It’s not easy to find your passion.

As a child my parents always had a pretty good idea about which classes I like in school, mainly because I wouldn’t shut up about them. I would go on and on about my limited knowledge of the Civil War, or my even more limited knowledge of the importance of symbols in The Great Gatsby (“Green buoys represent the American Dream!” I would excitedly shout, not sure at all what the American Dream was and with only a faint understanding of buoys). Unable to contain my excitement about a subject, I would ramble with what could be accurately described as ‘childlike wonder’ on History, English, even gym.

My parents would start to worry about my teachers if they noticed an extended silence on the subjects where I showed a passion. Once, when they asked me if everything was alright at school, they explained that I hadn’t been talking about history as much lately. And they were right, I was having problems in a class that usually came easily to me, which was frustrating. It was a small observation which I would carry for the rest of my life.

Find your passion by finding your focus

It’s a strategy that can work even if you’re an introvert: what are you focused on? This is deeper than the basic ‘do what you love ethos’, because it can apply to chores that seem tedious. Often, we’re required to make lists and work through systems that can go against our natural grain of thought.

This can be very helpful: the human mind is not always best equipped to think out complex projects, and our own emotional patterns don’t always match up with the way work settles out. Nobody is happy at work at all the time, such is the nature of the beast.

But, in daily work, opinions rise up. Even in the most menial jobs, it is hard not to have a thought on the systems you’re running through. Taking note of these thoughts, even if they’re just passing feelings, is worthwhile. Emotional reactions towards work don’t always mean more effective work, but sometimes they do!

If you’re talking about an aspect of your job constantly, or even just thinking about it, its worth bringing up with co-workers. While this might seem like an obvious tip, it’s easy to be complacent in a workplace culture. Keep track of your own feelings and reactions.

Not everything needs to wrap around your feelings, of course. But if something sticks in your mind after a couple days, consider bringing it up. Your own reactions to work can be as valid as any system to which you’ve become accustomed, and by definition they come from the heart. Taking stock of your own likes and dislikes and making them matter is necessary for any strong workplace.

This story was originally published in WeWork Magazine. Photography by Joshua Fernandez

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