Do you love what you do? Apparently, Chester Reed did. He retired last month from the job he's held for the last 37 years. A job he loved. Moreover, he's 95 years old. 95!
I hope I am passionate about what I'm doing when I'm 95, and I hope the same for you.
Here's the thing. We are passionate beings. That's one big thing that separates us from other beings on this earth - our passion. Passion fuels us. Passion keeps us going when times are tough. Passion drives us to greatness.
When we aren't doing what we love, we are less than we could be. We fail to reach our full potential when we aren't doing what we love. We may survive. We may even thrive in a material sense, but we won't thrive without passion for our work.
Others can tell when we are "phoning it in." Our lack of passion shows, and we are a bit less in the eyes of others. In addition, we often have the feeling there is something more to life; that we aren't experiencing everything life has to offer.
I'm lucky to be doing what I love. It wasn't always that way, and I know how it feels to be doing something less than what I love. I also know how impossible it can seem to make the leap from humdrum to passion in our work. Life seems to conspire to make humdrum feel safe and secure, and to pull us back from that great leap of faith. I was there. I did not make my move because it seemed too risky to do so.
Until I disagreed with my CEO and he helped me make the leap. By sending me packing.
What had kept me from changing myself were my fears of the unknown, and my ability to imagine the worst. And the fact that I didn't really know what I wanted to do. For months I pursued more of the same. It was only after my wife pointed out how I seemed to be hoping no one would make me an offer that I began to question what I was doing. It took nearly a year from the day I lost my job for me to figure out who I am and what I could contribute to the world.
I didn't take the time - until I was forced - to step back and ask what my purpose is here. Perhaps I could have saved some time and pain if I had done so earlier. Perhaps I had to grow through it all in order to arrive where I am now.
Perhaps you don't believe it's important to love what you do. If that's true for you, then read no further. But if you are interested in finding your passion, here are some things to try.
- Read Marcus Buckingham's Go Put Your Strengths to Work and do the exercises.
- List three to five times in your life when you felt strong, smooth, excited and lost in what you were doing. What were you doing at each of those times? Which of your strengths were you using? Whom were you serving?
- Find a quiet place to sit and ponder. Imagine you are about to go out on stage to accept a lifetime achievement award. Over a thousand people await you and your acceptance speech. The buzz is huge. What did you do to earn this award? How do you feel about that? Imagine walking out on that stage to give your acceptance talk. It won't be a long one, but it will touch the audience deeply. You make your speech. There is a hush before the audience stands and gives you a rousing ovation. What did you tell them to touch them so deeply?
- Be aware of what fuels your passions. When you realize the time has flown, that you just spent a few hours doing something so right for you that you didn't even think about time, note what it is you were doing.
- Pay attention to your emotions. Your emotions are powerful clues to the work you were meant to do. When something pulls you, explore it. Somewhere in there may be the key to your passion.
Finding your passion is the first step. What to do when you discover that you aren't doing what you love is the subject of a future post or two.
[Photo by Daniel Hennessy/L2 Agency. Downloaded from http://www.aarp.org/work/work-life/info_06_2010/oldest_u_s_postalworkerretiresat95/.]