Follow Your Passion in Your Professional Life Too

Published on: September 21, 2018

Thoughts on considering new career paths while finding a balance between doing what one loves and managing family and financial obligations. By Joel Farnworth   A while ago I wrote a short piece with a few positive tips for moms considering a return to work. Positive in that so many employers are realizing the value of a gender-diverse workforce. However, when I saw the theme for this month’s magazine, “following your passion”, it made me think again of all those who may be making career choices and not just returning moms. My own early experiences (some while ago) bear no relation to the choices available and being made today. Parental influence was one of safety, getting a “good” job, which usually meant banking, the civil service or some such. I spent 12 years with one and 22 with the other, and I was not alone. I came close once to the passion route (I qualified as a golf coach), but finances and thoughts of hours in the hot sun brought a dose of reality that doused the passionate fire. Today, with the gig economy and a variety of contract options available in markets across the globe, braver souls are choosing work to enjoy and live. On a seminar recently in Singapore, the speaker was at a loss to explain his son’s approach–work enough at something he was relatively positive about (teaching music some 25 hours a week) to fund what he really wanted to do–travel, hillwalk, mountain bike and similar pursuits. Research suggests that these sort of approaches are increasing and those choosing the formal career route are and will continue to reduce in number. But what about the longer term and what happens to them down the road, I hear you ask? Well, I have that question too, and there do not seem to be many answers around other than “Hey, we’ll work it out”–which they probably will.
“The balance in the journey is much more important than a few good years at the end – if you make it that far.”
It’s obviously great if you can find this sort of balance in your life and all those pushing us to take this approach should be applauded, but a couple of points from one who’s a little older (if not necessarily wiser). Yes, my experiences are different and perhaps not relevant but I DID have my passion for work period–even within the old-style economy–for the dozen years or so I was first involved in Learning and Development. The personal development opportunities, the exposure to people and cultures (35 countries, 50+ nationalities), the challenges of the various environments and experiences–loved it, absolutely loved it! Then I met my wife, had kids, and found out what was really important. Wonder how the “we’ll work it out” crowd will handle that? I do try hard not to be limited in seeing how all this may eventually pan out. After all, none of us really know, and our experiences may or may not be relevant. That said, it is hard to see how much flex and passion one can hang on to when life’s realities and responsibilities kick in. But perhaps those advocating finding something workwise that we like or even enjoy will be voices we need to listen to. A cautionary note to end with, that may encourage your own thoughts about combining preferences with career. A long-time friend in a similar line of work to me admitted recently that he had always disliked what he did and found it difficult to go and do it day in and day out. He was very, very good at it and none of us had ever guessed how much he really disliked it. So, why did he do it for some 20 years plus? Money!! “I worked out that I was going to be paid a lot for a certain period of time and that, if I could stand it, I could stop doing it (or anything else) at an early age–and I did!” When I asked him whether it was worth it, he said unequivocally, “Absolutely not.” Knowing I write articles like this, he added, “And tell people the balance in the journey is much more important than a few good years at the end–if you make it that far”.  

About the Author

Joel is a mature dad who juggles time with his children and providing consulting services on HR and Leadership capability development. provides more info or contact:
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