Saturday, January 20, 2007

LIFE PASSION

Does everyone have a life passion for the type of work in which they want to be employed? Are there those who've never had a life passion for a specific careeer? Is it possible to develop such a life passion if you don't have one? How does someone determine their life passion? When does a person obtain a life passion? Can a person have more than one life passion?

What does someone do after identifying their aptitudes, their interests, then seeking education in those areas, but finds the career they are pursing is not likely to provide their desired personal satisfaction, level of income or life style? Should they keep trying to find a passion, especially as they near the beginnings of mid-life? Or, should they just seek employment they can do reasonably well that will provide the desired higher level of income? Should they allow monetary rewards to be their passion in lieu of anything else?

As individuals age beyond their twenties, into their thirties, forties and fifties, does their perspective change on seeking their passion, attitude toward educational training and the type of employment they want to pursue? Should they assume their choice once made is set in stone and that is the direction the rest of their life must take, especially if they're in their forties and fifties? Some of those questions have recently been asked of me, and have prompted all these thoughts.

I never thought in language terms of my "passion," at any age, but on reflection, my interests typically translate into my passion. For me the simple questions are, what do I like to do, how do I enjoy spending my time, what stimulates my enthusiasm, am I skilled in my work or can I become so, can I figure out a way to earn income while engaging in that interest, is at least some of what I am doing fun, is it challenging, are the duties varied and/or unpredictable to some extent since this helps fuel my energy? Will I have autonomy, be in a decision-making position? Will others with whom I would enjoy spending time and whose company I will be in daily be drawn to this type career ?

As I was thinking of career passions, I became aware of a recent issue of U. S. News and World Report which identified some of the promising careers for the future which might be of interest to some:
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/best_careers_2007/?s_kwcid=best%20jobs|625782613

If I am considering employment in an area of interest, depending upon my personal responsibilites for myself and others, obviously I have to think of salary, benefits, commuting requirements among other tangible and less tangible considerations. I also, want to know the potential for learning new skills, the opportunities for increased responsibility and advancement. If I find a broad interest (or passion,) I can cling to that, even branch out to distantly related areas of employment if that's the job opportunity, yet still incorporate that basic interest or passion into what I do in my work, or in activities in which I engage at other times.

I think a person without a specific passion, just needs to go with what interest(s) they can identify at the time and see where it leads them. I think they should always keep an open mind that they can change direction no matter where they find themselves. They must be prepared for the possibility that sacrifices may be required while trying to find a passion and even to pursue a found passion. Learn everything you can about what you pursue even if you aren't sure it's your passion. You never know when an idea or area of interest will take residence in your mind, saturating your thoughts, and you finally discover your interests have evolved to a deeper level, or a different one.

I've always been intrigued by those people who could identify a narrow passion, especially at an earlier age in life, cling to it at all cost, devoting their life to its pursuit. I believe a certain amount of selfishness is needed to reach their goal. I use the word selfishness in the most positive sense of someone meeting their personal needs, though I wonder if often those who lead their life thinking primarily of their own needs must be reasonably comfortable in their mind that others in their lives will be able to cope and will not need them.

I seemed always to find there were others in my life to whom I had some obligation for caregiving, resulting in my needing to adjust and adapt the pursuit of my personal passions to include consideration for them. I was conditioned to this way of life and thinking since childhood. I often found myself thinking in terms of how I could engage in some aspect of my passion, yet meet that obligation I had internalized.

The idea that someone doesn't recognize having a passion, or feels pressed to come up with one because they view the time line of their life to be narrowing their exploration opportunities, is somewhat different than my experience has been. Certainly when I returned to obtain further educational training to begin a new profession in mid-life, my thinking was that I'd have to be satisfied with that choice, since there would not realistically be years left for me to discover at the end I wanted something else.

