Depending on which survey you read and where you live, somewhere between 70-80% of people are just plain miserable with their jobs.
If you spend 8 or more hours a day on the job, that counts for more than half of your waking hours during which you are either actively unhappy or just sporadically satisfied.
Of course unhappiness on the job has to spill over into the other areas of your life. If you are stressed, frustrated, undervalued, anxious, or bored, it will impact your relationships.
It will undermine your ability to relax and enjoy the time you spend away from work. And it could certainly impact your physical and mental health.
Far too many people are living lives of quiet desperation. They have jobs they hate, then come home to plod through chores and a few hours of TV, before returning to their miserable work the next day. They are not living passionately. They are not expressing their deepest desires, their inner calling, their authentic selves — through their work or otherwise.
When we live this way, the very essence of who we are and what makes us come alive, gets bottled up inside us. When we live this way for too many years, our frustrated souls call out for help through depression, anger, illness, or some form of self-sabotage.
In fact, Thomas More, a psychotherapist and author of the book Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, reminds that the most common reason he sees people in in therapy relates to “repression of the life-force.” When we don’t explore and nurture this life force, when we deny it expression in our work or lives, we are truly killing part of ourselves.
As Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, discovered in her research that happiness isn’t achieved through working long hours to make more money in order to buy more things. Happiness is achieved as a byproduct of expressing our life force through satisfying interpersonal connections, acts of kindness, focused engagement in what we are doing, and gratitude for what we have.
If you’ve been longing for your passion and waiting to find it, perhaps you’ve been searching in the wrong place. Or perhaps your perception of what it means to have a passionate life has been skewed by messages you’ve received from your parents, your peers, or our culture.
If you’ve wondered why you haven’t found your life passion and are deeply frustrated and fearful you may never find it, I encourage you to take heart. Your passion is there inside of you. It’s your “life-force” begging to be released and expressed in the world in some way.
Perhaps you just need some awareness around what’s been holding it back. Here are some on likely reasons that you haven’t found your life passion:
1. You haven’t committed the time required.
Finding your life passion requires more than wishing and hoping. It requires more than an occasional internet search or sending out a few resumes. It takes a commitment to the self-work involved in learning more about who you really are, what motivates and inspires you, and what internal and external roadblocks exist that get in your way. It takes a weekly commitment of a few hours to this work for several months.
2. You believe finding the “right job” is the key to your passion.
As I mentioned earlier, unhappiness on the job does taint your entire life. That’s why so many people begin their passion search by seeking a different job. But really you should begin the search by seeking yourself, seeking what you love — what makes you come alive. Then start practicing that thing in your own time. The details of how it will ultimately express itself in your life will evolve. Maybe through your work, maybe otherwise. But once you find what you love, you’ll find a way to do it.
3. You’ve over-complicated your life.
If you are distracted by all of the tasks and responsibilities of your lifestyle, then you don’t have the time or mental energy to pursue your passion. If you are already overwhelmed, then the notion of expending more energy to work on uncovering your life passion is ridiculous. Let go of some things, delegate, and clear out the clutter of your life so you can focus on finding your passion.
4. You listen to your own negative voices.
You have a cacophony of naysayers in your brain telling you all of the reasons you can’t change your life. You can’t afford it. You might fail. Your spouse will leave you. Your life will go to hell in a hand-basket. But you have no solid evidence that what those voices are telling you holds any truth. Ignore the naysayers. Stop listening to your negative voices and take action in spite of them.
5. You spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing.
In fact, spend just enough time in your head to brainstorm ideas, create strategies, and analyze potential challenges. Once you ponder those practical things, stop thinking and start doing. Take action on the ideas and inclinations. Action creates momentum, a sense of control over your destiny, and feelings of self-esteem.
6. You aren’t financially prepared.
Uncovering your passion and then figuring out how to make it part of your life will involve some amount of money. Whether you decide to go back to school, start a business, begin learning an instrument, take time off to write a book, move to new city — whatever your passion might involve — it will likely cost you something. But if you are in debt, or living paycheck to paycheck, or overspending on material things, or simply not saving, you are not financially prepared. Start getting your financial house in order so you have the cash you need to uncover and actualize your passion.
7. You have emotional “stuff” to address first.
If you are dealing with relationship problems, issues from your past, major life difficulties in the present, or emotional health challenges, these things need to be addressed before you can uncover your passion. In fact, addressing these things might actually help you uncover your passion. As you clear up problems in your life, you will create emotional space, energy, and creativity to focus on your passion. Talk to a counselor, coach, or other helping professional to work through these problems.
8. You fear making the wrong decision.
This is one of the most common reasons people never begin the search for their passion. They’re confused about what it might be, and even if they have some idea, they aren’t 100% sure. We want a solid guarantee that our efforts will be fruitful and that we won’t waste time and money. But finding your passion involves trial and error. You must experiment and test your potential passion before you know it really is your passion. In fact you may need to try several things before you land on the right one. But every experiment gives you valuable information. It is never a waste.
9. You believe it will arrive with trumpets blaring.
We tend to think that life passion will hit us like a thunderbolt. One day we’ll wake up and realize we should be a drum majorette or fire chief. But it very rarely happens this way. Finding your passion involves more of an “unfoldment” rather than a light bulb turning on. It is a slow realization, in the same way you might realize the person you’ve been dating is the one you want to spend your life with. Have patience as you work toward understanding yourself and figuring out where your desires, values and skills intersect with what the world needs.
10. You don’t trust yourself.
Your passion has been whispering to you ever since you were old enough to recognize what you enjoy, what fills you up and makes time disappear. But over time, the voice of your inner self has been silenced by all of the other voices you hear — your own and others. When you get back in touch with your inner self, your intuition, and your deepest desires, you’ll find you know more about what you want than you give yourself credit for. The key is practicing trust in that inner voice.