How Pursuing Your Passions
Propels Your Professional Purpose
by Adele Sommers
Do you have a tremendous love, fondness, desire, and enthusiasm for what you do in your profession? If so, congratulations! You’re most likely pursuing your passions in life.
On the other hand, do you know what happens when you choose a professional direction that’s not aligned with your life passions? You tend to settle for an opportunistic approach toward your livelihood. For example...
You might have found yourself hopping
from idea to idea, or from career to career, or from business venture to business venture, always achieving less than you’re capable of accomplishing. If that sounds familiar, you’re probably picking things that are convenient, but that you’re not particularly ardent about doing.
Instead, you’d be far better off if you selected an avenue that fuels you and helps you make a special contribution to the world.
In this article, I explain three reasons why you should use a strategic approach that aligns your purpose with your passions. In this way, you can define and pursue goals that are truly worthy of your time and energy.
To find out what happens when your efforts are not aligned with your passions, start by asking yourself whether you’ve experienced any of the symptoms in the following three short stories. Here’s what happened to Mary, Bob, and Rhonda...
Symptom #1: Being Confused about One’s Professional Identity
Mary K. is just beginning to launch her new training and consulting business from her home office. After she obtains her business license, she determines that the next step must be to commission some artwork for her marketing material. So, she walks into her local graphic art studio to request a design for a logo.
The graphic artist interviews Mary and asks her what she wants to create. When Mary isn’t sure, the artist patiently tries to guide her through a series of questions about her work, the kinds of designs and color schemes that appeal to her, and the tag lines and slogans she might want to use.
Mary is stumped. She’s hasn’t ever stopped to contemplate her business branding in terms of slogans, phrases, symbols, colors, or typography. Even more importantly, she hasn’t even thought much about how the theme of her business fits into the broader canvas of her life. So, instead of helping Mary clarify her branding preferences, this interview simply seems to be generating more confusion.
In a flash, Mary senses that something is missing from her understanding of herself, and that it’s somehow related to her reason for being. But it’s still so vague... A half an hour ago, she needed a logo. At this point, she wonders what she stands for!
Alignment Reason #1: When we’re unaware of how our life passions guide our professional purpose, it’s difficult to design marketing materials that communicate with laser-like precision what we represent.
And, even if we are clear about our passions, what if we don’t fully integrate them with the other core aspects of our lives? That lack of cohesion can convey confusing messages to people about what we’re really trying to accomplish.
Symptom #2: Feeling Dissatisfied with a Business, Job, or Career
Rhonda and Bob decide to leave corporate life after the company they’ve both been working for shuts down and relocates across the country. With ten years to go until reaching retirement age, they decide to begin exploring entrepreneurial possibilities.
They start by compiling a set of criteria for evaluating any business they might want to acquire. Their criteria are very pragmatic, and include how easily they can enter the industry, the cash outlay required, and the amount of experience and training they might need.
After weighing the pros and cons as well as projecting the potential revenue streams, they finally settle on buying a sandwich franchise with a large chunk of their retirement savings.
It seems like a practical move. Since it’s a business they both know relatively little about, Rhonda and Bob believe it’s the fairest way to “buy themselves a job,” since it won’t be any more appealing to one person than the other. They decide to go ahead and take the plunge.
Two years later, however, they’re still working very long hours to make ends meet. They try to rationalize that any other business startup scenario would be just as difficult. But they both feel discouraged and empty, slogging away every day at something that did not initially inspire either of them.
Alignment Reason #2: When we skip the process of investigating our higher purpose, especially when considering a mid-life business or career transition, the results can come back to haunt us. It’s not uncommon to become burned out in any startup situation. But if the venture is not one we’re passionate about, we’ll have a very difficult time maintaining the momentum!
Symptom #3: Struggling with a Competitive Disadvantage
Bob and Rhonda decide to sell the sandwich shop and start an online business to promote vacation travel.
It seems like a much better business option, since it represents everything that their other business was NOT. It appears to be something they can do from home that does not require juggling physical store hours, inventory, and employees.
Unfortunately, it’s another area in which these two have neither passions nor strengths. They know relatively little about the travel industry, apart from their own vacation experiences. They soon find that they are, once again, facing long hours and low margins, plus constantly changing details.
Moreover, it’s an expedient shift from something they didn’t like doing. So even with more exposure to the field, they will be at a competitive disadvantage simply from being unable to convey a real passion for their work to their clients. Nothing sets them apart from competitors because people don’t sense any special spark behind what they offer.
Alignment Reason #3: When we choose a direction that primarily represents something other than what we dislike, we won’t have as strong and enduring of a commitment. In contrast, pursuing what we love imbues our work with magnetic sparkle. This attracts not only customers and clients, but also potential business partners, adding to our competitive strength.
And if we can elevate our business passions to the level of a compelling cause, we’ll be in a better position to entice prospective employees through our business philosophy.
A vision-based attraction is particularly critical during the startup phase — when other types of compensation tend to be especially low. It helps us further cement our competitive advantage by enabling us to recruit a stellar team.
In conclusion, for these crucial reasons, there’s really no substitute for aligning our life passions with our business or career purpose to achieve satisfying, long-lasting results. From the ability to send crystal-clear messages, to maintaining our business momentum, to developing a distinct competitive advantage, nothing speaks as loudly as doing what we love!
Copyright 2016 Adele Sommers