Key Roadblocks to Uncovering One’s Career Passion

May 9th, 2011 2 Comments

Many people in the workforce are talented, intelligent, and resourceful, yet, research shows that as many as 85% of the work force is unhappy with their job or career.  Many continue to stay in that state for years during their adult working life despite their years of unhappiness.  Why is that?


A certain paradigm prevails that prevents people from getting past their obstacles and on the road to their career passion(s). What is that paradigm?  It is a mindset or world view that believes that when a problem seems unsolvable, they should let it stop them.  Some even call it the wisdom of “acceptance”.  Why struggle when there is no solution?  Yet, it is a mindset or world view that is not set in stone, but merely appears that way.


Common reasons that people give for not finding their career passion are no time, no energy, or no money.  Other reasons are I’m too old, I’m not smart enough, I shouldn’t have to get another degree…Who would hire someone with no experience especially in this economy?…Minorities or women don’t have a chance in that occupation.

Other reasons they keep to themselves and admit only in the privacy of their own mind.  I’m not good enough….It’s safer to stay with what I already know than risk losing what little I have…The unknown frightens me because I won’t know what to do…I’ll have to start over from scratch and will probably look like a fool doing it…What if I fail?…It’s not possible to have what I really want, look at all the disappointments I’ve already had in my life…What if my spouse or family disapproves?  Would I lose my friends if I started a new life with a new career?


They have solid evidence to back up these reasons, all of which are based on past experience.  To most, this means “It’s the truth.”  If they only realized that their beliefs and their perceptions which they think are unquestionably true, might actually be just that—past experience based on past ways of thinking, valuing, and doing things, which have led unfortunately to their unsatisfying results.  If they were able to suspend their beliefs and habitual ways of thinking and doing things, they may find the solutions they had not bothered to look for before.  This might lead to the possibility of their having a satisfying and fulfilling work life, which would affect every other part of their life.  Isn’t that possibility of a richer life worth considering?


The story of the baby elephant illustrates this situation well. When the elephant is just a baby and is being domesticated, it is chained by its foot to a metal post, with just enough length in the chain to allow it to move around a short distance.  This prevents the baby elephant from wandering away and causing all kinds of mischief.  As it grows older, it experiences this restraint day after day through the years and becomes accustomed to it.  He knows he will be fed and cared for and will be with the other elephants that have learned to be chained and restrained and accepting of this situation, just like him.  Even when he is a big powerful elephant, he doesn’t try to break the chain, which he could easily do.  The past has taught him that there is no point in struggling against what is not possible.  After all, hadn’t he tried many, many times to break the chain and found he could not?  Habit has blinded him to the fact that he is a big powerful elephant now, hundreds of times more powerful than when he was a baby, a big powerful elephant who can easily break the chain that holds him back. But he doesn’t try.  Habit has become fact, which has become truth, at least in perception.


Most of us live day to day in our comfort zone, no matter how frustrating or unfulfilling it is.  Everyone else seems to be doing it.  Isn’t it normal that I would also?  Because of this mind set, most of us don’t know what we are truly capable of.  An example is the story of the grandmother who lifted an automobile high enough from the ground so that her grandson, whose leg was pinned by the car, could get free.  Her Herculean strength appeared when she had a strong enough reason to use it–her grandson whom she loved dearly who was being crushed by a 2000 lb automobile.  What strengths could we muster if we were given a good enough reason?  Or if we focused on reasons we had allowed ourselves to forget?


What would you do for someone you loved dearly?  Who are the people you love dearly for which you would risk you life, or exhibit Herculean strength so that they could have a fulfilling and meaningful life?  Because a person is lost in their comfort zone, they are often not aware of the injury they are causing to themselves and their loved ones.  Choosing to live an unsatisfying and frustrating life, is not something most would want to admit to.  Yet, choosing not to do anything about it is in fact choosing that very life one finds frustrating.  Furthermore, one’s children are very aware that you are not satisfied with your life and that you dislike or distain your job.  They know when you’re living a life where your dreams are unfulfilled.  Though you think it just affects you, sadly, it also affects their lives and their ideas of what’s possible for them.  Children whose parents had dreams that were left unfulfilled will often try to live out their parent’s dream for them, whether they are well suited or not to carry out those dreams.  Or they will emulate a life where they believe that dreams cannot be fulfilled.  This can lead to a second generation of long-suffering lives of frustration and low self-esteem.  This is part of the hidden cost of not taking the time to value yourself enough to explore and find your career passion.


