'lose yourself in'.
    1. Ask yourself, "What do I enjoy doing that makes me forget about the time or causes me to even miss a few meals because I'm so engaged?" Again, think about this in the context of work but also the larger context of home and community.
    2. Write down those things that come up for you – even if you're not doing them now.

Once you've identified potential areas to hone in on, you might have a pretty lengthy list. What do you do now?

  1. First, order/rank the list according to what you're most passionate about (this includes your interests and your activities). 
  2. Then identify a first step toward doing more—either in your existing role at work or some other possibility that brings you and your passions together (for example, volunteering, taking up a hobby or helping someone who is already engaged in your interest).
  3. Consider whether there is there any research you need to do, a book you can read, someone you can talk to or a class you can take to get more information on whether this is the direction you'd like to try and go?
  4. Consider volunteering for a project at work or with a non-profit that focuses on your area of interest. So even if your day to day work is not the most exciting, at least you've added excitement by following your passion in other ways.

Dr. Julianna Hynes, is an Executive Coach focused on supporting leaders in healthcare in developing executive presence and communication, influence, emotional intelligence and strategic perspective. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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