PEOPLE AT WORK COLUMN: Put Passion Back In Your Job

ARE you a Cinderella or a Sleeping Beauty at work? Cinderella, in her desire to go to the ball, enthusiastically does all the menial tasks assigned to her by her wicked stepmother. For her, the ball is an exciting event, the palace a dreamland and the prince, heaven. On the other hand, Sleeping Beauty just sleeps in the castle and waits for her prince to awaken her with a kiss.

Women at work may view the office like Cinderella (work is an exciting place!) or like Sleeping Beauty (the office is boring—might as well sleep, literally and figuratively, until something or someone exciting comes along).

What’s the difference between Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty? Cinderella has a passion for her prince (symbolizing work) while Sleeping Beauty is as cold as death, her talents and personality buried beneath apathy.

The problem is while there are many Cinderellas at work, management often holds the perception that women are mostly Sleeping Beauties—or, at the very least,  are not as committed to their work as men. And, based on research findings, this negative perception is one of the obstacles to the advancement of women in the workplace.

Whether you are a Cinderella or a Sleeping Beauty at work, how can you retain, nurture  and renew your passion for work? The answer lies within your heart.

Richard Chang, author of “The Passion Plan” writes, “…the key for passioneers … is to start with the heart. Only when people are in touch with their passions do they use their heads to give shape and substance to their dreams. By linking the two in a process of self-evaluation and action, passioneers use their greatest strengths to achieve their greatest goals.”

To know what’s in your heart, first, ask yourself, what kind of work makes you feel alive. What activities echo your innermost dreams and aspirations? Observe what animates you, bores you or leaves you feeling indifferent. For example, when I conceptualize new projects or programs related to human resources development or mass media, my mind keeps on running even till late at night. However, talk to me about labor relations and I can fall asleep in an instant.

Second, find out what you can be best at and not just merely good at. For example, I may do well in CBA negotiations but it’s not my best suit because my heart in not in it. I will do what is needed—and only needed—but stop as soon as I have met the minimal requirements. However, I think I can be best at writing and sharing my experiences with readers because I have loved sharing my ideas since I was a child.

Think about what part of your job you enjoy the most. Maybe you prefer working with people and thrive in situations that allow you to interface with others. Or maybe you’re drawn to a particular principle, like projects that help kids. If your job doesn’t expose that side, consider volunteering for a committee or approaching your boss for a task that can tap your skills and ideals.

Lastly, discover what has the greatest impact on your life or what is your “profit” factor. “Profit” in this sense can be measured in pesos and cents as well as non-monetary benefits or “bank accounts:” mental (you are learning something new, or making use of your current talents), physical (you feel energized), emotional (you are enjoying yourself and you like who you are when your’re working), and spiritual (you are learning more about yourself).

If you know what excites you, what you can be best at, and what makes the greatest impact on your life, then you will discover your passion in work and in life. This will give you energy to last a lifetime.

While it’s hard to keep passion alive amidst the ordinariness of our lives, we need to make the effort. Richard Chang defines the consequences so clearly, “When we act in opposition to our heart, defying our passion, we are left with feelings of emptiness, longing, and unfulfillment. When we rule out passion, we introduce ourselves to a life of regrets, a life of what-ifs.” Live a life without regret. Reach for that passion in your work and life and reap the rewards of a life fulfilled.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. Published in Metro Working Mom May 2001.

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

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