Be Productive: Take Care of Your Spirit (Find Your Passion at Work)

Posted By on February 11, 2011

This is the fifth in a five-part series on productivity and health

I work in a place where people are filled with passion for their mission of beating cancer, and, as an in-house professional organizer here, I have a job that fulfills my passion of organizing work and writing.

In his book “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working,” author Tony Schwartz discusses people’s passion for their work.

Spirit/passion is what he refers to as the fourth quadrant for finding happiness and balance in work and life. (You can read about all the quadrants and the individual ones here: physical, mental and emotional).

As Tony points out, you can run on passion for your work for a while, but you can’t run on it for long without the other areas (quadrants) of your life being in order.

In January, I celebrated my 11th year anniversary at MD Anderson, and I was stunned that it had been that long. Time flies when you’re having fun.

But what about those people who don’t have passion for their work? I’ve been there myself, and I know what it’s like to get up, drag yourself to a place you strongly dislike, and muddle through the day. You’re not really doing your best work and being productive.

Dreading work is painful, passionless

Before coming to MD Anderson, I stayed a year too long at my previous two jobs. You think I would have learned the second time, but I was finishing up grad school and didn’t want to change jobs.

When I meet people who are unhappy with their jobs, I ask them what they want to do about it. After all, no one should stay in a place that sucks out their life and soul. I tell them about my experience and assure them that they can find their happy place. Some look at me like a three-headed alien.

Take action: Find your passion

The brave will venture forth, and either change jobs or make their current one better, if that’s possible. A few others are the chronic complainers. No matter what happens, they’re going to complain about it. Sadly, most will stay where they’re at and become more and more bitter and unhappy. A bitter person is like cancer, and that bitterness can spread if you’re not careful.

With the economy, jobs are scarce, and some people have been scrambling for a job, any job. When the concern is for a paycheck, how long can you forego passion? In my experience, you need to find something to spark your interests again sooner rather than later.

Suggestions for finding your spark:

Look outside of work. If you’re in a passionless job, pursue your passion elsewhere. You can do that by volunteer work (non-profits have all kinds of needs and openings), attend networking or special-interest groups (check out and entrepreneurial groups), or finding a hobby.

Let yourself dream. If you’re not sure what will make you happy or what passion is, create a Vision Board and see what bubbles up for you.

Get inspired. I also recommend Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Her book and website have great tips and suggestions on how to find your own personal happiness. An oldie but goodie is “What Color is Your Parachute.” This book is updated every couple of years and helps you discover yourself. There’s even a workbook you can buy to go with it.

Get help. If you need extra help, you can always find a life and business coach. I know several, and I’ve used several. Most of their work is done via e-mail and phone so it doesn’t matter where either of you live.

Life is too short not to have passion. You may think your life is mere ordinary, but we are each extraordinary in our own ways.

See also:

Be Productive: Take Care of Yourself (Part 1)
Be Productive: Take Care of Your Body (Part 2)
Be Productive: Take Care of Your Emotions (Part 3)
Be Productive: Take Care of Your Mind (Part 4)



2 Responses to “Be Productive: Take Care of Your Spirit (Find Your Passion at Work)”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JaniceSimon and Karen McCullough, Ellen Delap. Ellen Delap said: Lots of great ways to find your passion. RT @JaniceSimon: New blog post is up! How to find your passion. […]

  2. Ellen Delap says:

    Love this post! You are so right about how fear paralyzes us in our work. Having passion in a meaningful way makes us come alive.