PEOPLE AT WORK COLUMN: Four Steps To Finding Your Passion

“YOUR face betrays no emotion.” This is what Alan Barker, a trainer on effective communication, told me several years ago. As a Human Resource manager, I had developed the habit of not showing my emotions especially during stressful situations. I thought it was a sign of efficiency. Instead, it was a symptom of career burnout.

I wonder what Alan Barker would say if he saw me today? My face gets so animated when I speak that sometimes wonder if I overwhelm people with my enthusiasm.  Why the change? I found my passion in life, giving me access to a wellspring of ideas. I work faster and though I am engrossed in my work, I enjoy more time with my family and for my self-development.

It amazing that when paradigms change, boundaries of time and space are conquered. This is the paradox– and the power–of discovering passion. This what you can give yourself, starting today. Plot your passion plan in four simple steps:

Step 1: Discover your passion in life.

Make three lists. The first should be of situations that make you enthusiastic. Try to recall past events, or if nonr comes to mind, start keeping a daily journal so you can vatch those moments before you forget them. The next list should be of activities that you excel in. And the last are activities that can have a major impact in your life.

The items which appear in all three lists are your passion generators. For example, my passion generators include writing, conceptualizing new projects, doing things that will help society, making a difference in someone’s life, sharing my ideas with others. These activities are what get me excited, happy, energized–unlike other tasks that just leave me drained and tired (what Alan called “betraying no emotion.”

Step 2. Identify the supporting factors and obstacles to building passion in your life.

There are conscious and subconscious fears that prevent us from going after our dream. Mine were fear of not earning enough income, complacency in my career as an HR manager, and doubts about my ability to succeed in the new endeavor.

I had to face these fears so I wouln’t sabotage my passion plan by falling back to safer, but less satisfying habits and defense mechanisms. So I looked to something (or rather, someone) to help me overcome those obstacles: my husband. He not only  supported my plan, he assured me of our financial capabilities and   my competence in my new field.

Of course, your obstacles can be more logistical rather than emotional, like you lack the money to leave a job you hate. In that case, identify who or what can help you solve that problem. Remember that when there’s a will, there’s a way–we just need to look for that way.

Step 3. Get a taste of your passion.

It is tempting to resign this very second to follow your dream, but there are few who can afford that kind of reckless abandon. Instead, look for something you can do before uprooting yourself from your current job or career. For example, to flex my writing skills, I wrote weekly reviews of business books for more than a year while I kept my job as Corporate HR Head of the Inquirer. That way I had something to look forward to; I was feeding my creative soul.

Step. 4. Set a time frame for transition.

identify specific marker dates when you can achieve part of your goal. Identify people who will support you in achieving your passion plan. In 1997, I gave myself three years to shift careers. On the second year, I submitted an advice column called People at Work to our editor-in-chief. It was published right away. Unfortunately, that column lived only for a day since writing it would conflict with my work as HR manager.

A year later, Chin Ning Chu, the author of Thick Face, Black Heart, sent material that sparked the concept for the People at Work section. I presented the concept to our associate editor, Abel Ulanday, who didn’t think it was a crazy idea and made the mock-up of the section. After several months of evaluation, the People at Work section was born on May 30, 2000, the same day I resigned from my fulltime corporate career.

Don’t let your dream just hang in the air, ungrounded and unplanned for. Take concrete steps. Network. Find and get help when you can. If things don’t fall into place, take heart:make a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. Don’t give up. Finding your passion can For  blend the disparate areas of your life –your work, your family, your leisure—into a life that reflects the wholeness of your spirit.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. Published in Metro Working Mom June 2002 issue.

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Founding Editor, People at Work, Business, Phiippine Daily Inquirer

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