Finding yourself with a lack of passion for your career can come at any moment. It can be a fleeting moment. Or it can be a moment of intensity. The fleeting moments come and go. The greatest opportunities for growth come when your passion gets really shaken and you have no choice but to take a hard look at yourself. This is the time to go deep and figure out what’s at the core of your lack of passion and how to shift your passion back on. Here are some tools that will help you take an honest assessment of your passions and where they truly do and don’t lie.
Find more places for depth
One of the challenges of leadership is that you don’t get to put your hands in the pot anymore. The skills and expertise that got you into leadership quickly fall to the wayside as we take on more management responsibilities. Where I once was an expert in measuring marketing’s success, I now simply manage those functions. I am looking at the big picture, setting the vision, and taking the long view. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for the nitty-gritty details of every project my team has in flight. The challenge comes in when I don’t feel like I’m doing what I love anymore. That is usually a sign that I’m skimming the surface on a lot of things and not going into any depth on anything interesting to me. I thrive on depth and need it to inspire my passion.
Find something you can go deep on. What to select will be unique to you, but could include art, writing, learning a new language, exploring martial arts, woodworking, or any activity that excites you. Use this opportunity to prioritize all the things you’ve “wanted” to become an expert at and go do it. Pick one thing and go deep on it instead of trying to do a bunch of things. That’s what got you here.
Find something else to be passionate about
It’s okay if work isn’t your everything. We need outside hobbies to balance our work lives and yet, so many of us put it on the back burner week after week. This is a disservice to yourself and your team. Instead, find something else to be passionate about outside of work. If you’re unsure what to do, do a little research. Create a list of things that would be exciting through a process of self-inquiry. Ask yourself, what have I always wanted to learn? What skill have I always wanted to acquire? Where have I always wanted to travel? What brought me joy as a little kid? Where do I love to be in nature? What do I enjoy taking photos of? Who do I most want to spend more time with? What brings me joy now?
You can come up with hundreds of these questions and what you’ll find is that you know a lot more about your passion than you’ve been giving yourself credit for. The answers are always inside of us, we simply need to go deep enough to find them. It’s about taking the time to allow your brain to process all of these inputs and put them into a meaningful container for you. Self-reflection is a great tool to organize your thoughts and provide clarity on what your next action is.
Deepen your connections to people
One of the places I love to explore depth is with other people. There’s nothing more fulfilling than learning the depths of a person’s story and truly understanding their perspective. So when I get a little sidetracked on passion, I double down on people and look for every opportunity to connect deeper with my team, my family, and friends. I find that hearing other people’s stories and their successes inspires me to be an even better version of myself.
Look at how you can form deeper relationships with more people on your team. Just recognize that this doesn’t scale. As such, be strategic about where you want to form relationships in the organization and start at your lowest ranks. That’s where you’ll find the golden nuggets that tell the true story of what’s happening in the organization. And it’s also where you’ll find those who still have drive and passion for the work they are putting out in the world, which can help reignite the passion in you. You remember when you were just starting out or just got your first big win? Those are precious moments and can be great opportunities to build a deeper relationship with key members who are contributing value to your team.
Find places to receive inspiration
I believe we all need our own special spot that we can go to clear our heads and receive inspiration. This spot should be intentional and when you go there it should be for the purpose of receiving inspiration. There is so much information running through our heads that sometimes it’s simply about stepping away for a few moments to allow me to cut through the mental clutter and see what matters. You can find a place to go or you can find something to do.
I have a trail that I like to go to when I need inspiration. Sometimes I run, sometimes I walk, and sometimes I find a nice spot to sit. Find something that helps you clear your head and go there with purpose, often. It’s important to pay attention to frequency here. This isn’t about going once or twice. It’s about creating a relationship with this spot so you can rely on it in times of need. You might not receive inspiration every time, but the simple act of letting your thoughts reorganize will go a long way.
Slow down and find your balance
A lot of us are simply moving through life too quickly. We’re going through the motions, but forgetting to stop and look the people we love in the eyes. This constant motion eventually builds up and overtaxes the system leading to burnout, depression, and anxiety. Instead, intentionally find ways to slow down and step out of the motions of life so you can recharge. This has to be something that is done intentionally or it will fall off of the priority list.
As such, I schedule my recharge time and ensure I have one weekend a month that is focused on doing a lot of “nothing”. I’ve found that this is the best way to ensure that I’m coming to work recharged and ready to deliver my best work. You can also use tools like yoga, meditation, and visualization exercises to give your mind a break. And whenever you can, get outside. It does wonders for you and can be a source of inspiration itself. I also find that slowing down to the speed of nature helps me regain my balance and see more clearly.
You’ll notice that none of these tips are to look for your passion “in” work. Instead, it’s about finding your passion within yourself so you can anchor what passion feels like again. We can’t create passion, but we can fuel it when it’s already there. Make yourself a priority and give yourself the gift of rediscovering your passion at work, at home, and at play. You’re worth it.