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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

What to Do When Your Passion's Burning You Out

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Have you heard a story like this before?

Kate finds her dream job. Kate loves it! Kate gets burnt out. Kate gets sad. Finally, Kate wonders if maybe there’s no real passion out there for them.

What do you do if you’re Kate?

I have some answers—but first, it’s time for some hard truths.

Truth #1: Passion Will Tire You Out

Let’s put down the flowers and unicorns and have some real talk: I love passion. I think we all need to be working from a place of passion. And I want you to find your passion, because you deserve it!

But finding it can be hard. And doing it can be even harder. And you know what? That’s normal.

We don’t go after our dreams because they’re easy (easy is for hobbies!).

We follow them because of a deep desire to find something that aligns with our souls. The kind of alignment that makes us feel like we belong in this world, and more importantly, that we bring something to this world.

I know it’s an uncomfortable truth. Doing what you love will occasionally burn you out.

When you do work you truly care about, it’s hard to shut it off. It’s easy to constantly be thinking about it—even when you’re trying not to. It tugs at your soul. And when things tug at your soul you answer.

But wow, that’s tiring! You’re a person and not a machine. So even things you absolutely love will sometimes drag you down.

If you’re feeling this way, I want you to take a vacation. If that’s not possible, take a day off. If that’s also out of the question, start working on unplugging at the end of the workday as much as possible.

For most of us, that’s enough to get the spark back.

Truth #2: You’re Confusing Your Job With Your Passion

Many people use the words “job” and “passion” interchangeably, which can lead to a lot a heartache when you feel like you only have one passion out there in the world. Suddenly finding your next job because as hard as finding the one.

Instead, I advocate a different way of thinking: Your passion’s rooted in who you are and what you have to offer the world. Your job is how you express that passion on a daily basis. So, while your passion may stay the same, your job can change.

What happens to most of us over time is that we grow, evolve, and change. We have kids, we learn new things, and our perspective about what we value starts to change.

What’s important in a job at 22 can be very different from what’s important at 32 or 52. When you first start out, it might be creativity, flexibility, and growth. Later down the road, routine, promotions, and mentoring might grow in value.

So, if you find a role that used to totally fuel you starting to drag you down, and time off does not help, then it might be time to look more closely at your values, and at what’s important to you now—versus what was important to you when you took the job.

It’s OK to want to move on from your dream job, or want to redefine it in some way to match the person who you have become over the last few years.

In fact, it’s completely normal.

So, my challenge to you is to get away and really think about your job. Grab some coffee and a pen and ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Where is the fatigue coming from? Be specific. Is it your boss? Your tasks? Your routine?
  2. If you could redesign your job right now to combat some of the stress or fatigue, what would be different?
  3. And finally, what’s calling to your soul now—and why?

Take a moment and review what you’ve written down. If what’s calling to your soul now is what you’re doing as your work, that’s amazing! Now look at your answer to #2 and see if there anything you wrote down is actually possible. Could you ask for more flexible hours? Maybe for your boss to give you feedback in a different way? You likely can’t redesign your entire job, but you might be able to make a few adjustments that’ll help.

If what’s calling to your soul is different from what you’re doing now, that’s OK! Take a look at what you wrote down as answers to first two questions and use those as a guide to help you figure out where you want to go next. That’ll help give you energy and focus to pursue your next big thing.

Finally, if you have no idea as to what is calling to your soul, that’s OK too! Sometimes we just need to acknowledge what isn’t working before we can start to figure out what will.

Give yourself a break, and keep your notes handy as answers will start to come. Take a break, give yourself some downtime, and do something that makes you happy. You’ll create some space for answers soon enough!

Want more structured help with with figuring out your passion, or don’t know where to begin? No worries, this free (and short) workbook will help you find work you love (you deserve it!).