It was Monday. I sat down at my desk and looked through some “important” emails. My mind drifted as I thought about my last trip to Australia. I felt I had only scratched the surface of such a beautiful country. I dreamed about exploring the outback, hiking in Tasmania, and diving on the Great Barrier Reef. My day dreams were abruptly interrupted as I received an urgent call to submit a report by the end of the day. Yet another request which fulfilled a requirement, but was quite pointless. I regretfully pulled my mind away from Australia and got back to my work. How long could I sit here and work on something I didn’t care about? I was safe and comfortable, but I had lost the passion for my work long ago. Every day I struggled to justify why I was still here.
We have all felt like this. Stuck in a job we don’t enjoy, yet afraid to leave. This is where I found myself. I was afraid to quit my job, but I knew it wasn’t my passion. I had to do something, but what? This is the push and pull feeling that we all have experienced. It usually involves feeling safe, but being pulled by an ambition or passion. This is the feeling of ambivalence that is so hard to combat; knowing we have to change, but not doing anything about it.
I decided to quit my job in August 2017. The decision to quit my job was a huge one. I knew I had to follow my passion. In my mind, I had no other choice. I want to go through my feelings and beliefs over the past 4 years working full time. I hope my experiences can inspire you to follow your passions and find what drives you. My experiences will turn your ambivalence into action.
Forming New Ideas about Passion and Responsibility
I didn’t always know what I wanted to do. My young college self was a prime example of this. Coming out of college is a tough time since you feel like you need to find a job immediately. There is a huge expectation to get a job and put your degree to work and countless opportunities. There are so many industries to work in and so many different locations to work in. Without much working experience, it is really hard to figure out what you really want. This is where I found myself when I graduated.
I was enthralled by all the opportunities in front of me, but I didn’t know how to decide. Companies seemed to be offering the world. In my limited work experience, I knew I liked some things, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do long term. My passion had started to develop around triathlon and exercise, but they were just beginning to form. I really did not know what I wanted.
I was very lucky to be offered a job early in the aerospace engine industry. The operation was very impressive and the opportunity to move up seemed massive. It was going to be a lot of desk work, but that seemed like the best way to create new and innovative designs. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to change transportation and make my impact on the world. Leaving school was bittersweet. I wasn’t quite ready to lose the free life style, and sign up for the 9 to 5. But, this is what you do? Right?
New Beginnings in the Corporate Landscape
In the beginning, I enjoyed working in the aerospace industry. There was so much to learn and so many new things to see. Every day was new and I could apply my skills in new and interesting ways. That trend lasted for about a year. I was continually busy building skills outside my comfort zone.
In my second year, I had developed many of the core competencies to complete my job. Tasks that were hard became mundane and easy. I started to think about ways to do things better. Slowly, I tried to implement new thinking to 50-year-old concepts (the aerospace industry holds on to things for a long time). Often I was stonewalled or simply told to go work on “something more important.” These important items were often checking a box on unnecessary items. I tried to change the way things were done, but my creativity was severely limited.
In year three I knew that I had to do something different. This is when I enrolled to get my Master’s of Global Management (similar to a Master’s of International Business). This is where my ideas about what work needed to be started to change…
New Realizations about Work and Passion
I knew at the start of my third year of working that my current job was not my passion. I began to actively seek other corporate roles which I thought would fit me. This was met with limited success, but it did seem to open up more possibilities. My experiences at work were becoming very mundane. I found myself doing the same tasks over and over again. There were no outlets to express my creativity. Work started to become the day to day drag that I had feared.
Meanwhile, my master’s degree was slowly progressing. It opened my eyes to new possibilities. I was finally getting exposure to new business ideas. This gave me a better idea of what I might want to do. However, I was still struggling to uncover what I was really passionate about.
Exploring Vietnam with my master’s degree
My master’s degree opened the door to a new way of thinking. I began to actively seek new learning opportunities. I immersed myself in podcasts, books, and videos. My explorations showed me a different way of living. People were living with passion and doing what they wanted to do. Their paths to passion was never a straight road; they followed a wayward path. I found that I didn’t have to follow the “set path.”
