When I was in college and ran competitively for my school's cross country and track teams, I devoted myself completely to running.
Running, training and competing was all I thought about. For better or worse, it affected how I ate, slept, studied and socialized. It was more than a desire that kept me going, it was a need. I was passionate about running. I was obsessed.
I needed to run every day and push myself to get to a higher level, no matter how it affected me otherwise. I never wanted to take a day off, so I even ran when I should have rested, which probably held me further from my goals.
Now, however, I run for other reasons. I'm still passionate about running, but I don't run for need. I run to relax, feel healthy, and reduce stress. I also use it as a way to keep myself motivated and feeling good at work and home. It's something that supports my life and career in a positive and harmonious way.
The psychologist Robert Vallerand identified two types of passion that people experience- Obsessive passion, the passion that's more rigid and is more of a "need" in life; and Harmonious passion, the passion that isn't overpowering and operates in harmony with other aspects of your life.
Obsessive passion, in the long term, can affect us negatively in multiple areas of our lives because there is a need to pursue it at all costs. Harmonious passion, on the other hand, isn't driven by need, but rather by desire. It fulfills us, makes us happier, but doesn't control us.
Think about this in terms of your career. What are your interests, skills, strengths that you consider "passions," and make you happier to pursue in your work life?
Which aspects of your career would you define as "obsessive" or "harmonious"? How do they fit in to your life in and out of work?
If it's an "obsessive" passion, how is it affecting your job performance? For example, you might be obsessed with preserving your reputation with your colleagues at work. How does that manifest itself in your work, and do those behaviors really help you move ahead? Explore where these passions might be hurting you and see how you can consider pulling back.
As for your "harmonious" passions, how do you see them supporting you and fitting into your life? Which of these passions make you feel more in "flow" and excited to include them into your work life. If you're passionate about being creative, for example, where can you add that to your daily work tasks, or outside of work so it feels like you're fulfilling that desire to push you forward, rather it feeling like life support?
Being passionate about your career and aspects of it isn't a bad thing, but it's important to reflect how that passion fits in to your overall goals and the progress you're making towards them. Do your passions complement your work life in a harmonious way that you desire to have more of them? Or do they hold you back out of obsession and need to pursue them at all costs?
In your search for more passion in your career, focus on the things that support you and make you feel happy and fulfilled without requiring excessive sacrifice. Devoting more time to your harmonious passions will make you feel excited, motivated and encouraged to work towards your bigger career goals.
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