paNASH blog

How to Know When Passion Is Knocking On Your Door

I recently responded to a Quora question asking,

“How do you know if you’ve discovered your passion?”

Sometimes you find your passion, and sometimes your passion finds you. But in either case, you’ll be able to hear it knocking by listening for these eight clues:

1. If you’re so engaged in it you lose track of time.

How many times have you been working on something and looked up and saw two hours had passed before you realized it?

What were you doing in those two hours?

2. If you’re energized by it, as opposed to being emotionally and/or physically drained by it.

Now, of course there will be times when you’re tired from working in your passion. But usually it’s a good kind of tired.

Be sure to get your rest though. While hustle is good, you need to make time to re-energize so you don’t burn out.

3. If you’re at peace with it instead of stressed out by it.

This doesn’t mean you won’t ever get stressed while working in your passion. But if there’s far more peace than stress, you’ve probably found your passion.

4. If you’re willing to do it for free.

Don’t misunderstand me. If your passion is something you’re hoping to make a career out of, you definitely need to get paid what you’re worth.

While in the beginning you may need to do some free work to build up your portfolio, you eventually need to start charging for your expertise when there becomes a demand for it.

5. If you forget to eat.

This one is an easy clue for me personally. If I find myself skipping or delaying a meal for something, I know I must really be really passionate about it!

But just like you need enough sleep to be healthy, you also need to maintain a balanced diet to keep your passion productive.

6. If you wake up in the morning looking forward to it.

Since I started working for myself in pursuit of my own passion, I no longer dread Monday mornings.

In fact, I actually look forward to them!

7. When it doesn’t feel like work.

I’m very passionate about my work, but it often doesn’t feel like work. When that happens, sometimes it’s hard for me to take a break from my work.

But again, balance and moderation in everything is what keeps me productive and helps me avoid burn out.

Being a workaholic is not healthy, nor is it necessary. We all need to stop falling for the glorification of workaholism and busyness.

8. OR, when at times it does feel like work.

Even if it does feel like work but you’re willing to persevere and push through the tough times instead of just giving up or quitting when it gets hard, you’ve probably found your passion.

There have been numerous times of challenge in pursuing my own passions, but I never had a desire to give up no matter what the challenge was.

This is the true definition of passion.

Designing Your Life

In addition to (and in overlap of) the above, the authors of Designing Your Life (Bill Burnett and Dave Evans) pose the question,

“What things in your daily routine make you feel all (or most) of the following?”
  • Complete involvement in an activity.
  • Euphoria/joy.
  • A clear idea of exactly what to do and how to do it.
  • Calmness and peace.
  • Time is gone before you know it.

Burnett and Evans refer to this as “flow,” or in other words, total engagement. Flow feels more like play than work, and it includes not being concerned about the outcomes of what you’re engaged in.

Fear of Failure

I consider a lack of concern about the outcomes to be a willingness to fail and to learn from that failure.

But there are some people who allow their fear of failure to put a damper on their passions and they never end up pursuing those passions.

Let’s cut to the chase. The fear of failure will always be there. You just have to decide if your fear of never knowing what would’ve happened is greater than your fear of failure.

I hope it is, because if you let fear of failure win, you’re not only missing out, but so are all the people who could benefit from your passion.

Need help recognizing and pursuing your own passions? Subscribe to my newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan to help get you started!

Sunday Inspiration: What Are Your Strengths?

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.”   Ro 12:6 TLB

Paul writes: “Just as our bodies have many parts and each…has a special function…We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other…God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well” (vv. 4-6 NLT).

Dr. John Maxwell recommends that you work where you’re strongest 80 percent of the time, where you’re learning 15 percent of the time, and where you’re weakest 5 percent of the time.

So, what are your strengths?

To find the answer to that question, you must:

(1) Be secure. If you allow your insecurities to get the better of you, you’ll become inflexible and resistant to change. And if you don’t change you won’t grow.

(2) Get to know yourself. Spend time exploring your gifts, ask for feedback and receive it, and be honest about your blind spots.

(3) Trust your leader. If you can’t trust the person you’re following, you should look for someone you can trust, or get on another team.