Exploring New Opportunities
People always say that you need to find your passion. But what does that even mean? We find passions in life, but our goals shift over time. This was a huge discovery for me. I realized that I could start on one path and switch to another. Life is not a straight path to success and happiness. There are random stops and turns along the way that makes you who you are. You may not know where you are going, but everything you do makes you who you become.
I began to attack life with an attitude of experimentation. I wasn’t afraid to try new things and push my boundaries. Without realizing it, I was expanding my comfort zone. I was becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.
My first half ironman – a huge expansion of my comfort zone
This is about the time I started driving for Uber. It became my own business venture where I enhanced my service with Starburst, water, and good conversation. It was my gateway to entrepreneurship. I began to experiment with other ways to help people solve problems. Soon after, Tri For Travel was born. This was a huge step in establishing my own business. I learned how to build a new online business from the ground up. There was so much to learn and so much my degrees had not taught me.
Feeling Stuck and Uncovering a Deep Seated Passion
Building my website was quite a process. I ran into road blocks, tech issues, and burnout. It was never easy, but soon I began to uncover a passion I didn’t know I had. I enjoyed working on my website more and more. My thirst for knowledge increased dramatically. Helping people get fit and eat right gave me a deep seated satisfaction I never felt before. I didn’t want to work on anything besides my website.
There was one huge problem with that. I was working at a job I could tolerate, but I didn’t love. I owned a house and a mortgage, and I felt stuck living a life I didn’t enjoy. My regular work made me feel like a shell of my true self. I still performed the best I could at my job, but the passion was gone. I knew I wanted to pursue fitness and health, but I didn’t know how.
Exploring fitness and health
My master’s degree was also opening up the door to many new opportunities. I began to feel the push and pull that I felt when I graduated from college. There was a diverse set of opportunities in front of me, but I had no idea what to pursue.
Following my Heart and Doing What I Needed to DO
I thought a lot about where to go upon completion of my degree. Was I ignoring my calling? Was this job running me into the ground? Would I be stuck forever? Deep down I knew what I had to do. We go through many different phases in life, and I was about to enter a new one.
It was at this point that I knew what I had to do. My heart was telling me I had to take some time off to find myself. Taking time to travel would open my eyes to new opportunities and experiences. I knew I wouldn’t come back with an all knowing description of my life and passions, but I knew it would give me some clarity.
The time off for travel turned into a fitness endeavor as fitness had become a cornerstone of my life. I wanted to explore the US as I had always been fascinated by its diverse landscapes and people. A cross country bike tour became the only option.
My new bike Emma – ready to take on our tour
Breaking Stereotypes and Taking on the Unknown
The decision to quit my job and embark on a bike tour was not easy. I had established a comfort zone being at home with a great salary as a security blanket. It would be very difficult to leave.
Without knowing it I had been expanding my comfort zone for a long time. This made the unknown a little more comfortable. I wasn’t afraid to try something new because I had already been trying something new every day. My new business, school work, and fitness pursuits had given me the confidence to do what I needed to do. The bike tour was a logical step on my journey.
My planned route
Everything I had done led to this point. Taking the plunge was still difficult, but once I made up my mind the decision was easy. All my prior experience and work had led up this point. It became less about the unknown and more about doing what I had to do. The fear of the unknown had switched to the fear of missing out.
My Experiences with Passion and the Wayward Journey of Life
I learned a lot about myself and a lot about the journey of life these past four years. Some parts were hard and others were amazing. I had a lot of ups and down, but I learned a lot about myself. I found that finding passion is not as easy as it sounds. You often have to take a wayward path to find what you’re looking for. Growing comfortable with being uncomfortable has been huge for me. It has allowed me to push my boundaries and pursue what I need to pursue. It is from this mindset and my attitude of continuous learning and improvement that has allowed me to get where I am now.
I want to encourage you to follow what your heart is telling you. Sometimes it can feel murky, but if you keep working towards what you truly want you will find it. It won’t be easy and it will take time. When you get there you will feel truly fulfilled. Passion comes with time and exploration. Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment to find what fuels you. All the success you see out there ignores the journey and focuses on the end result. Remember that everyone goes through the journey. Don’t be afraid to start your own!
Where has your journey in life taken you? What has been the most effective ways you have found to find what drives you? How do you experiment to expand your comfort zone? Let me know in the comments.
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