Passion is a funny thing. We feel passion about creative endeavors we embark upon, the things we do on the weekend, and once in a while about the work that we do.
Unfortunately the last point, passion about work, is not a feeling many people I know of can relate to. I have friends who have the great job, the job their parents are proud of and their friends jealous about but who feel like they're losing a part of their soul every day they continue to going into work and answer the emails or respond to the inquiries that just don't make any sense.
So many of us are passionless in work, or even just plain miserable. As a coach, the majority of my clients come to me with the same problem, the same challenges, and the same idea about what to do next. They don't know.
While an article can never quite explain it all, I've narrowed it down to a four key things one can do in an effort to feel more passion in life.
One caveat - if you've given up hope at your job, you have a chance, but unless you choose to try again this advice isn't for you.
Identify why you took the job in the first place
Why did you want to work there initially? What did you talk about and feel excitement for in your interviews. Is that still part of your work? If so, is it still meaningful to you?
If it's no longer meaningful to you, that's okay! Our priorities and interests change.
If it is still meaningful to you, but the meaning has been lost in the drudgery/frustration/a terrible boss, take some time to go back to the early days there. What was it that brought you joy back then? Take some time at the start of each and every day to think about the values and goals your company is working toward. Recognize that each and every activity that you do, even if it's not directly contributing to the goal, is, in it's small way, contributing to the mission that you value.
Dissect the negative and CHOOSE the positive
What exactly is it that is so bad there? In The Happiness Project, Gretchen, the author tells the story of a woman who was about to take a new job. Everyone she knew warned her that her future boss was a terror and would make her life miserable. She knew the job was exactly what she wanted and needed next in her career but that if she let the horrible boss effect her, that it wasn't going to pan out. So, she decided that she would never think or say a bad thing about her boss. No matter the horrors, she would stay positive and avoid focusing on the bad. And you know what - she ended up being hugely successful AND ended up having a great relationships with her "horrible boss".
Write down ALL of the complaints that you have about your job. Seriously, all of them. Once you've got them down, take some time to think about how your choice of how you experience these things amplifies your pain.
Next, take some time and write down ways you can better react to these negative feelings. Can you shut down your negative/complaining thoughts like Gretchen's friend? Can you choose to act and react in a different way to make the experience less painful? Consider alternate reactions YOU can have to the situation and set an intent to act in that way moving forward.
Make time for yourself
Many of us end up saying yes to every request that is asked of us. We stay late, missing dinner and social engagements and exhausting ourselves. We stop doing the things that we love - the dinner parties and the hikes and the adventures. It's incredible how much of our life is sucked out of us by the stress and TIME that we allow our jobs to take.
I know that it feels like you MUST work all of those hours to get everything done. But you know what. If the project launches a week later, will it really be the end of the world? If the report waits until morning, will there really be people waiting at midnight to read it? Sometimes the answer to these questions is yes, but sit for a minute with this. Is it truly yes ALL of the time?
Set boundaries for yourself at work. Set the hours you're willing to work. Make allowances for extra hours once in a while. Allow yourself to get more sleep, to go to the gym, to have time to go for a walk at the end of the day with a friend or loved one. YOU HAVE THE CHOICE. Until you choose to take time for yourself, you will not ever have the time to live life and do all of those things that make you happy.
Start making time now. Set your hours so that you have time to rest and rejuvenate. Schedule the things that you love to do and actually do them. Make time to take care of yourself. You are in control of how much you work. Less hours does not make you a worse employee. Instead, focus on quality. Communicate that this is your style of work and that for you to be successful you will not answer email after 8pm. And then actually stick to it. :)
Appreciate where you are
I know it sucks. I know your boss is awful. But you know what, you've got a salary and a roof over your head. You have food on the table and probably even a few friends that like to spend time with you. You probably go on trips once in a while and can afford fun things on the weekend. You, my friend, have got it pretty good!
Now take some time, each and every day to reflect on this fact.
Last week I had two wildly random yet strangely connected experiences that got me thinking about the role that serendipity plays in our lives, our happiness, and our careers.
I decided on Friday morning that I wanted to get out of town for the weekend. Not having a car, a friend to go with, or a place to stay, I used Airbnb for lodging and Getaround, a marketplace to rent normal people’s cars, for a vehicle. Upon picking up my car for the weekend, the owner Pooran and I had a conversation about where I was going and what I was doing for the long weekend. I explained my desire to get out of town to have some me time to write and paint and reflect. I don’t know if I said I would meditate as well, but he mentioned that he often goes to the Zen Center, a spot that I frequent in San Francisco. I didn’t think much of it and we parted ways so I could drive out to the Yurt I rented for my retreat.
The next day I taught a trial yoga class at a studio I’ve never been in before. When I got to the Vespa to go home after the class, I realized I left my key inside. Upon returning to the studio I saw that the front desk was being manned by a friend I had made in my life coaching courses and hadn't seen for months! I hadn’t seen her when I originally left the class, but in forgetting my keys and serendipity brought us back together. We had an enthusiastic chat and have a coffee date scheduled for later this week.
