The last decade of economic turbulence and technological shifts has transformed many work expectations and norms. The admonishment of my parents and those of my generation was to “do well in college, find a job in your field” to build a lifelong career and make as much money as possible. This idea persists. However, younger members of the workforce see both their tenure in a job or career and their motivation very differently. Statistics reveal that this generation views a company job as a temporary hub. And over 55% declare making a difference or doing something they enjoyed as their top priority.
This perspective is not only shared by Millennials. An increasing amount of older adults have begun to question their previous ideas about their work lives. They are asking questions of themselves as well as others, around the dinner party table, about what matters and how to realign their lives.
The old debate pitting passions against skills has begun to pop up.
Passion encourages, “Do what you love. Fulfillment awaits. The money will come.” While Skills heralds, “Do what you’re trained to do. Do what you’re good at. Earn a living. Fulfillment will come.”
I believe that these two do not have to be in perpetual conflict. In fact, any pursuit of either, independent of the other, would more likely result in discontentment. Passion and skills in concert result in a thriving life.
For me, this fusion is demonstrated best in entrepreneurship.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not an easy marriage. (Is any marriage easy???) The paradigm shift from traditional ideas about work to one that heavily relies on what I create is both daunting and exhilarating. This phenomenon affects the passion/skills collaboration. Most people around the entrepreneur have no clue of the regular internal struggle they grapple with.
At least once every week or so, I receive news of a “perfect” job for me in my previous industry. The messengers mean well. They believe that they are helping me to avoid the pitfalls of entrepreneurship. Some know of my previous success and want to help me out. And during those difficult days when things look bleak, I do consider their suggestions…for about two seconds. Then I remind myself (or another entrepreneur friend does the job) that what I am doing is my sweet spot, where my passions and purpose intersect with my skills set.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, you can begin to bring these aspects of yourself in sync, in your current “work” situation. Think about your passions and natural gifting. Consider the skills that are already in your hands. Ask yourself, “How can I use these now?”
My friend, Caryn, did this. She is committed to helping others live healthy with good food and good eating habits as a basis. Caryn had a tragic experience with her health several years ago. She contracted a mysterious virus while living abroad. Medical professionals were at a loss as to how to treat her. As a result, she lost hearing in one ear. An alternative health practitioner suggested that she take a closer look at her diet. Caryn altered her food choices and noticed some improvement with her health.
Caryn was always creative in the kitchen. (Her dream is to one day be on one of those cooking shows where you don’t know what you’re required to cook until you open the box of ingredients! Yeah…she’s that good!) Her new experience with food sparked her passion in this area. Subsequently, she developed her skills to become a certified integrative health coach, where she works one on one with clients to achieve their health goals. She is also studying to be a licensed nutritionist. (There’s so much she wants to know and do for her clients.) Now, she uses her passions and skills in her business, Appetites for Life.
Maybe your journey will not include changing careers like Caryn, or me. But you can begin to think about how you may combine your skills set with your passions where ever you are. Maybe it will be through local groups or organizations that serve a population that you care about. Maybe it will be through a series of preparations for when you can leave your current job to do something new.
Whatever ideas come to mind, write them down. Meditate on them. Think BIG. Use your imagination. Then write down the other ideas that come from that. Ideas are like seeds. Water and feed them, and they grow other ideas.
At the end of your days, you want to be able to look back on your life and not just consider the amount of money or stuff you’ve amassed. Your true mark on the world will be in the expression of your passions and skills coming together to create something meaningful.
Until next time…