What are you passionate about? This was the central theme of EADA Careers advisor Annemie Peeters’ presentation, The art of combining passion and work. Peeters presented at JOBarcelona, the forth International Employment Congress for undergraduates and junior graduates in Barcelona. She opened by quoting Steve Jobs: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
The importance of passion was central to the presentation. In Peeters’ opinion, “Passion is the sum of curiosity –what we are interested in– and engagement–implication and dedication.” The first step in identifying your passion is to analyse what you are good at and what your interests are. Identifying these things means developing an awareness of yourself. “This requires observation –really focusing in on your strengths and interests–, reflection –defined as introspection– and inquiry –talking to and asking others,” says Peeters.
3 ways to identify your strengths and passions
This is not an easy exercise, and it usually takes quite a lot of time. Inspired by Christie Mims, Peeters listed five useful tips to starting the process:
- Take a deep breath. You are about to discover new things about yourself.
- Change your routine. For examples, go to sleep earlier, rearrange the furniture, change the time you do certain activities.
- Use the power of your browser history. This can give you insight into your interests.
- Ask for help. Talk to other people about what they think interests you most.
- Write things down. Keep writing things down –no matter how random– until you get a good list of all of this reasons why these new opportunities might be good for you. This is not only great motivation, but it will also get your creative juices flowing.
Peeters recommends looking for jobs related to both your strengths and your passions. Ask yourself:
- What are you good at? (your talents, your values)
- What do you enjoy doing? What kind of jobs do you like? (type of companies, sectors, startups)
- What kind of environment do you prefer? (international or national, favourite countries).
“This exercise might not lead you directly to a career that you love and are qualified for,” she says, “but that is not the purpose. The exercise aims to help you figure out what you actually care about, or, in other words, what you are passionate about. Once you know that, it is much easier to take the next step: finding a job that aligns with what drives you.”
A third technique Peeters recommends in this process of self-discovery is doing a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. She reminds us that it is essential to have a realistic view of the labour market during the process, and emphasises that it is never too late to start over.