Have you ever asked yourself why you are in your current profession or role? More importantly, do you consider you current role a stepping stone towards your desired career goal or is it just another J.O.B to while away time and support you financially? I don’t mean to sound like an overdone or opinionated career themed advertisement trying to woo young college graduates; but these are very relevant questions that every professional in the workforce needs to ask themselves every now and then.
Identifying ones career goal can be a daunting task for some of us, and by no means am I trying to pressure anyone to reach that ‘aha’ moment pre-maturely – it’s no race…trust me! However as a professional: seasoned or novice, I am sure you have realized one thing – what you definitely DON’T want to do, and in most cases you do need to do whatever it is before you realized you don’t want to do it in the long run – catch 22!
So back to the questions at hand – when you ask yourself why you are in a particular career path, I’m guessing a plethora of reasons come to mind – for the money, to make your parents happy, pop culture – everybody’s doing it, more money, for status and respect -keeping up appearances, competing with a friend…and the list goes on! Personally, all these hundred and one reasons mean nothing if somewhere on that list, the word “passion” is not highlighted, bolded and underlined! Being passionate about what one does is a sure path to professional security and personal success. In the light of passion, all professional hazards become insignificant and tolerable. A worker with passion as his/her tool of choice is sure to crack that code to lasting satisfaction.
Unfortunately, this lasting satisfaction eludes quite a hand full of us because we are in professions for the ‘wrong’ reasons. Nevertheless, the lucky ones realize this along the way and are smart enough to make a detour to “passionville” whiles the unlucky ones continue on through the crooked path of dissatisfaction and unfulfillment. The latter is either led astray by their stubborn nature or refusal of change or some genuine circumstances beyond their control. Needless to say, the end result is always the most telling – here lies a bitter individual who squandered his/her life away on an unfulfilling job! Harsh words but true!
My millions would have not been so elusive had I received one cedi each time I asked the question why someone was in a profession and they alluded to the fact that their parents had a lot to do with it! Or better yet, I would be even richer if the reason had a monetary tag! In a society where a child’s voice is seldom heard over the bellowing opinions of the adult, it is commonplace for a particular profession to be hammered into a child’s head. However, reiterating my first point above – some need to try something in order to find out that they don’t like it! And so hope is not completely lost for the children who are force fed their professions – nevertheless, the caveat here is that the hopefuls are only identified by their adamant and adventurous ways. Those who do not challenge status quo and reach out for change are limited by their fear of the uncertain. Of course there are those parents who know their wards well enough to causally suggest a profession and like BINGO…it’s a match!
However, the issue here is not how well our parents or guardians know or don’t know us, but more importantly how well we know ourselves. SCENARIO: You are in a dead end job: getting up every morning is depressing because of this job, you are definitely not getting the hang of it, your co-workers are a constant reminder of what you don’t want to become, yet you stay in this job for ten plus years! The first five year was plenty time to plan an escape route but your constant eye rolls at your colleagues and wishing your boss dead ( a bit extreme but you get the point) were not cues enough to have you beef up your resume and look for greener pastures. Comfort and complacency are killers of passion and professional satisfaction – and I hate to say it but these have found a home in our workforce. Now you wonder why our thinking is narrow!
No matter what line of business or field of expertise you claim to be aligned with, make sure you approach it with passion and all the added perks will definitely follow!
On the streets of Accra, traffic hawking is big business – I have my own reservation on that in regards to road safety but that is a different topic for another day – as simple as it may seem to some of us, these hawkers can be differentiated by their level of passion! I once came across one of these hawkers and the truth be told, the title ‘hawker’ was really an insult to him per my perception – he embodied the definition of an astute salesman and despite the fact that he did not have a shop in which to sell his goods, he considered the streets of Accra his business address. Now I am sure you are wondering what made this salesman stand out – ‘you ask a good question”! Our passionate salesman sold dressy men’s shoes like half the other hawkers currently on the streets; however what made him stand out was his appearance! The street hawker attire we are most accustomed to is the basic, unassuming t-shirt and trousers or shorts – heavily stained and ripped in some cases, however our passionate salesman flipped the script completely – he was well dressed in a trousers and waist coat (vest) combo, coupled with a crisp white buttoned up shirt and well-polished dressy men’s shoes and sunglasses to boot!!! Of course I had to steal a few long glances his way and rubber necking was inevitable since I was in moving traffic. But there stood a passionate salesman and despite the smothering Accra heat, he knew what he was about – in order to sell his merchandise, he had to look the part despite his circumstances. Now as I marveled at what I had just seen, I actually wished I had enough capital to open a decent store for this chap to help sell his products. I haven’t seen him recently so I am only hoping someone did not only share my thoughts but actually had the means to put him in a store. In my books that is passion!
Now if my example above seems a little far-fetched for you because you seem so removed from the local hustle and bustle, then consider the science student who has been pressured to do just that – the sciences in school – because his/her parents can justify paying all that school fees for medicine or law or economics but not for fashion, music or carpentry and of course the former makes for great bragging rights – “My son is a doctor, or my daughter is a lawyer etc. But deep down this aspiring doctor or lawyer or banker has a wonderful talent for dress making or acting – no foul called if they do continue on in the academics to be what Daddy or Mummy planned but sooner or later the innate talent, that passion will come a-knocking and a wise man once said:
“Success is inevitable when we heed opportunity’s knock”…
okay so I said that but I believe there is some wise saying to this end! My point here is that we need to know what we are truly passionate about and try and cultivate it! The above scenario is not some story I came up with but it is the true story of many content and successful people out there, who listened out for their passion and made that brave leap of faith.
For some of us we are still finding ourselves professionally and trust me, there is no shame in that, as long as we are taking the pains to really find and understand what makes us tick. Let’s not be swayed by economic gains especially as a sole long-term goal because this breeds contempt and misplaced effort. However let’s take stride towards developing our passion and see if economic gains, self-satisfaction and accomplishment and their likes does not become part and parcel of our career story!