Following Your Passion is the Key to Your Second Act

Following your passion in your work is what makes us happy. Business coach Steve Straus says “Moving toward something is healthier than moving away from it. But being pulled by something is healthier yet. Passion pulls. Discovering your passion is a nice approach (to what’s next after retirement from your first career).” (4) If you strike it rich by hitting on your passion, you strike gold!

If you work at a PASSION, the work itself is the factor that determines your satisfaction, regardless of money, prestige, or control.

Develop and Stretch      

“Some days you may deny it, but we all thrive on interesting challenges. Figure out what you can do to make sure you don’t allow yourself to go stale at work.

Some great ideas include:

  • Set performance standards for yourself – aim to beat your previous record.” Go to work and practice your passion every day.
  • “Teach others your skills – nothing is more challenging, or rewarding, than passing your skills and knowledge on to others.
  • Start or take on a project that uses skills you would like to use, or want to improve.
  • Commit to professional development – take courses, read books or trade magazines and attend seminars. However you do it, keep your skills fresh and current.” (2)

Listen & Communicate

An article by Karyl Innis says that as you plan your year’s priorities, share your list with a trusted advisor.

Let’s apply this advice to my passion of oil painting: Consider hiring a trusted instructor that you respect and have good personal chemistry with. I hired a former teacher. We meet once a month in my studio for a critique of my current art work, a discussion about studio practice and methods, then conclude our dialogue with a ranking of the most critical things to do in the next month and next quarter. Together, we identify the top item in each category that we both agree is seriously important. We keep the list small, short and concise. The accountability and respect for her ideas makes our check-ins a pleasure when I report my progress.

Know Thyself

What is really important to you? What do you find yourself preferring to do as work over all other options?

Contemplate and meditate on what you really want to do today and five years from now. “Journaling, where one reflects on one’s experiences by writing about them” can give you more insight. Daily journaling about your work is a good way to reflect and contemplate what to do the next day.

Innovate & Learn

What were you good at in your first career? How did you innovate and develop breakthroughs that brought you and your team to the next level of performance.

I was producing art work for about four years. Over time, the paintings improved. I wanted a non-linear difference. So after listening to my SMU professor for three semesters, I summarized all the key points he had made to his class in my head as I painted the last studio nude image and I combined it with some very contemporary imagery. Inspired to make a radically different composition, I painted with new energy and was careful not to over-paint/over work it. It was a nonlinear step function…forward. The image is an innovative combined composition of all the things I learned that semester. My reward came a month later when this professor asked to buy my painting during my final critique.

Following your passion is not like checking items off your bucket list, which is transactional, temporal and not lasting. Following your passion in your work, and seeing yourself doing it for the next five years, is like a being pulled by a force that allows you to deal with all the change and setbacks you will encounter along the way. Passion is staying power; it is tapping into personal strength.

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About The Author

Julie England

What began as a transition out of Corporate America turned into Julie’s aspiration of becoming a painter. She studied art in Dallas, TX and Santa Fe, NM, two major hubs of art and culture in the Southwest. Julie's sense of line, color and texture is enriched by the years spent traveling to Santa Fe, NM. During that decade, hundreds of hours were spent exploring works of other painters combined with many years of community service in local art museums. She developed a strong sense and direction for her own path as a painter. Julie lives in Dallas, TX with her husband. She is involved as a current or former board member with the Dallas Museum of Art, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Advisory Board and Dallas Arboretum in Dallas, TX and Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM. Visit her website.