Even if you decide to explore your career passion, our high-tech society’s desire for the quick fix and the quick solution can be the death knell for your career passion.  The expectation of a quick fix and quick development is more suited to the model of man as machine and goes against the nature of who we are as organisms, with emotions, needs, and growth cycles.  Cycles of development take time.  Take the long view and exercise patience to develop what is precious to your life and your children’s lives.  Realize that exploration takes time as does the development of your skills.  You may have a natural talent for something, but skills still need development and honing to attain the level of mastery.  It also takes time to develop contacts and build relationships in your new career field so that you can eventually get a job or build a successful business in your career passion.  Realistic expectations will prevent sabotaging what look like minimal results, when in fact the results maybe appropriate for the developmental stage of your career.


This leads to a key secret in the development of anything new, including career passion.  Take baby steps every day, rather than gigantic steps on unsure legs in difficult terrain.  Plan for slow, steady success over the long-term.  Realistic expectations eliminate self-punishing fears and anxieties associated with taking quantum leaps beyond one’s experience or abilities.  Even if you are willing to begin the exploration and want to do so, you may say I still don’t have the energy or time.  Here are a few tips to give you more energy and time.


Working at a job or career one is unhappy with or feels unsuited for is energy zapping in itself.  So the very “reasons” to stay safe and not explore one’s career passions becomes a source of energy drain.  This is a kind of Catch 22.  Just making the decision that you will explore what could be a fulfilling career for you, can give you a surprising boost of energy.  It’s very possible that you’ll get a sense that your life today does not have to define your future.  The seven practices below can turbo charge your energy level if you consistently practice them so that they develop into new habits.

1.      Change how you talk to yourself and what you say about yourself to others.  Speak to yourself in compassionate and encouraging words.  Talk to others focusing on the good that is in your life and how grateful you are for these good things.

2.      Visualize positive feelings and outcomes instead of negative ones.

3.      Identify your “whys” or your reasons for living and working.

4.      Notice your successes.

5.      Improve your health and physiology.

6.      Alternate between work, play and relaxation so you don’t burn out.

7.      Create rituals that automatically keep you focused and positive.


You can gain more time than you thought possible by applying these time management practices.

1.      Get help from your spouse and children to help you do household chores by having a heart-to-heart talk and enrolling them in a greater vision that’s better for all.

2.      Get assistance from friends or family by bartering or exchanging services, such as babysitting, carpooling, etc.  You may have t get to know your neighbors!

3.      Guard against time wasters which can easily consume 4 hours a day, including watching TV, reading junk emails, as well as not knowing what is the next most important things to do.


When your “whys” are big enough and compelling enough, just as the grandmother who lifted the car off her grandson’s leg, you will find a way.  It has often been said, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”  This has been true at every new frontier, whether it was sending a man to the moon for the first time, Lance Armstrong coming back from metastasized cancer to win his 7th Tour de France cycling race, or Mahatma Gandhi who decided to end British colonialism in India through peaceful means.  In each case, the pioneer made a decision to go for the ultimate goal, without knowing how or if they would reach their goal.  They just decided, keeping the goal fiercely in the forefront of their minds.  This is available to you too. You can decide that you’ll have a passionate career and that you’ll reach this goal no matter what it takes.  And you will!


Use the ideas and practices above on a daily basis to help you break through your roadblocks, your mindset, that says, “It’s impossible to have your career passion.”  These daily practices will begin to develop a new way of being and thinking which will expand your sense of possiblities and give you new hope for your future.  I invite you to pick one and start today.


We have identified some of the roadblocks stopping you from your career passion and how you can break through them.  Stay tuned for the next steps in an article on the “Secrets to Uncovering Your Career Passion”.

About Roseto Sprouts and Roseto Group:

Roseto Sprouts is a blog of Roseto Group.  Roseto Group is a business and technology consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are a coalition of experts in diverse fields offering customized solutions for our clients’ career and business needs. Our services include: Career and Leadership Coaching; Talent Development and Training; Logo, Web design and Social media; Software Engineering Quality and Process; Product Management; Branding and Marketing.

Joyce Kawasaki, J. D. is a consultant, facilitator and speaker, specializing in career transitions, career passions, and employee engagement. She has personally been through 7 successful career transitions and speaks from the voice of experience.  She helps you get past your inner roadblocks to get on track to uncover your career passion!

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