Finding Your Passion

In generations past, people didn't have as many career options, or at least they didn't think they did. If a man worked for the electric company, chances were that his sons would, too. Daughters of homemaker mothers were supposed to follow suit. It didn't really matter if a child loved to draw, dissect lizards, or build models. If the family owned a grocery store, the children were expected to one day join the business or enter some other “suitable” profession, such as teaching. People loyally stayed with an employer for decades, nose to the grindstone, until they could collect the gold watch and pension and fade away into the sunset of retirement. Not any more.

Workers Have Changed

It used to be that the exception was the person who knew there was something that she was meant to do and went after it. Today that can describe anyone, but fewer people than you might think really follow their passion. A 2005 Harris Interactive, Inc. survey found that only 20 percent of U.S. workers feel passionate about their jobs. Would that we all could share the singleness of purpose of filmmaker Roger Corman. He was enamored of movies, but because his father wanted him to be an engineer, he graduated with an engineering degree. Just days into his new job, he knew he had to make movies, so he quit and moved to Hollywood. Corman became one of the most successful filmmakers in history because he followed his passion.

That same 2005 survey found that 21 percent of workers are eager to change careers and 33 percent feel as though their careers are at a dead end. Many of those people longing for change probably ended up where they are because they took an opportunity that arose with no thought as to whether or not they could do it — or even liked it. Sometimes that's just what you have to do to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. Many of those other dissatisfied people no doubt took jobs they enjoyed at the time — perhaps they even felt passionate about them — only to find out later that those jobs no longer suited their changed circumstances, perspectives, or interests.

Careers Have Changed

Choice in all aspects of life has increased exponentially, from what kind of car to drive to what detergent to use to which artisan bread to have with your soup. If you don't choose, the choice will be made for you, whether by default, circumstances beyond your control, or someone else. The same holds true for careers. The job market offers a vast array of exciting and seemingly limitless options. But behind all that wonderful variety lie important decisions to be made. Are you meant to be a greeting card writer or podiatrist? Architect or computer engineer? Translator or flight attendant? Lepidopterist or veterinarian? Kindergarten teacher or social worker? Policeman or park ranger? Corporate president or entrepreneur? When you really think about it, a vast number of choices can be paralyzing, not liberating. You could flip a coin, but that method isn't likely to result in a career that suits you or one that you feel passionate about.

If you are searching for more than a job, or if you want a satisfying career that uses your talents and abilities and engages your heart as well as your mind, then it's going to require some introspection — and decision-making — on your part. The best way for you to find one of the careers that is perfect for you is to take a good honest look at yourself.

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