• How to find your career energizers

    January 31, 2017 | curtrosengren
  • If someone waved a magic wand and gave you the opportunity to create a career based exclusively on what lights you up, could you do it? What would it look like? What inner source of energy would it tap into? 

    One of the two core continuums of The Aliveness CODE TM runs from drained to energized (the other is from constricted to open). Today, I want to share an approach to moving the needle towards energized specifically in your career.

    A perspective shift

    One of the biggest mistakes I have seen when people start thinking about pursuing passion in their career is a limited perspective on what that means.

    “I love travel,” the traditional follow-your-passion thinking goes, “so I should be a travel photographer.” Or, “I love cooking, so I should be a chef.”

    I want to share a different way of thinking about creating a career that lights you up, one that expands the potential to feel energized and inspired by the work you do beyond the obvious options.

    It’s an idea at the heart of my career passion work, and over the years I have found it to both simple and extremely effective.

    Here’s the perspective shift that can change everything. Stop thinking of passion as being about doing what you love. Instead, shift your focus to why you love what you love, and look for opportunities to experience that.

    It’s not just about WHAT you love, but WHY

    Let’s start first with a functional definition of passion. You could get a dozen people and get a dozen different defintions. Here’s mine: Passion is “the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.”

    It’s about aligning what you do with who you are. It’s about doing the kinds of things, in the kinds of ways, towards the kinds of outcomes, with the kinds of people, etc. that naturally energize you.

    The big question then is, “How do you bring more of YOU into what you do?” How do you make conscious, intentional decisions that align with what energizes you?

    The trouble with using what you love as a guide is that it doesn’t tell the whole story. Two people can both say the same thing – “I love travel,” for instance. But they might actually be speaking two completely different languages.

    When you say “I love _____,” what’s left unsaid is, “because ______, ______, and _______.” The reasons why two people love something can be vastly different.

    So what the first person loves about travel might be the exploration and discovery, never knowing what’s around the next corner, and the stimulation of the new.

    The second person might say, “Yeah, that’s fun, but what I really love is the planning, preparation, and logistics. And the problem-solving on the fly based on the preparation I did before I left.”

    Those are two completely different experiences.

    Now let’s say the person energized by the exploration and discovery says, “I know, I’ll get a job coordinating tours for a travel company. It will be perfect!” And within a week they want to jump off a bridge, because the job is all about details and logistics. It has nothing to do with where the energy of travel is for them.

    Ultimately, if you want to bring more of YOU into what you do, it can’t be at the level of what you love. It has to be at a level that is unique and individual to you – why you love it.

    How to identify your energizers

    Here’s the step-by-step approach I use with my clients.

    1. Make a list of all the things that have lit you up over the course of your life. These can be work or play, it doesn’t matter. You could list jobs, projects you’ve worked on, hobbies, classes or subjects in school, extracurricular activities, etc.

    2. Reverse engineer them to identify the reasons why. For each item from that list, ask, “Why do I love this? Why is this so much fun? Why is this so energizing?”

      List all the reasons you can think of. But don’t stop there. Go back to each of those reasons why and ask “why?” again. Each reason why offers a starting point to go deeper.

      It’s tempting to just go one level down and call it done. Resist that urge! You’ll be leaving valuable insight on the table. Challenge yourself to go down at least four layers of why.

    3. Identify the common themes. As you explore multiple things from your list, you will start to see common themes in why you love what you love. Recurring reasons why will keep showing up, even in things that look like they have nothing in common. Those are your energizers.

      For example, on the surface my Passion Catalyst coaching, my travel photography hobby, and my love of doing genealogical research look like apples, oranges, and kumquats. No commonality at all. But if you peel back the layers, you can see they each offer an opportunity for me to experience exploration and discovery, one of my biggest energizers.

    4. Compile them. As the themes emerge, put them all in one place. Remember the definition of passion? Passion is the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do. With all the underlying reasons why you love what you love in one place, you have a snapshot of who you are, specifically as it relates to what energizes you.

      That means you have a way to consciously, intentionally make decisions that bring more of what energizes you into the picture.

      Putting all of the underlying themes that tend to be there when you feel energized and engaged creates a tool. I think of it as a compass that points the way to the paths that will light you up. You can use it to both evaluate choices (am I likely to feel energized in this job? Will this project light me up?) and brainstorm new directions (what are the paths that would allow me to experience these underlying themes?).

    A different way of thinking about passion

    Understanding the underlying reasons why you love what you love opens up a shift in how we think about passion. Instead of “what’s my passion,” you can ask, “what jobs and careers will allow me to experience these energizers?” The job becomes a vehicle for you to experience the underlying themes that tend to be there when you’re on fire.

    And that opens up a LOT more possibilities for an energized career than simply asking, “What is my passion?”

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