When doing what you love starts to feel like work, or better yet becomes your job!

Isn’t that what we all want? As the famous quote from Mark Twain:

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I thought of this topic as I was working with athletes who have reached the professional league. All the years of hard work and fun, as they played for the enjoyment, the thrill, and the ambitions to become better skilled, and move up the ranks. Professionally it is now “the job” which can sometimes take that internal excitement out of the play.

Here are ways to hold onto JOY when what we love to do, we start to dread, feel pressure, or worse yet, feels like “work” and we no longer enjoy what we do.
Even when pursuing your passion, there may still be moments when it feels challenging or demanding. No matter how enjoyable or how much what you do is a choice, it comes with its own set of responsibilities, as well as external (e.g., environmental, social) and internal (e.g., emotional, mental, physical) factors. Not every aspect of what you do, improving and maintaining performance is fun or enjoyable, at all times (or ever). Reminding yourself of what you are choosing to do, and WHY, can help you get through the less enjoyable aspects, as well as, help you continue when you are sore, tired, challenged, or facing obstacles and setbacks.

To hold onto joy and prevent your passion from turning into a burden, consider the following:

  1. Savor the moments.
    Savor the moments that feel good, increase your positive energy, create a smile on your face, and/or warmth in your heart.
  2. Focus your attention on the moment you are in.
    Every moment has enough in it to capture 100% of your attention. Notice all that each moment has to offer and choose to nurture the positive experiences, the growth, the learning.
  3. Embrace challenges as growth opportunities.
    Challenges and setbacks are natural parts of any job, even when it aligns with your passion. Rather than letting them dampen your enthusiasm, view them as opportunities for growth and learning. Embracing challenges with a growth mindset can help you maintain your joy by focusing on the progress and improvement they can bring.
  4. Reflect on past memories.
    Take the time to remind yourself of early memories and experiences when you first fell in love with the activity (sport, occupation, passion).
  5. Nurture your love for the activity.
    Continuously cultivate your passion by staying connected to the reasons why you love it. Remind yourself of the intrinsic value and fulfillment it brings to your life. Engage in activities, such as attending related events, reading about the subject, connecting with like-minded individuals, and that keep your enthusiasm alive.
  6. Find support and share your experiences.
    Engage in conversations, participate in groups, get involved in helping others related to your passion. One way may be to give back to the field in mentoring or philanthropy.
  7. Surround yourself with positive influences.
    Surround yourself with people who support and uplift you. Spend time with friends, family, colleagues or teammates who share your values or inspire you to pursue your passions. Engaging with positive influences can help you stay connected to your personal “why.”
  8. Journaling and self-reflection.
    Set aside regular time and write/draw/sing [express yourself] about your thoughts, emotions, and experiences related to your work and personal life. This practice can help you gain insights, identify patterns, and reconnect with your true motivations and passions.
  9. Take a break and recharge.
    Create space on your time away/off. Creating space for rest and relaxation can help you regain perspective and reconnect with your sense of purpose.
  10. Remind yourself that you are doing what you have chosen to do.
    The power is within you. It is a decision you have made. Some elements are a “means to an end” or part of the process. Embracing it for that, becomes less of a fight, less of dread, and becomes easier to execute.

Remember, even when you love what you do, there will be moments when it feels like work. However, by consciously coming back to you, what your passions are, what your values are; it can become easier to continuously pursue your goals. Cultivating your passion, setting boundaries, embracing challenges, seeking support, and allowing room for growth; you can navigate those moments and continue to find joy in your chosen path.

Today prepares you for tomorrow. Anything of value requires ongoing, consistent effort. 

– Eva Serber, PhD, LLC