How to Find More Passion at Work

by Scott Crabtree

First of all, I mean passion for your work, not your colleagues! If you want help getting passion with your colleagues, you want a different blog! 🙂

Passion for your work is about energy and meaning.  It’s getting energized by your work, and finding–or creating–the meaning in your work.

Start with some basics. As I said when quoted in this article, paying some attention to the fundamental categories that bring happiness at work will help:

    • Get into ‘flow’ as you pursue your goals by focusing, undistracted, on a very challenging but possible task, for at least 20 minutes at a time. Get “in the zone.” Don’t multi-task. Multi-tasking tends to leave us distracted and drained. Flow leaves us feeling calm, focused, and energized all at the same time.
    • Practice positivity. That means having a good attitude, looking at the bright side, and being optimistic. Science tells us that a positive attitude and optimism really work to make you happier and therefore more productive. Try writing down your best possible future. Whether it comes true or not, writing down your best possible future will make you happier.
    • Prioritize people and relationships. The strongest influence on your happiness is the quality of your relationships. Invest time, energy, and attention in them. Start by expressing gratitude to those you appreciate.

While those are the key themes I use in my presentation The Science of Being Happy and Productive at Work, those brief summary points only scratch the surface. Let’s look more closely at one facet of practicing positivity that is especially crucial in finding passion for your work.

Do you have a job, a career, or a calling?

Work by Amy Wrzesniewski and colleagues shows that we typically choose one of three mindsets when thinking about our work:

1. It’s a job. I’m here primarily for the money. I have to work.

2. It’s a career. I’m advancing.

3. It’s a calling. The work itself is meaningful and rewarding to me. I see the impact I have on other people’s lives.

While the job you have certainly affects how you view it, you can also choose to change your view on the same job. A janitor in a hospital has a calling mindset because he views his work as the very foundation of health. The 24 administrative assistants in the above study were split between all three mindsets.

To shift your mindset toward a calling, find–or create–more meaning. Don’t ask yourself what you are doing at work, ask yourself why you are doing it. Whose lives will your work impact? What difference are you making? Think big. An administrative assistant doesn’t just make copies, he makes a difference in his boss’ life, and helps his boss make a difference in other people’s lives.

Using strengths–those things you are really good at and that energize you–can also make a real difference in your passion for work. You can read more about strengths in a recent Happy Brain Science newsletter, and in a post coming here in the next few months.

How do you find-or create-passion for your work?