While children in kindergarten learn the alphabet and figure out the easiest way to count to 10 is by using their little fingers, they’re also often asked a simple question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” After shouting their answers, the classroom is then filled with ambitious five-year-olds who have hopes of being space cowboys, ballerinas, rock stars and superheroes.
Because this loaded question is embedded into people’s minds at such a young age, it can only be assumed that since they have so much time to think about it, everyone should be spending their lives doing something they’re passionate about.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
According to a survey done by Gallup, a research-based performance-management consulting company that conducts nationwide polls, about 71 per cent of people are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their jobs.
There are several explanations for this staggering statistic, but it’s possible that the reason so many people are unhappy with their careers might be because they are not doing something that they are passionate about. But how does someone figure out what exactly that is?
In an article posted on The Positivity Blog, Barrie Davenport, a life coach and blogger for Live Bold and Bloom, says individuals will know they’re really passionate about their careers when it feels euphoric and thrilling like being in love with someone.
“The feelings are similar when you have a life passion. You experience those same feelings of aliveness and joy,” she says in the blog.
“It creates the same aura of general happiness and positivity because it ignites an internal spark of deep interest, creativity and fulfillment in your life. These feelings provide the energy to deal with all aspects of your life more easily. You gain clarity about everything in your life.”
Trish Holloway, a junior kindergarten partner at West Ridge Early Education Centre in Orillia, spent 16 years of her life working with a youth leadership camp and had every position from a councillor to the camp director.
“I knew from a young age that I wanted to work with kids but I didn’t know which way it was going to go,” she says.
After being a camper for a few years and helping babysit the owner’s children, Holloway was offered an administrative position at the camp and took it. She thought this would be a great career because there are chances for promotions and she would work directly in a place with youth.
Over the years, Holloway’s interaction with kids became less and less as she climbed the camp’s corporate ladder.
“I was filing, sending out camp information, maintaining the finances and much more,” she says.
“I was also working long hours and rarely had time to spend with my husband.”
Although she loved her job, Holloway resigned from the camp in 2012 and took a bold step into the unknown.
“I’m 32 and I’ve never had to really put out resumes, go to interviews, dress in professional clothing,” she says.
“But I knew I had to do something different. Something that would make me feel like I was doing something valuable and that would fit with my lifestyle.”
She realized that since her main career goal is to work directly with children, she should apply for jobs at day cares. Because of her history of working at the camp, her present employer hired her as the junior kindergarten partner. She plans to go back to school to become a teacher.
“In today’s society, having only one job or career plan is not realistic,” Holloway says.
“Do what you love and be ready for many different jobs. It’s not 1950 anymore and you don’t go to school, graduate and then have your dream job forever.”
Holloway suggests that for people who are on a journey to find their life’s passion, they should just do what they like but not to be afraid to have a plan A, B and C.
She believes many people have a wide variety of different passions and should go after all of them. She says people should embrace every hobby that brings them happiness and engage in it, even if it’s not in a career sense.
“I could not have looked into a crystal ball and knew that I would have worked in the food and beverage industry, in hospitality at a middle management level, in an outdoor recreation centre as a creative director and now find myself nestled in a classroom as a junior kindergarten classroom partner,” she says.
Holloway, a new mother, recommends that people invest in as much education as possible, especially while they are young.
“I am in my 30s now, trying to manage a family and going back to school and it is hard,” she says. “Some days it hurts and my body is so broken by the end of the day.”
She says people should try to find a job that they love, and if they don’t want to stay in it, to remember that it’s OK to move on.
“I think people settle on jobs because they get stuck and because change is tough,” she says. “It’s easier to stay in a role that is routine.”
She thinks people should remember that there are individuals getting paid to do incredible things, such as spray painting graffiti art, inventing video games, flying helicopters and skateboarding professionally.
“If you love it, make it your life.”
Phil Doucette, also known as Philly D, is a professional motivational speaker for elementary schools across Canada, the author of Leading your Life, and the owner of three Moksha Yoga studios in Winnipeg and Minneapolis. He says that everyone’s story is different and at the end of the day, it comes down to doing what he or she loves to do. For Doucette, his passions were connected with the art of storytelling.
“This has always been at the root of all the things I do,” he says.
“I use stories to teach, inspire and invigorate people to take action in their own lives.”
Doucette, who was also a speaker at a Ted Talks event in Manitoba in 2011, says his calling to help people came from the connections he made in his life and it has always been about relationships.
“I was fortunate enough to have wonderful teachers who pushed me and challenged me to do something with my ability to get people’s attention,” he says.
Today’s generation alters their careers at least five times, and Doucette believes that the reason behind this is simply change.
“Our experiences call for action and that helps us be a part of the change,” he said.
He thinks an individual will know when it’s time for a career change when they’re in a place where their spirit is being pulled down.
“It simply might invite you to see the same thing with new eyes,” he says.
“Open your spirit up and leap forward. You will always end up where you are supposed to be.”
There are many people who choose to settle for careers that they don’t find stimulating and Doucette thinks it happens because it is what they’re supposed to do, like being able to care for their families. However, he doesn’t think it’s a bad thing.
“Where life gets stuck is when you’re unhappy,” he says.
“By this I mean it doesn’t matter what you do for a living. Your success and happiness is determined by who you are as a person.”
For anyone who is trying to find his or her life passion, Doucette says to live life fully but to realize that it probably won’t look like what they thought it would.
“Don’t be discouraged. Just look back and see how you grew, who you became and the people you met along the way.”