In my senior year of high school, I thought my passion was writing. I wanted to write every day for the rest of my life.
Fast-forward years later: I am a data science professional. I have always been, ever since I graduated with an economics degree in April 2015. Despite analytics and data science being way off from writing, I am truly happy with my career choice. And the reason why? It’s because of balance.
I have found a way to balance my passion for writing with my day-to-day activities at work. It was a tough journey filled with ups and downs at the onset, but I am now comfortable with mixing both.
Here are five ways to enjoy your passions at work—even if your job has nothing to do with them.
1. