I’m an old Millenial, but I’m a Millenial nonetheless, so please spare me the eye roll when I talk about passion at work. As a rule, logic dominates my thought processes, so I never expected to find a day job that was a “dream job.” (Those expectations died with my dreams, in chronological order, of being an Olympic gymnast, an actress, and a sports broadcaster.) Still, as I’ve moved forward, backward, and sideways in my career, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that despite my general contentment in my work these days, I’m not “feeding my soul,” as one colleague put it. Determined not to be stuck in a rut, I’ve used these tactics to find passion at work even if I’m not living the dream:
It’s All in the Little Things.
After almost five years of misery as a corporate lawyer, I was sure there was absolutely nothing I liked about the job, the firm, or the work. But over the years, when I’m asked why and how I left the law, I find that I actually talk quite passionately about working with startups and small businesses, helping them raise funds, watching them grow, and feeling like I’m a part, however small, of their success. Sometimes, if you take a step back and try to look objectively, you’ll see that even in a job you think you hate, there might be pieces of it that you really do enjoy. Even today as a property manager, I’m not saving lives, but listening to my tenants talk about their businesses and helping work through difficult situations reminds me of my strengths as a professional and reinvigorates me when the days start to feel mundane.
Pick a Pet Project.
It might not be sexy or great for the resume, but if there is something that excites you, find a way to weave it into your work. One of my employees is tasked with a monthly project that’s relatively data-entry-heavy, but it provides a great macro-level picture of what’s going on with my assets, so I love to dig into it when I have time. Plus, doing a little mindless data entry is a nice late-afternoon task while I sip on some tea and catch up on podcasts.
Find a Non-Work Related Passion.
Maybe it’s volunteering, maybe it’s taking a yoga class, or maybe it’s creating a blog in the middle of the busiest time of your life. Whatever makes you feel good, provides catharsis, and keeps you centered is a win. Bonus points: you can spin almost any side gig into usable skills for resume building purposes if you’re like me and need to have a logical reason behind everything you do.
Do a Quick Office Makeover.
Shallow as it may sound, making your work space a little more pleasant can help change your attitude. My personalized items include a cute mug as a pen holder, a travel-themed letterpress calendar (similar here) to temporarily cure my wanderlust, and most recently, I brought some of my favorite business books (here, here, and here) to inspire me. And of course, a few pictures of my little nuggets acts as a gentle reminder why I am here in the first place.
Not everyone will find a way to fuse their deepest passions into the work they get paid to do, but there are many ways to find excitement and passion within your day job that can feed your need for meaning and fulfillment. You just might have to focus your perspective in on the micro level to see it.