These encounters seem to happen to me all the time. I bump into someone in a new context, befriend a person to later find out they may impact a job I’m applying for, or borrow something from someone and end up becoming friends. When these serendipitous moments happen, they are always positive or helpful and somehow they always seem to happen just at the right time.
“Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.” Lawrence Block
So what is my trick for having so many serendipitous moments?
I am known to do a really wide, often random assortment of activities. From camping trips to museum events, intellectual dinners to dog charity events, it’s part of my makeup to constantly be amongst new people and in new situations.
This willingness to try anything gives me an advantage because I always have a traveler’s mindset. Imagine being on a trip on your own: you go to the bar by yourself, have dinner alone, go to museums and on tours on your own. In that aloneness, you have a certain vulnerability and that vulnerability makes you more open to outside interactions.
“Serendipity bomb...little packets of potential opportunity you create by acting.”
Putting yourself in places where you are a bit uncomfortable creates this vulnerability and makes you more open to chance encounters, but you have to say yes to those opportunities in order to have the chance to experience it and you need to be present when you arrive.
In San Francisco there are opportunities to learn at or activities to participate in that give you a chance to meet new people literally every day. Taking the time to plan to go to these activities and actually showing up to them expands your contexts for opportunities to arise.
“What is luck but the ability to exploit accidents.” –Jannett Winterson
Don’t be afraid to connect
Each of us want, so deeply, to have a human interaction instead of zoning out on social media. What if you’re the person that can compliment someone’s shoes and help them to feel more confident? Even a smile at someone walking down the sidewalk can have an impact on his or her day. I often notice myself walking along the street with a grin thinking about something in my life that is good and to see others light up around me just makes my smile grow larger.
This applies in your every day interactions. Can you imagine your normal day where, instead of being surrounded by strangers while commuting or having coffee you see it instead as being surrounded by friends just waiting to be made?
Use the opportunity to connect with people as much as you can. It can be over a shared situation or something you notice and like about the other person. If you have the courage to speak up, the benefits are large for your happiness, and have immense potential for lighting a spark for future serendipitous encounters.
“A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.”
Welcome to Here, Now.
I’ve been a proponent for and obsessor over the ideals of personal and professional development since I first became aware of the fact those concepts exist, which I’m pretty sure was in elementary school student council. As I've gone through my career thus far, I realized the times that I felt most alive, most in charge, and was contributing the most was when I was helping to grow and connect the people I worked with to their goals.
After leaving another startup, I took some time off to think about what I really want to do with my time, with my life, and a conversation with a friend struck me. We were lying on the grass a morning during Coachella and she said "Steph, you would be a great therapist." While I'm a proponent of people seeking out therapy, my passion is on helping people to figure out what's next, what their goals are, and how to achieve them. So I took a life coaching course through CTI, the oldest and most respected life coach training program. A few months later, I'm in the certification process to be a life coach, and the path it has taken me on couldn't be more perfect.
“There are three types of people in this world. Firstly, there are people who make things happen. Then there are people who watch things happen. Lastly, there are people who ask, what happened? Which do you want to be?”
What Is It?
HereNow is a consultancy, started by yours truly, Stephanie Usry. It’s a platform through which I offer life, career, and fulfillment coaching to individual clients and a company by which I offer my services to present at speaking engagements and educational workshops on personal and professional development, recruiting and startups, and executive leadership and management.
HereNow resonates as a name for what I’m doing for a number of reasons. It’s a reminder to be present right here, right now. It’s the question you ask when you’ve “made it” and in being here, you ask “now what?” It’s the idea of fully embracing the experiences and moments that you are privy to here and now.
It implies a presence, it encourages living in the moment, but it also offers the opportunity that, when we are fully present we can take the time and encourage our conscious to think about all the possibilities that may be next.
What I Believe
I believe that every individual has great potential within them, and that each of us have a myriad of excuses for not accomplishing, or even starting, the things we know would make us more fulfilled in our lives. I believe that if we allow ourselves the space to think about what we want, to process it, and then have someone to be accountable to, we can achieve tremendous amounts more in our personal and professional lives than we could if left to our own devices. I believe everyone needs a cheerleader/nagger/believer/accountability coach to help them find the focus they need to create the balanced and happy life they desire.
Why I’m doing it and am Great at it
I have always gravitated toward asking questions, encouraging people to find their own solutions, often favoring these managerial and people development duties over my business operations responsibilities. Receiving coaching of my own, I started to think deeply about what I actually WANTED to do every day of my life, and I realized that asking these questions and helping people to reach their own achievements is what gets me most excited. Right now I have minimal expenses and lots of time, so I couldn’t think of any further excuses. Independent business owner lifestyle, here I come!