(4) See the big picture. Your place on any team only makes sense in the context of the big picture. If your sole reason for finding your niche is personal gain, your wrong motives will rob you of the very joy, fulfillment, and success you desire.

(5) Rely on your experience. The only way to know you’ve discovered your niche is to try things, take risks, learn from your failures and successes, and discover what God has gifted you to do.


What You Need to Know to Ensure A Successful Career

As both a career coach and a creative thinker, I’m always brainstorming ways to help my clients be successful in their careers with unique and out-of-the-box strategies.

It’s important to be innovative and unconventional when competition for opportunities is fierce.

It’s the only way to get the attention from the right audience (those who have the opportunities to offer) and to stand out from the competition in a good way.

That’s why I’ve shared posts like:

However, there is some career advice that stands the test of time, but only when it’s put into practice.

The problem is, some people still don’t even know about this timeless advice.

And even if they do, they fail to implement it and then wonder why they’re not having the success they’d like to have in their careers.

Don’t be one of these people!

Career Advice That Never Goes Out of Style

To have a successful career, you have to always work at your career, even when you think your job is secure. (Understand that it rarely is!)

So what is the best course of action and best use of your time? Following these career success strategies that never goes out of style!

1. Keep your resume updated every 6 months, even when you’re not looking for another job.

It’s a lot easier to remember what you’ve done in the past six months than in the past six years.

By then it will be nearly impossible to remember how you impacted the company’s bottom line with each project you worked on.

So, every six months, take an inventory of your most recent on-the-job accomplishments.

Ask yourself how each of your duties, ideas, or efforts made an impact on the bottom line.

  • Did they increase profit or revenue? By how much?
  • Did they decrease spending? By what percentage?
  • Did they save man hours? How does that translate to dollars saved?
  • Did they increase customer satisfaction or decrease customer complaints? By what percentage?
  • Did they make processes more efficient? How much time did this save?
  • Did they boost staff morale? How much did productivity increase with this boost?

Add your accomplishments to your resume each time you update it.

If you do this, you’ll be prepared for three possible scenarios:

  1. When you’re up for a promotion.
  2. When you’re ready to ask for a pay raise.
  3. Or when you need to look for a new job.

There have been times when I’ve been asked for a copy of my resume when I wasn’t even looking for a job, like the times I’ve been hired for a speaking engagement.

When that happens, I’m always glad I’ve got something up-to-date to send them.

(For more details on updating your resume, see my post Why You Should Update Your Resume Every 6 Months.)

2. Find a mentor. 

You should always pinpoint someone in your industry or company you aspire to be like and get to know and learn from that person.

Also, a mentor is something you can negotiate for when you’re offered a job and are negotiating salary and perks.

Asking for a mentor makes you look good because it shows your initiative to learn. It’s a perk that doesn’t cost the company any additional money, and you’ll gain priceless lessons and advice.

3. Serve on committees that match your interests. 

Every company or organization has various committees that need people from different departments to serve on.

Find one that matches your interests and dedicate a reasonable amount of time to it (1 to 4 hours per month).

Doing this will get you out of your daily routine and your everyday surroundings, introduce you to new people in other departments, help you develop your soft skills, and build your resume.

For instance, I have an interest in both sports and international travel.

When I worked in the career center at a university back in North Carolina, I volunteered to serve on a committee that initiated the athletic department’s implementation of the NCAA’s life skills program for college athletes.

I also represented the University of North Carolina’s Exchange Program and served on the Australia Exchange Student sub-committee.

And when I worked in the career center at Vanderbilt University, I partnered with both the Study Abroad Office and the Athletics Department to provide presentations to their students on how to market their unique collegiate experiences to potential employers.

These experiences enriched my career because I got to work with others in areas that fascinated me and I got to develop skills in public speaking and program development.

4. Take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by your employer.

This can include professional association memberships, conferences, in-house professional development programs, etc.

These opportunities also help you build your knowledge, skills, resume, and network.

In fact, there’s a company here in the Nashville that’s hired me to present my program on personal branding to several of their employees.

It says a lot about a company, its culture, and its dedication to the holistic development of their staff to offer such programs to their employees on the company’s dime.

