Developing Your Passion Can Boost Your Work-Life Balance
By Beatriz Martinez
reviewed by kareem dauda
Do you have time during the day to explore your passions? Not feeling passionate about your job doesn’t mean that you cannot feel fulfilled. When you’re done with your professional duties, you still have the chance to do what really excites you. There isn’t one right way to follow your passion. Whether it is your job or the activities you do during your spare time, what matters is that you feel happy and satisfied once the day is over.
Passion provides energy and motivation to our lives; passion gives meaning to our goals. When we only focus on professional matters, especially if we are not passionate about them, our personal wellbeing can be at risk. On the other hand, if we only focus on our personal wellbeing, we may not be able to achieve our professional goals. Thus, creating and maintaining a balance is important for both our career and our health, and passion can be the aligning factor.
A day only has 24 hours and we usually need to deal with many obligations, deadlines, and family responsibilities. When on top of all of this we also want to pursue a passion project, work-life balance becomes an important concept for our overall wellbeing. With all these tasks in mind, it’s common to feel overwhelmed. Studies show that around 10% of people experience difficulties when trying to find a balance between work and personal life. In this article, we will focus on how to pursue a passion while at the same time keeping all other aspects of our life balanced.
Obsessive vs harmonious passion
Researchers distinguish between two types of passion: obsessive and harmonious. Obsessive passion is “a controlled internalization of the activity into one’s identity and self”, where feelings of social-acceptance of self-esteem are usually associated with the result of the activity. On the other hand, harmonious passion is “an autonomous internalization of the activity into the person’s identity and self”, where the activity is chosen as important but without any external pressure. Harmonious passion allows the activity to be a priority but without interfering in other aspects of life. When a job becomes an obsessive passion, it will have an impact on one’s personal life, as career will always be prioritized over personal life. On the contrary, harmonious passion will allow us to decide when and when not to engage in our professional pursuits.
It’s true that we spend most of the day at work, so it’d be ideal if we could feel passionate about it. However, if passion is lacking, but you feel that you’re applying your knowledge and skills at work, you might enjoy the sense of competence it gives you as well as the financial security the job provides. In this case, you can find what inspires you during your spare time.
Discovering your passion
Passion is not just a breeze. Passion can carry with it both difficulties and disappointments, so it’s really important to deeply know what really inspires us and what challenges we may find along the way.
Luckily, passion can be found unexpectedly at any point along our journey through life. Taking a yoga lesson, trying lettering for the first time, or travelling are all experiences that allow us to discover our passions. Every step we take personally and professionally can lead us to an activity or end result that ignites our passion, even though the road towards it may have been an arduous one.
If we open our minds to what we’re doing, we may be more aware of how activities make us feel and the various places that they can lead us to. Try to discover how you feel when cooking, exercising, working, and doing other activities that are part of your daily routine. Try different experiences as well. The key is to keep searching through introspection and experience, because doing what we love brings energy and motivation to our lives.
Finding what you’re passionate about
- We’re often told “follow your passion”, yet sometimes we don’t really know what we’re passionate about. You can find it by doing what you like. Your job may not be the dream job you have always thought it would be, but personal and professional experience can guide you towards finding your passion.
- Trying new things can make a difference: Starting a new hobby, taking a new course, volunteering, or even expanding your social network.
- Paying attention to your feelings and examining your values: On a daily basis, we tend to live fast and do what we have to do without even thinking about it. If we could slow down and actually think about how we feel every time we do something different, we might be able to figure out or understand our purposes and desires.
- Taking small steps and observing: It isn’t always easy or even economically possible to abruptly change our career and try what we think we’re passionate about. However, by taking small steps and continually observing how you feel while doing the things you do, you can make the change you need in your life. Taking online classes, joining a book club, learning how to do crafts… There’s a lot you can do that doesn’t require a huge change in your lifestyle.
- Making mistakes during the process is common: Finding your true passions may take a while, involving several tries and possible disappointments, where the balance between work and life is the ultimate reward.
