Combine your talent with your passion

By Tom O'Neil

Not looking forward to work on Monday? Unhappy in your job but feel the money's too good to give up? Take the time to reassess that old adage 'Love your job and you will never work another day in your life'.

Doing a job you are passionate about is key to personal and career success. Photo / Getty Images
Doing a job you are passionate about is key to personal and career success. Photo / Getty Images

As a specialist in careers and personal development, I regularly come across people who are financially successful in their career, however leave a trail of destruction in their personal lives, as their natural passion is being crushed by a job they are talented at but really hate.

According to a recent Leadership Management Australasia survey, six out of every 10 Kiwis hate or dislike their job. This equates to more than one million people in New Zealand not looking forward to Mondays and living only for weekends and holidays.

While this is sad, what amazes me most is that the vast majority of these people stay in their career for 40-odd years until retirement.

Alternatively, a 2012 UK City & Guilds survey stated that nine out of 10 florists and gardeners said they were happy in their job.

To have a fulfilling life and career, it's imperative to merge what you are good at with what you are passionate about, ensuring you actually enjoy the hours between Sunday night and the following Saturday morning.

Once you find an area you are passionate about and want to develop further, you will now need to see how you can leverage across into this exciting new career from your current job.

A great way to achieve this without a massive drop in pay is to seek an industry matching your passion, and just do what you are currently getting paid to do. For example you are an accountant working for a professional services firm, however your passion is the sea and everything marine.

One option would be to swap industries by getting a senior-level finance role with a large boat builder or maritime business. This way you get to work near the sea, develop strong relationships and networks with people in the industry and still get paid for your level of skill.

Another option is to study part-time towards your dream career while in your current position. Just knowing you are on a new path can make your current job bearable, until that time comes to step out into your new opportunity. There are a wide range of great online tools out there to help you determine your passion and aligned career path.

Career Quest is an excellent assessment that allows you to find jobs that match your interests, rather than just your skills.

As it is a New Zealand based site, it is highly relevant to today's market and also provides very good information in relation to individual job tasks and responsibilities, pay and progression, the likelihood of employment as well as training and qualifications required to enter the industry.

A word of warning, however - don't ruin your hobby! Some people love to garden and potter around in the dirt, however working as a landscape designer would mean a lot of travel, working in the rain and snow and pitching in during the odd weekend.

Gardening is a great hobby and escape from work for many people, but think hard and long about the implications of your passion being your career over the long term.

You may well have to take time out to study and probably have to drop income, not so good if you have two cars on finance and a $500,000 mortgage.

Make sure moving into your new exciting passion as a career is not a pipe dream, but a series of measured steps getting you closer to your goal each day.

What is success to you? Remember that doing a job you are genuinely passionate about is key to your personal and career success.

Pursue what others are passionate about, rather than what you love, and you will always be disappointed.

Find your passion

Ask yourself three questions and make a list for each:

1. What do I enjoy doing?

2. What am I good at?

3. What are those things that give me a sense of purpose, and connect "me" with "me"?

4. Revisit your childhood. What did you love to do?

5. Make a list of people who are where you want to be. However, don't look at this from only a pure career sense, think about people you know who are where you want to be spiritually, emotionally and financially. Ask them how they got to where they are now and assess what learning you can apply in your life.

6. If you were free from all the things that limit you and hold you back, in what direction would you go for your career?

7. Don't be afraid to fail! Get out and try new things to see if they "stick".

8. Imagine your funeral and ask what you want your eulogy to consist of. What would be your lifetime achievements and the difference you made to those around you? How many of these are you doing right now?

9. What are the skills that come to you without any effort? Do you just "get" how engines work, do you find it easy to get on with almost anyone or can you make anything grow? What are some of the things you are a "natural" at?

Tom O'Neil is author of Selling Yourself to Employers and managing director of CV.CO.NZ. Contact him at

- NZ Herald

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