Is “follow your passion” good advice for those seeking more purposeful engagement in their life?
When you think about putting your passion into action, think about the what (what are you passionate about) and also think about the how (what outlets will you use to express yourself). Here are thoughts about some key elements for what meaningful engagement looks like, both in a formal work setting and in one’s broader community life:
- Mission alignment- do you support the goals and vision of your organization? Does the work align with both your heart and your head?
- Freedom/Independence- do you control your time, your schedule, your assignments?
- Sense of Completion- can you finish what you start? Do your assignments and projects have a beginning, middle and end?
- Variety- are your activities different on a daily or weekly basis? Do you use your analytical brain alternately with more routine activities? Do you tap into multiple skills and talents in your arsenal?
- Feedback – do you have a sense of whether you are doing good work and how your efforts can become even greater?
- Relationships – do you have meaningful connection to colleagues, inside and outside of your organization, who push, support, and nourish you?
- Contribution- to what extent does your work “make a difference” to the well being of other people and to the bigger picture of “repairing the world”?
Looking for what gets you in the flow, in addition to following your passion, by posing these questions could lead to ultimate job and life satisfaction . In fact, searching for impact in your work and in the world could indeed be possible if these criteria are met. During our lifetime, we have the opportunity to “diversify our meaning portfolio”. The more meaning that you have in multiple areas of your life (your family, relationships, work, community activities, health, spirituality) , the more you make the connection to your passion and larger purpose. Our ultimate search and quest should be to tap into our essence (who we are) to serve ourselves, others, and the world. What the world needs is people who come alive, and can authentically express that aliveness in the way that they engage in their spheres of influence and in their lives.
Get quiet and listen to what you love to do and what’s important to who you are. When you know what lights you up- the reason you’re here- it becomes easier and even necessary to share that with everyone. Ask yourself the questions above and see what the answers are and how that connects with your work in the office and in the community. It’s the integration of knowing your passion in the context of the framework above that offers you the recipe for sustained meaningful engagement.