You Might Be In a Career Rut If...

13 Questions To Find Your Passion

Nov 27, 2018

By J. Gerald Suarez

SMITH BRAIN TRUST  Work is not the opposite of play. It’s boredom. Your work should be something you are passionate about, that gets you out of bed every morning filled with excitement. If you love what you do, you won’t ever ask yourself the question of whether you’re on the right track. But if your job doesn’t excite you, you need to figure out what will.

It’s never too late to get out of a career rut and on the path to a job you love. You might not even have to start over. To make your work feel like play, you have to take the reins to make changes.

Change is four-step process that relies first on contemplation, then affirming a desire to make a change, followed by designing a plan to take action, lastly actually going through with that plan. This is a cycle that we must do periodically to keep ourselves on the right path.

Step one is the most important. Slow down and give yourself time to ask the right questions to figure out if you’re on the right career track and whether you are living your passion. True passions are enduring, driven by something internal.

Passions can evolve and deepen, and they can be renewed. They provide continuity to whatever propels us forward. Ask yourself these questions and answer them with sincerity:

1. What inspires you? Why?

2. Who inspires you the most?

3. What kind of people do you like to be surrounded by? Why?

4. What makes you feel productive?

5. What makes you feel that time is flying by?

6. When was the last time you experienced happiness? What were you doing?

7. What makes you feel proud of yourself?

8. What makes you feel proud of your team or your company?

9. What would you do if not limited by the need for money?

10. What commitment or initiative are you postponing?

11. What intrigues you?

12. What would you like to know more about?

13. What is the one thing you would like to accomplish before you die?

Answer these questions in writing and revisit them in a few days. Make adjustments if necessary. Remember that you are in the process of self-discovery, and it may take a few iterations before you feel connected with your passion.


J. Gerald Suarez is professor of practice in systems thinking and design and a fellow of the Center for Leadership Innovation and Change at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. He is also an executive coach and author of “Leader Of One: Shaping Your Future through Imagination and Design.”



About the Expert(s)


Dr. J. Gerald Suarez is a premier educator, speaker and consultant in the fields of Organizational Design, Systems Thinking and Total Quality Management. Suarez joined Smith in 2005 as Executive Director of the multidisciplinary Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams (QUEST) Honors Fellows program. He was a Ralph J. Tyser Teaching Fellow and an Executive Education Senior Fellow. From 2008 to 2010 he served as Associate Dean of External Strategy, leading the offices of marketing communications, recruitment and career services.

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