I knew, given our culture, that if I needed to return to school once again for a second mid-life educational goal, that by the time I had finished training, my age would be such (late 50's, early 60's) that probably no one would hire me anyway, or that if they did, it wouldn't be with the idea of providing me with opportunities for advancement. I figured I would be a "pack horse employee" who joined the herd, did all the work, but could never expect to move beyond my "pack horse" status. That's not to say I wouldn't have worked as though I would be advanced, for it would have been my nature to do so, but I had seen enough of the world in various businesses, been privy to enough innuendos about older workers, and seen plenty of business practices, heard about even more from others, to know the reality of our culture's attitude toward the aging individual as employee.

I've known or read about individuals who say they just knew all their lives, from their earliest childhood memories, what they wanted to spend their lives doing -- teach, make discoveries in a laboratory, be a designer, engineer, lawyer, doctor, nurse, travel the world, be a writer, entertain people, and the list goes on. Others seem to take a different route, exploring different avenues before ultimately settling with a specific area of focus. I don't think there is an age criteria for finding that passion. I believe that occurs at differing ages for different people. Some individuals have changing or evolving passions throughout their lifetimes.

The only way I know to find one's passion is simply to experiment with a variety of different interests. I think whatever our age might be when we give serious thought to identifying our passion(s), we already know some of what definitely does not hold our interest, so we just proceed exploring other areas. I can imagine that as an individual gets older, going into their thirties, forties, and beyond there could be an increasing sense of age pressure to find one's passion, that there is less time to explore different interests.

Individuals do come to a point where personal financial security looms quite large. Ideally they would like the source of their income to be lucrative for the life style they desire. They want their income source to be derived from their passion. How realistic is this? How many people are fortunate enough to lead their lives with a lucrative income source directly related to their passion? Many of the people I know have held a variety of types of employment over the years. They have evolving changes in interests and interest levels.

We do have to narrow life down to what is really important to us. I don't negate the material aspects of life and derive as much pleasure as the next person from many of those luxuries. Some luxuries begin to seem like a necessity once we become accustomed to them, or if we even think we need them for whatever the reasons. There are those times when we may have to recognize there is a risk we will have to accept the bare basics of existence, and we must make up our minds to enjoy life with just those basics. We can continue to work for more, often successfully. Anything that comes to us at that point is extra for which we will likely be uniquely appreciative. Despite our self-doubting thoughts in our darkest hours, surprisingly, with perseverance, we often end up in life with far more than we ever imagined possible.

5 comments:

  1. Whew! Great food for thought here, Joared. As I was reading it, I thought about my passion for working with flowers and blogging. It is too bad I can't get paid for blogging...LOL...I'd have a nice paycheck each month.


    "The only way I know to find one's passion is simply to experiment with a variety of different interests."

    I think you're right and the more variety you can experiment with, the easier it will be to see what really IS a passion.

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  2. Ah, what a question.

    And it's one that has bugged me for a couple of years. At 52, I feel like I have let life just operate on auto-pilot, as if I had no control on my choices. Of course, when you are raising four kids without a college degree and a husband who is one taco short of an El Chico's combo plate, then choices seem rather decadent and unimportant.

    Now, I am entering a stage of life where choices are again a possibility and I am beset with a fear of making bad ones.

    Ah, choices.

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  3. If you have a life passion, fine--follow it. For most of us, I think, we have life semi-passions. Unless your kids are going to starve because of it, go with what seems appealing at the moment. Tomorrow, the appeal may change; but, if you're not doing something with great enthusiasm, you and the world are being cheated. We were always sold the bill of goods, when I was a kid, that we would be one thing--for life. Hah! We can be many different things for periods of time.
    Cop Car

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  4. "... but I had seen enough of the world in various businesses, been privy to enough innuendos about older workers, and seen plenty of business practices, heard about even more from others, to know the reality of our culture's attitude toward the aging individual as employee."

    Perhaps this is true, but as the new 30 is at 40 years now, and the new 40 is at 50 years, perhaps this perception will change also.

    I can't believe I fell upon your blog and this post as I am thinking of going to get my college at 48 yrs old. I don't know where it will lead me, if I will get my degree or not, but it will be a learning adventure, to be sure, and one that I am currently passionate about.

    Thanks for thoughts!

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  5. I can't imagine not having a passion (or two). Certainly, as I grow my passions change, but I am usually left with more passion than I am time in a day :-)
    Lisa Dunn

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