So if your company offers it, take advantage of it of the free self-improvement!

5. Always build your network and maintain professional relationships, even when you’re not looking for a job. 

You’ll benefit from professional relationships whether you stay within the same field throughout your career or if you change industries or start your own business.

And because relationship building takes time, the sooner you start building and maintaining your professional relationships, the more your connections will be willing to assist you when you find yourself in need of their help.

But you have to be realistic about networking. While I’ve had some professional relationships that resulted in immediate career benefits, most have taken years of investment and being of assistance on my part before I fully experienced the benefits.

6. Prepare for a layoff, even if you don’t think one will happen

This goes hand-in-hand with #1 and #5.

You don’t want to find yourself suddenly without a job and having to scramble to write a resume because it’s been 15 years since you’ve last had to write one.

And you don’t want to have any awkwardness when reaching out to your contacts because it’s been WAY too long since you last spoke with them.

Instead, you want to always be prepared with the tools needed to find your next opportunity when the need arises.

Other suggestions to prepare for a layoff:

  • Always have a few months worth of expenses saved up.
  • Develop your transferable skills and your soft skills (i.e. communication skills, presentation/public speaking skills, interpersonal skills, etc.).
  • Develop the skills of an entrepreneur in case you have to (or desire to) work for yourself for a while.

Yes, it’s easier to be short-sighted and just do your job, focusing on the bare minimum and most immediate items on your to-do list.

But investing time and energy into the above strategies will lead to long-term success in your career and will pay off in spades down the road!

If you need help to ensure success in your career, sign up for a complimentary initial consultation by completing the paNASH intake form.

Feeling Trapped in Your Career? Here’s How to Cope (Re-Post)

A few weeks ago I took a mini-vacation down to my favorite area of Florida, Seagrove Beach on beautiful 30A. 

I was anxious to get my paddle board out on the beautiful emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but the beach’s warning flags told me I should re-think my plans. 

There was a purple flag indicating dangerous marine life, and a red flag indicating high hazards and strong currents.

So, I improvised and took my board out on Eastern Lake, a rare coastal dune lake that runs under Scenic Highway 30A and eventually feeds into the ocean after a heavy rain or other inflow. 

Because it is a coastal dune lake, Eastern Lake is rather small. And since there hadn’t been a previous heavy rainfall to create an opening to the ocean, the sandy beach served as a barrier between the lake and the ocean.

feeling trapped

Photo source:

Feeling Trapped

feeling trapped

Photo by Lori Bumgarner

I paddled from the beach end (the south end) of the lake where the salt water mixes with the fresh, to the marshy north end where I’m sure some alligators make their home. 

It was only about a mile and a half from the beach barrier to the marsh end of the lake. 

Needless to say, for someone who is used to paddling on rivers that run for hundreds of miles, I felt a bit trapped.

And unlike the ocean, I didn’t have a wide open space to explore, so all I could do was just keep paddling in one big circle around the perimeter of the lake. 

Despite all the beauty surrounding me and the change of scenery from my regular paddle route, the feeling of going around in circles made me frustrated.

The experience of feeling trapped is one I’ve felt more than once in my career. 

Whether it was when I was trapped in a toxic office environment, or when I was restless because I wasn’t working in my purpose.

It’s not a fun place to be, at all (I’m sure you can probably relate).

When faced with these situations, I’ve used various coping mechanisms that have led to changes in my situation for the better.

My paddle around the lake that day reminded me of all the possible ways to cope when faced with the feeling of being trapped in your career. 

7 Possible Ways to Cope — Here Are Your Options:

1. Sometimes we don’t always get what we want when we want it, so be patient. 

This is probably the most difficult option since most people aren’t naturally patient, myself included. 

But, sometimes this is what it takes when certain factors aren’t within your control. All you can do are the things within your control. 

For instance, when doing a job search you can build your network, learn how to market your skills and strengths, conduct informational interviews, apply for jobs, and prepare for interviews. 

After that, it’s out of your hands and you have to be patient while the seeds you’ve sown grow into the right opportunity.

2. Make the best of your current situation. 

Maybe you can’t change your situation right now, but you can change some things about it to make the best of it until another opportunity comes your way. 

