Mallory Welsh, LCSW

Many of my clients discuss a lack of satisfaction within their jobs. Through talking to them, I can help uncover why they aren’t finding meaning in their career. For some, their career was chosen simply to pay their bills and provide for their family, which is why they may not be fully happy; they feel contempt for their current position and are simply looking to add more value to their day-to-day lives. Others are unsure and looking for a way out as soon as possible.

As a therapist, I help the client decide which route they want to go. It could be finding a way to accept their current job by adding small moments of value (such as self-care), or for others that are open to it, it’s helping them explore new career avenues that they have more of a passion for and turning that passion into a career.

I recently read an article by Liz Schumer from The New York Times titled, “Why Following your Passions is Good for You (and how to Get Started)” which examines this very topic. Schumer discusses different reasons why it is so crucial to follow your passions, whether they are as big as a career change or as small as daily self-care.

Below is a simple guide on why to follow your passions based on Schumer’s recommendations.

  • You just feel good. A 2015 study published in The Annals of Behavioral Medicine discussed that when following your passion, you are decreasing your overall stress and increasing your happiness. So why not do something you’re passionate about? The results from this study showed that 34% of the individuals reported that they felt less stressed and 18% reported to feel less sad when doing activities they were passionate about.
  • Get in the mode. Sure, we are all busy with work or kids or life, but every time we say “no” to doing something that we enjoy, we are saying to ourselves, “You’re not a priority in your own life.” Laura Vanderkam, a productivity expert, recommends thinking of time based on one given week. Once you track your time in a week, you will see where your free time is available for your passions.
  • Use your free time to the fullest! Now that you have tracked your time in a given week, use the time you are free to your fullest. Vanderkam also states it is important to turn your passions into an obligation, because this will keep you motivated. For example, if you are passionate about fitness, join a fitness studio where you pay for classes because you are more likely to show up. Why do this? It will increase your overall day-to-day happiness when you start following your passions.
  • Realistic expectations. Once you start this journey of following your passions, make realistic expectations. Know that there might be times that you do not get to participate in your passions every single day. Make your goals attainable to prevent yourself from feeling let down if you do not get to them; life has a tendency of allowing individuals to go off path here and there.
  • Build new skills. If you find that you are unsure of your passions, that is okay! Instead, perhaps consider building a new skill within your career. Doing this can help you feel more motivated to go to your job knowing you have a leg up on your coworkers.
  • Self-improvement = satisfaction. When clients are truly working on themselves, through finding a new passion or using self-care to cope with daily struggles, they are gaining satisfaction knowing they are working toward their better self. Doing this can give your day-to-day routines a new sense of meaning when you work toward internal growth.

While this list provides a variety of ways to integrate your passions into your daily self-care or career, try to focus on the one(s) that you think will help you most, as you truly know yourself more than anyone else. Once you identify what works best, try to be consistent with it.

If you are currently struggling with exploring your passions, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.