Find a Career that Gives You Passion in Six Easy Steps

By Zachary Olson

Everyone’s been lured into those seminars that are supposed to teach you THE SECRET to something, like finding happiness and blah blah blah, but then you end up just wanting to leave as soon as possible because they’re telling you things that seem like just common sense. But then sometimes, if you’re lucky, the speaker asks you to actually do one of their exercises, and your ego completely deflates as you realize you’re not actually doing these simple things.  I had one of those moments in Dr. Mrim Boutla’s session about choosing a socially conscious career at the 2011 Social Enterprise Symposium. This is basically how the session started:

“Align your career with your passions!” Really? I should choose a job that I like doing? What a mind-blowing concept. 47 minutes left until I can leave and get some free food.

“Write down your top 6 passions.” I like my job, thanks. …If I were to do it, though (which I’m not), I guess I’d list things like web design and development and something to do with economic development or education and something about being outside and travel… None of which I get from my new internship (queue animation of ego shriveling up into a prune).

Now that I had official confirmation that I’m stupid and my life sucks, I figured I might as well listen to what Dr. Boutla had to say and actually do the exercise. Essentially, after you think of your six passions, write down how you’ve incorporated them into your life in the past, present, and ways that you could use each of them in your life more in the future. Here’s mine:

  1. Web Design / Development
    1. Worked as a web developer for a couple of organizations
    2. Not much… Some programming at my new internship.
    3. Work as a web developer after graduation? Volunteer services?
  2. Economic Development and Education
    1. Not too much, some assorted volunteer projects
    2. Volunteering at Grameen Foundation
    3. Same as Web development – potentially work for an organization / business doing something in this area or continue to volunteer
  3. Being Outside – Hiking, walking around the city, etc.
    1. Used to work in  nicer area of DC, walked part of the way to work
    2. Not much, don’t have time to talk to work and work is in a boring part of town.
    3. While this seems silly, maybe work in an area I like? Or at least try to make more time for walks, camping trips, etc.
  4. Architecture
    1. Not much, basically just making houses with The Sims
    2. Even less, my friend lost my copy of The Sims L
    3. Buy a new copy of The Sims? Or make some time / money to travel a little and see interesting architecture
  5. Working with people – tutoring, collaborating on projects
    1. Group projects for school, etc
    2. Same, groups projects in every class this semester
    3. Find a career that allows me to work with teams, rather than alone in a cube
  6. Organizing, planning
    1. Planning class schedules, planning out project work schedules, class work, etc.
    2. Same
    3. Similar to #5, work on multiple projects, take change of managing schedules

Ok, I realize the last one sounds a little crazy, but I do get some freakish pleasure from looking at my beautifully planned out schedule and to-do list, and I was sort of running out of ideas; it turns out I’m actually a really boring person with not many interests.

Anyway, the point of all this is that, even though working with your passions seems like an incredibly simple concept, if you actually sit down and work through this, I guarantee you’ll find that there are something that you’re not getting enough of.

If you want to find out more about Dr. Boutla and her career counseling program, the More than Money League, go to http://www.events.icohere.com/MTML/

What are your passions? How have you managed to incorporate them into your life?

The posts on this page are contributed by students from the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business in conjunction with the newly launched Center for Social Value Creation. The center's mission is to develop leaders with a deep sense of individual responsibility and the knowledge to use business as a vehicle for social change. These posts are a way to continue the dialogue outside of the classroom and share the viewpoints of Smith students on the challenges and opportunities of triple bottom line thinking.