What if you don’t have that ‘one thing’, the thing you are utterly passionate about, the thing that’s just waiting to be turned into your dream career? Can you still have a satisfying working life?

Of course you can. In fact, you may have a greater chance of a happy and successful life if you can develop passion or fascination (or even just interest) from within your job.

I often have career change clients who worry that they don’t know what they are passionate about, and so cannot make a successful career transition. Rubbish to that.

Unless you are Mozart or Marie Curie, chances are you are interested in many things, and your enthusiasm waxes and wanes with time and circumstances. This is true of most of my clients – in fact I doubt that either Mozart or Marie Curie would have the time or the need for career coaching…

It’s a lovely fantasy to think that there is one career for every person, and that somewhere in heaven is a fortune cookie with the name of your one true vocation inside it. But, like most fantasies (including the one about a predestined perfect man for every woman…), it just isn’t so. For a very few, there may indeed be a calling that is always clear and never doubted (and a partner who meets our every need), but most of us have to put in some hard yards and create our life and work satisfaction, piece by little piece.

So, what to do if that single passion eludes you?

Start by working out your strengths, abilities and skills. Look at what interests you, what fires you up, what you care about.

Then, create a list of possible occupations that might allow you to utilise these strengths and interests. Run some experiments (talk to people in that field, shadow a practitioner, read about what’s involved, get some adult work experience). Apply for jobs, see what you think.

It’s not rocket science (unless of course that’s your new field, in which case it’s absolutely rocket science).

Yes, it takes commitment and courage, hard work and reflection. You need to take risks. It’s not nearly as alluring as lying around, waiting for your one true passion to fall from the heavens, but it’s an awful lot more practical and achievable.

And it’s an awful lot more likely to result in long term satisfaction and success. Have you ever fallen for someone, absolutely known they were yours for keeps, and then fallen out of love just as quickly? So it is with many of our career enthusiasms. We may fall out of love with our desire to be a nurse or a fireman. Or your dream occupation may disappear – think of papyrus scroll makers, telex operators, horse-and-carriage drivers…

But if you base your decision on research and a sound knowledge of yourself, coupled with enthusiasm for the field you’re interested in, you generally find yourself falling in love with your work from the inside. You do it, you learn more, you find your feet, you engage your strengths…and voilà, you’re in love!

Passion is vital for long term career satisfaction, it’s just the bit about expecting it to descend-from-heaven-all-wrapped-up-and-ready-to-open that’s problematic.

Do you agree? What is your story?

(Still not convinced you can get by without a pre-determined passion? Click here to book a free coffee chat (in Sydney) or Skype/phone chat (elsewhere), and I’ll show you how.

Joanna Maxwell


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