As many of you know, I talk a lot about professional passion. I believe it IS possible to love your job and really feel a fire in your belly when you think about the contribution you’re making at work everyday.
I’m always careful to note though that work passion is very different from passion passion…you know, the kind that gets you all hot and bothered…? Professional passion is NOT the same as romantic passion.
However, as odd as it sounds, the two actually do have a lot in common. Some things about passion are the same whether at the office or in the bedroom. Crazy? Nope.
To see what I mean, read on.
Work at It
Relationships are easy and fun in the beginning. The passion often comes quite naturally…for a while. But, as any of you who are married or in long-term relationships know, at some point, it becomes harder to keep that passion alive. You have to actually put some effort in. If you aren’t willing to exert some energy, the passion will eventually fizzle out.
The same is true for your relationship with work. At first, it’s exciting. The passion is there and you can’t imagine it ever going away. But then, the day-to-day routine sets in, and you slowly become complacent.
This kind of fizzle-out isn’t necessarily a given. It doesn’t have to happen. But passion doesn’t stick around on its own. You have to buy some sexy lingerie* every now and again. In work terms, you have to take some risks and try new things. Put yourself out there. Get out of your comfort zone and see what happens.
Don’t Rely on Your Partner to Make You Happy
Your romantic partner isn’t responsible for your happiness. YOU, and you alone, are the only one who controls how you feel about yourself and your life. Sure, it’s nice to hear that you’re pretty and loved, but your partner can’t give you confidence you don’t have. Others can influence you, but ultimately, your feelings are totally within your control.
The same is true about work. Having a great job that pays well and has endless opportunity is certainly helpful. But your employer doesn’t determine whether or not you’re happy doing what you do. You choose how you respond to the situations in your life. If you choose to stay at your job, choose to see the good in it and don’t dwell on the bad. If you choose to stay with your romantic partner, do the same.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to improve the things you don’t like (whether at home or in the office) and here’s what I mean by that…
Ask for What You Want
Your partner can’t read your mind and neither can your employer. If there’s something that isn’t working for you and it’s reasonable enough to change, ask for it. But be specific and 100% straightforward. If you try to be coy and beat around the bush, it’s easy for your signals to get crossed, and miscommunication is a sure-fire way to kill the passion.
If you want your partner to open the car door for you, tell him. If it really matters to you, I’m sure he’d rather know so he can do something about it. It’s easy enough! He might still forget to do it, of course, and at that point you can re-evaluate how much it really matters.
Likewise, if your employer can resolve some underlying irritation you have, in many cases (though admittedly not all), it’s worthwhile doing so. They’ve already invested in you so simple things—like a new office chair or a slight shift in schedule—might make sense if it keeps you happy and working hard. Again, it won’t always work, but at least you’ve made an honest effort. And, as I said before, you can re-evaluate at that point.
Stay Mentally Engaged
Presence isn’t just about physically being there—at work or at home. It’s about being truly mentally engaged. It’s about caring, inquiring, listening and connecting.
We’ve all seen those couples at restaurants who barely make eye contact and spend most of their time looking at their cell phones or gazing longingly at the couple on their first date next to them. They’re there, but not really. Part of them is somewhere else.
This same thing happens all the time in workplaces around the world. People are there, but not really.
When you’re at work, you have to be there 100%. Otherwise, it shows and you feel it. Time drags by. You leave the office wondering what the heck you just accomplished…if anything. You feel like a zombie walking through the week holding out hope that the weekend will bring some kind of excitement.
All you have to do is engage your brain and work will become exciting again. Believe me on this. Everyone enjoys feeling mentally stimulated, but again, you sometimes have to work at it. Find the challenge again. Seek out new information. Learn new skills.
Know When to Leave
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, the passion just can’t be reignited. There’s no sense sticking around forever trying to fix something that’s irreparably broken. Get out while you can, but leave with dignity and grace. Remember that the time you shared together was, at least for a while, a good thing. It probably wasn’t perfect, but then, you probably weren’t either.
Bring Yourself to It
This last one might sound odd but here’s what I mean: YOU are in this relationship. Whether with work or with a romantic partner, YOU are half the equation. That means you have to share who you really are and what you’re really capable of. You can’t hide or pretend to be something you’re not. Authenticity is the most attractive quality in people, professionally and personally. Be real and you’ll have more to offer your employer and your partner.
That doesn’t mean you should toss all social decorum out the window though! If your “real” self wants to throw a temper tantrum, rein it in and consider whether that’s the right move for the relationship. Remember that it’s also about respect. Tact and diplomacy go a long way. Adapt to the needs of others from time to time and they’ll do the same for you.
I know you questioned my take on this topic when you first started reading this article…so what do you think? Do you see the correlation now between professional passion and personal passion? Or have I just been reading too many romance novels?
*Note: Sexy lingerie should not to be worn at work. Unless you have some kind of…”nontraditional”…workplace. In which case, good for you.
Photo Credit: John Curley (Flickr)