What to Do When Passion Evaporates

“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. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

If a phrase became true through repetition, our world would be ablaze with those living with passion. “Live your passion” may very well be the buzzword for this decade.  We have an expectation that when we find our passion and purpose, we’ll find happiness.

We want to feel it. We want to do work that expresses it. We yearn to live passionately and love passionately.

Somehow, we’ve come to imagine that if we  spend our days doing something we love, we’ll be immune to the doldrums. We think there are the “lucky ones”, who in living with passion, escape monotony, boredom and intimate acquaintance with lethargy, frustration, and feelings of insignificance.

Think again.

Whether you’re a CEO or an administrative assistant, a school principal or a teacher, a child psychologist or a full- time mom, there will be days that are dull and utterly unexciting. Same tasks, same people, same expectations….yawn.

There are days when your passion seems to have disappeared along with your vision, motivation and energy.

There’s a side to passion you don’t hear much about. Misery. Suffering.  The dark side of passion includes despair and disillusionment. Indeed, one definition of passion is, “the sufferings of a martyr”. Now, who would sign up for that? (Jesus did – that’s why this week is referred to as “Passion Week”, but that’s a whole different story.)

Artists throughout the ages have portrayed the malaise that accompanies the creative process at some point. From Poe to Picasso to Pat Conroy, we have visible evidence that those in touch with their deepest gifts don’t get to float around in butterfly suits- suspended in a world of flowers and glitter. Those we see in the spotlight are typically well acquainted with darkness and shadows. You just don’t readily see them in the glare of bright lights.

Indeed, there are precious few business pundits who discuss the days (or weeks) they feel apathetic and lethargic. It doesn’t contribute to an aura of success, does it?

But let’s get real. A symphony would sound oddly off-kilter if only the little happy high notes were played. The deep, sonorous tones offer a valuable counter-point to music from the upper range.

I’ve noticed that after a high point of achievement, I often find myself in the valley of the doldrums. It happened recently and seems to be so common that I don’t even know why it catches me by surprise. It shouldn’t be so unexpected. After the exhilaration of the release of my book, I couldn’t write a word. My creativity seemed to have evaporated.

I sure I’m not alone in this experience.  For authors, it’s referred to as writer’s block. But I happen to know it’s a condition that afflicts everyone at some point.

Five Steps to Rekindle Your Passion: What to Do When Passion Evaporates

1) Do something fun, though it may seem counter-intuitive. We think working harder is the answer. Workaholics have been referred to as “the respectable addicts”.

We need to take heed of Einstein’s genius when he said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun”.

2) Celebrate small successes by listing five people you brought a smile to in the past week. When we get the blues, our perspective tends to blind us to the positive difference we are making. Change the direction of that negativity with this simple exercise. If you can’t think of five people you brought a smile to in the past week, start now.

3) Embrace routine. Every day doesn’t have to be extraordinary. After taking time to play, re-establish structure in your days by creating a schedule. Even if the activities are not great accomplishments, you will start to get your rhythm back as you get moving.

4) Know you are not alone. In a funk, we tend to compare ourselves with the best of others and isolate oneself with morose thoughts and negativity. Have a conversation with someone you trust about your doubts and lack of motivation. Just putting it in the light and seeing it for what it is can go a long way toward flipping the switch of your perspective.

5) Rest assured – the sun will come out again. Recognize your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. You’re not anywhere near perfect, but you are not a fraud.  You are brilliant. Just because the sun is behind a cloud doesn’t mean it won’t shine again.


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