Is it time for a renewal?
In some cases, having invested in education and time doesn’t mean that we need to dedicate our lives to that field. You can find yourself immersed in a profitable career but if it doesn’t fulfill your professional and personal goals, then change is a possibility. The Harvard Business Review listed the feelings you can experience when it might be time for change:
- “I feel trapped”: When losing interest and motivation in a job, it usually becomes difficult to discover what exactly is wrong and how to fix it.
- “I am bored”: Achieving goals and job satisfaction isn’t the same thing, and when we only focus on the end result but we don’t enjoy the process, we might find our job boring.
- “I am not the person I want to be”: Sometimes our routine is not compatible with who we are.
- “I won’t compromise my ethics”: When the requirements of our job aren’t aligned with our values.
- “I can’t ignore the call”: You can suddenly realize what your true passion is, or you might even receive a job offer that changes your personal and professional goals, and those are calls difficult to ignore.
- “Life is too short”: Sometimes a difficult life experience might make us realize the importance of living a meaningful and purposeful life.
The Harvard Business Review recommends various strategies to assess those feelings and try to find solutions:
- Time off: Sometimes it’s the best opportunity to reconnect with yourself and your aspirations.
- Guidance: Find a program that can inspire you towards your passion, guiding you to explore your dreams.
- Schedule time for self-examination: You can analyze how you feel during your daily routine and reflect on what would make you happier.
- Find external help: Advice from friends and family might not always be enough, and a professional coach can help you find your strengths and aspirations.
What are the benefits of passion for a work-life balance?
When we do what we’re passionate about, what we really enjoy doing, we wake up with motivation and energy. That, in turn, improves our mental health, because even though we may be busy and tired at times, we also feel complete and satisfied. Lethargy and fear for the future can diminish once we incorporate time into doing what feeds our soul.
Reflecting on the past is important; think about the jobs you have had, the education and courses you have taken, the things you do when you travel or even the first thing you do when you have some spare time. What did you enjoy the most from your last job? What do you always plan first when you arrive at a new destination? In every answer, you can find a piece of your passion.
Continue observing how you feel during your everyday life, both personally and professionally, and you’ll be able to get to know yourself and your passions, those passions that will bring energy and motivation to your life.
And don’t forget to reflect on your aspiration and future goals, as connecting with yourself on a daily basis is essential to live a purposeful and meaningful life, where passion can lead you to satisfaction in both your career and your personal life.
I am an experienced researcher who has a great passion for public and occupational health and digital technology. I aim to explore both psychological, biological, and social factors that affect individual wellbeing and happiness. As a graduate of Psychology and Health Science from the prestigious Technical University of Munich (TUM), my main aim is to promote how health knowledge can be effectively communicated to individuals and populations. I have a passion for digital health learning and ways to leverage technology to accelerate how behaviour can be positively changed.
Boyatzis, R., McKee, A., Goleman, D. (2002). Reawakening Your Passion for Work. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 26 February 2021, from https://kempstreetpartners.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Reawakening-Your-Passion-for-Work-Boyatzis-McKee-and-Goleman-2002.pdf
Jansen, N. W. H., Kant, I., Kristensen, T. S., & Nijhuis, F. J. N. (2003). Antecedents and consequences of work-family conflict: A prospective cohort study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 45(5), 479–491. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.jom.0000063626.37065.e8
The Oxford Handbook of Work Engagement, Motivation, and Self-Determination Theory. Oxford Library of Psychology. https://books.google.de/books?hl=es&lr=&id=mPOHAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA85&dq=benefits+of+passion+for+work&ots=hw6yMwnNYB&sig=bouul_D6JFIqC6u2W3HlPMgDSck&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=benefits%20of%20passion%20for%20work&f=false
The Unexpected Benefits of Pursuing a Passion Outside of Work. (2021). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 26 February 2021, from https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-unexpected-benefits-of-pursuing-a-passion-outside-of-work