Check out my post 8 Ways to Make Your Current Job More Bearable.

3. Just enjoy and be content with and grateful for the beauty of your current place or situation because things will soon change for the better. 

Often my clients are in a period of transition which feels uncomfortable for them. 

I too have been in that same situation. 

Instead of letting it continue to frustrate me, I chose to make the most of that time by learning some new things and doing some really fun, awesome things as well. 

I learned to relish that time because I knew it was a rare opportunity to do so. 

That’s why I encourage my clients to relish periods of transition despite the uncertainty they’re facing. 

The ones who do, are so glad they did, and the ones who don’t, often regret it.

4. Wait to make your move until conditions are more favorable. 

You might have more control than you think, but you have to make sure you’re taking action in both a timely and responsible way. 

When I first started my business, I didn’t immediately leave my full-time job with benefits. Instead, I started taking small steps toward my goal before taking a leap of faith. 

To learn how to make a career risk doable, read my post Don’t Quit Your Daydream (Or Your Day Job).

5. Pay attention to the warning flags. 

Just like I had to pay attention to the beach’s warning flags, you also have to look at the warning flags in your career. 

For example, are you hearing rumors of potential layoffs at your company? 

Is your job at risk of being replaced by the latest technology? 

To know how to best prepare for such a situation, check out my post Want More Job Security? Do This One Simple Thing and also click on the related posts for even more tips.

6. You’ll keep going in circles if you don’t step out of your comfort zone

Once you’ve done some or all of the above, there eventually comes a time when you have to step out of your comfort zone and take a leap of faith. 

How do you do that? Click here to find out.

7. Don’t wait for an opportunity to come open. Make your own opportunity. 

Sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns and make things happen for your career. 

This could mean combining some of your skills and passions to start your own business. 

Or it could mean proposing a new or different role for you at your current company that better incorporates your strengths and interests, therefore improving the company’s bottom line. A real win-win!

Which Option Is Best For You?

The trick is knowing which option to choose at which time. 

In one of my own career trappings, I waited patiently for the conditions to be right to make my exit and spent that time wisely planning my course of action.

In another situation, I took a leap of faith.

Both coping mechanisms worked for me in those particular situations. But they probably would’ve failed had I taken a leap of faith when it was too early, or had I waited around when I should’ve taken action. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to know which option to choose. And even then it can be difficult to know the best timing for your chosen option. A good career coach can help you determine both.

What’s causing you to feel trapped in your career right now? 

Which option above is speaking to you? 

I invite you to share in the comment box below.

I also invite you to start setting some goals that support the option (or options) that works best for you at this time. 

Learn how to do so by subscribing to my newsletter and receiving a complimentary download of the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.

Sunday Inspiration: How to Be Self-Disciplined

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“Learn to sense what is vital…and of real value.”  Php 1:10 AMPC

To achieve greater self-discipline, you should:

(1) Start your day by doing the hard things first. And when you get sidetracked, make yourself go back and complete them. For example, make your bed, pick up your clothes, and wash the dishes; don’t make extra work for others. And don’t start several projects at once; the feeling of “getting something done” will help you grow in self-respect and self-discipline.

(2) Make a commitment to be punctual. Tardiness is a hard habit to break. To conquer it you must be willing to call it what it often is—inconsiderate, selfish behavior.

(3) Plan ahead. Everything takes longer than you think, so don’t wait until the last minute and then rush around like a chicken with its head cut off. “Living under the gun” can give you ulcers, whereas allowing extra time is good for your health and peace of mind.

(4) Accept correction from those who care about you, without sulking or retaliating. Until you’re willing to take correction, you’ll never be qualified to give it. The Bible says, “Wisdom is found in those who take advice” (Pr 13:10 NIV), so if you’re wise you’ll welcome feedback and seek counsel.

Gandhi once said, “There’s always a limit to self-indulgence, but none to self-restraint.” Ask God to help you control your unruly thoughts, feelings, desires, and behaviors.

Identify the unmanageable areas in your life, stop making excuses, face the truth even if it hurts, refuse to feel sorry for yourself, and set a few attainable goals. In other words: “Learn to sense what is vital…and of real value.”