Most people can relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed, frustrated, or outright fed up with their 9 to 5. There are different factors that contribute to this feeling that virtually everyone can relate to—at some point in the lifespan and even throughout adult life. Even if you’re fortunate enough to love, or even like, your job there are always those instances when you fantasize with walking out and never coming back.
Factors such as the occasional (or frequent) pressure and stress; the monotony and repetition of daily tasks; the morning alarm that you dread almost as much as your commute; counting the seconds until 5 p.m.; the responsibility and need for that paycheck; and dealing with the sometimes-complex interactions co-workers, supervisors, and/or the public are some of the reasons why work can sometimes drain you, physically and emotionally. They don’t call it the daily grind for nothing.
Maybe you tend to have a love-hate relationship with your job and then there are the moments, particularly during difficult economic times, that you’re grateful for having a job—for being able to get up in the morning and seize the day.
Sometimes it’s the sheer repetition of it that can lead to your work aversion or maybe you’re like many people who pursue jobs and careers that they really aren’t passionate about. If this sounds like you, rest assured that you are definitely not alone. Pursuing your passion—and trying to make money from it—is a dream that many people don’t fulfill. When I say your ‘passion,’ I’m referring to that hobby, activity, or talent you likely first discovered as a child or adolescent. You immediately knew you loved it. When you do it, you feel whole, fulfilled, and like everything is right in the world. It brings you happiness and comfort and serves as a refuge (or an escape) from your duties and responsibilities of the day.
For many people, their passion (or passions if you have more than one) is put aside because passions can’t pay the bills. Other times, parental figures strongly discourage passions due to a well-intended but misplaced fear that their child will become distracted and not secure a good job. The flames of your life passion can be put out by your own fear of failure, by self-doubt, or due to low self-esteem. Maybe it was the risky route you opted not to take. Everyone has their own story about why they didn’t turn their passion into a career they love. They are often left feeling unsatisfied or like something is missing from their every day life. They may settle for the 9 to 5, feeling forever doomed, and forget to dream ever again.
Work, family, and personal life are the usual culprits that cause your passion to get pushed to the side and sometimes, forgotten entirely. However, the consequences of not engaging in your passion can be serious and very evident. You see, your sense of self, your confidence, and your overall quality of life is highly dependent on participating in something you’re passionate about. It is a central part of self-care—and self-love—to dedicate time on a regular basis to indulging your passion. Many people who are caught up in a work rut make numerous excuses related to not having the time or resources to engage in their passion meanwhile, they often spend a good portion of their day watching TV or scrolling through their phones. It’s like the monotony of the work day puts many of us on autopilot—all creativity and desire for stimulation dissipates. However, people who nurture their side passion tend to enjoy work life more! It’s as if that time spent on an activity that fulfills you serves to refuel your spirit, allowing you to better cope with the stressors and demands of your day.
It takes discipline and commitment, but it is possible to pursue your side passion. Maybe for you it’s going to take a little less sleep every day and weekends spent focused on your goal rather than sleeping in or lying on the couch. Below are some tried and true methods to successfully nurturing your side passion.
- Identify the time suckers in your day. Do this for at least one week, even if you make no changes at first. If you need to track your screen time, do so! Many people spend precious hours scrolling through their phone mindlessly.
- Once you track how much time you spend on non-productive tasks, schedule time for your passion to replace those activities. Add a reminder on your phone or write it in your agenda and stick to it.
- If feasible, use idle time to work towards your passion, but make sure you always carry with you materials or anything you need related to your passion (e.g., laptop, pen and paper, reading material). Everyone has idle time, even the busiest of us. Think: sitting in the car, standing in line anywhere, waiting for an appointment, lunch breaks, waiting for a friend to show up, and pretty much any time you spend in between your tasks of the day.
- Use your weekends. Yes, you need time to rest, but if you have two days off per week, spend a few hours during one of those days to dedicate to your passion. Those few hours will add up at the end of the week, month, and year, leading to greater progress.
- Think slow and steady. Don’t always expect that you’ll magically have several free hours to placidly engage in your passion. Waiting for a big window of time can sometimes lead to a task being procrastinated indefinitely. Instead, work in small increments of time.
- Use 10 minutes before bed or 10 minutes after rising in the morning. Ten minutes isn’t much, but again, the idea is that your effort and persistence will add up. Wake up 10 minutes earlier or set aside this time before bed. Or you can do both and you have an additional 20 minutes.
Side passion pros live by these principles. Now, what you do with this information depends on how badly you want to improve your life satisfaction, wellbeing, quality of life, and emotional health. Many people ultimately turn their passion into a career, leaving behind the grind and pursuing what truly fulfills them. However, some decide that they prefer to keep their side passion on the side due to fear of transforming their coveted hobby into a stressful activity. Regardless of the path you take, whatever you do, never forget your passion. Chase after it with every ounce of courage and determination that you have
Arnold Gillo, MSW, LCSW is a Licensed Therapist, a Behavioral Health Consultant, and the Clinical Program Planner for State of Nevada ICF Program