How to Not Quit on Purpose
Part 2: Connecting with Passion
This is Part 2 of a 3 part series. Part 1 introduced the series and the dilemma so many of us face. Despite its universal appeal and our desire for a different reality, the majority of us live our lives in a manner that prohibits or severely restricts our ability to explore our interests, pursue our passions, and discover our purpose. This series will help us secure a different outcome.
Part 1 also showed how our interests provide valuable clues we can use to move forward. Understanding and mapping our interests allow us to gain a better perspective about the things we were drawn to in the past and how they are the similar or different to the things that draw us today.
The fact is that our interests change and evolve over time. The same is true for our passions.
Our passion is our “Why”, a driving force that helps explain our motivations.
Simply stated, our passions attach meaning to our interests, and the meaning we attach dictates the priority, the energy, and the emotion we place on and commit to that interest.
For many good reasons, many of us had a passion for mastering our craft and making a name early in our careers. To this end, we attached meaning to our career development and advancement. Our passion enabled us to work all those crazy hours to impress the boss and secure that next opportunity and then repeat the cycle until we achieved the goals associated with that interest.
But what if we lose our passion?
What do we do when the interests of our past no longer have meaning?
How do we respond when activities that used to energize now drain, and maybe even evoke dread?
This loss happens for one of two reasons:
First, this happens when a pursuit is not our ultimate purpose or summit. In order words, that pursuit, no matter how successful, is not going to offer us the ultimate brand or platform meant for our lives. That pursuit was only a mountain or a milestone along the way to our summit.
The other reason is that we are on the wrong mountain. We are pursuing something that is not aligned with our summit. We either set off on the wrong trail or we veered off course.
If we lost our passion after achieving a certain level of success, all is not lost. We just need to take inventory of our achievements, survey where we stand, and connect that to where we started. We need to understand all there was for us to see and learn. We then need to celebrate and refresh, and, in that process, recalibrate and tap into the new passion or passions that emerge. At that point, we can move forward toward our next mountain or milestone.
As we discern the forces that will drive us forward, we need to understand that our passions can be either encouragements or burdens. They can be encouragements to create new opportunities or burdens to make things right. In either case, the drive to act will come from within.
But… how do we know if our lack of passion means we are on the wrong mountain? The answer is the presence of discontent. In this context, discontent is the opposite of passion.
“We know we may have veered off course if we have the presence of discontent.”
-Peter C. Atherton
Similar to passion, discontent emerges from within. However, as passion acts more like a green traffic light and friendly beep from behind, discontent acts more like a yellow caution flag or red stop sign. Discontent is simply feeling dissatisfied. It is our internal compass telling us something is off.
If we are feeling discontented, we need to take inventory of where we are and then connect that to what initially propelled us and what motivated us to keep going.
Did we want to seek justice, save the planet, right wrongs, help others, create jobs, or make a living?
What is it now, where do we stand, and where do we want to go?
At this point, we may need to trigger a restoration and rediscovery process to connect the pieces of our past and present. That is then followed by a retargeting and revitalization process to chart us toward a destination aligned with our drive. We call this the R&R 2.0™ process.
After years of so many of us just responding to life or being taken in the direction of our past, finding, understanding, and connecting with new passions that can drive us forward takes time. This takes time because those passions are ultimately tied to our purpose.
Tying all this together is the subject of our next blog, the final of this series: How to Not Quit on Purpose – Part 3: It Starts With Who, Not Why
To your winning,
PS – I invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute conversation HERE. We will walk through the I.M.P.A.C.T. process for organizations and I guarantee you will leave the call with a few new ideas and a clearer vision.
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About the Author
Peter C. Atherton, P.E. is an AEC industry insider with over 30 years of experience, having spent more than 24 as a successful professional civil engineer, principal, major owner, and member of the board of directors for high-achieving firms. Pete is now the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of “Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners”, and the creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process.
Pete is also the host of The AEC Leadership Today Podcast and leads The AEC Leadership Mastermind.
Pete works with AEC firms to grow and advance their success through modern and new era focused strategic planning, executive coaching, leadership and management team development, performance-based employee engagement, and corporate impact design. Connect with him through the contact link below.