3 Steps to Turn Burnout into Passion-Filled Purpose
Do you enjoy what you do every day? Do you wake up raring to tackle the next challenge?
Everyone can relate to doing a job they don’t enjoy. In fact, most Americans say they don’t look forward to going to work each day.
According to Gallup research, “An astounding 70% of U.S. employees are not showing up to work fully committed to delivering their best performance. Adding insult to injury, 52% of those workers are basically sleepwalking through their day, and 18% of them are busy acting out their unhappiness.”
Clearly, plenty of people simply aren’t lit up by what they do every day. At best, they feel intense ambivalence toward it. At worst, they hate it.
They show up and go through the motions, droning on day after day, week after week, year after year, eventually forgetting the passion that once fueled them so long ago.
The thought of fulfilling what they’re meant to do, if it ever existed at all, has long ago been shoved aside by the tyranny of the urgent.
Should You Bail Out or Dig In?
Let me be candid: if you are in a job you aren’t passionate about, you may need to start laying out a plan to pursue another path that better aligns with your passion.
In my experience, if you can align your passion with what you do at least two-thirds of the time, there’s no need to panic and jump ship. If not, you may need to make a move.
But before you do, I suggest you get clear on your passion first, because the problem may not be your job or organization at all.
The issue may be that you don’t have clarity about what lights you up or don’t know how to align that passion with the greater purpose of your organization.
Progress Begins with Purpose
Your purpose is largely made up of three components: what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at, and the sweet spot where you can make a living bringing those two together.
- Your Passions. Start by listing all the things you would do for free simply because they make you feel fulfilled. Remember, inspiration may influence you, but passion moves you. When you’re tapping into passion, think, I cannot not do this. What do you love doing so much that it doesn’t even feel like work? But passion alone isn’t enough. It has to align with the reality of…
- Your Strengths. Analyze your strengths and talents and factor them into the purpose equation. For example, you can be passionate about singing, but not be able to carry a tune in a bucket. You may long to be the life of every party but be wired to make your highest contribution in strategic thinking and reflection. In addition to taking assessments designed to uncover your natural personality and wiring, consider these three things:
- Know what you’re good at—and what you’re not good at.
- Discover what energizes you—and what drains you.
- Identify what recharges you—and what decharges you.
For example, when I get in front of an audience and start teaching principles and helping people, something amazing happens. Even when I come into the room exhausted, I get re-energized by the experience and walk out with more energy than I had walking in. Not surprisingly, that strength zone is where you’ll deliver your best results in…
- Your Opportunities. Where do your passions and strengths intersect? That’s where you’ll find a competitive advantage, a place where you can deliver something unique to the workplace and, for that matter, the broader marketplace. Your oppotunity sweet spot is where you have the greatest potential to make your highest contribution, doing what you love in a way that is profitable to other people and rewarding to you.
Pro Tip: Your sweet spot has to make sense in the marketplace if you’re going to make a living pursuing it. I’ve known many people who’ve launched into the speaker business by quitting everything else and simply declaring, “I’m going to be a speaker.” It never lasts long.
People ask me all the time, Chris, how do you do what you’re doing?
My counsel is this: develop your sweet spot role on the side until your audience demands your full attention. That’s when you can allow yourself to fully focus on your purpose-driven passion.
Take Your Passion With You
It’s one thing to be in a job you hate. It’s another thing to be in a job where you do well and make good money, but lack respect for the leader or passion for the work.
That’s a trap that keeps good people paralyzed every day. They choose to remain a cog in the wheel rather than find and focus on what lights them up.
InSPIRED leaders discover what they were made to do and then pursue it with abandon. So, my question is this: if you’re going to do anything in life, why not do something that lights you up?
If you’re going to do anything in life, why not do something that lights you up?
The beauty of this mindset is that the brighter you are, the brighter you make your world. I want to do something that lights up the world. I want to light it up in a way that lights others up and encourages them to live out their unique brilliance.
That’s why I walked away from a good career many years ago to build a great life.
Let me be clear: I’m not advising everyone to quit their jobs tomorrow—or ever, for that matter. Not at all.
In fact, what I am suggesting is that the disengagement so many people feel is a direct result of the disconnect between personal passion and organizational purpose.
The responsibility to close that gap lies both with the individual to get clear on his or her passion and with company leadership to create a culture that resonates with a bigger and better why.
The disengagement so many people feel is a direct result of the disconnect between personal passion and organizational purpose.
People aren’t like matches. Burnout isn’t the end.
It’s never too late to rediscover what lights you up and bring that same purpose and passion to wherever you decide to live, work, and lead.
I challenge you to invest intentional time this week to revisit these three elements—your passions, your strengths, and your opportunities—and rediscover why you started your journey in the first place.
It changes everything.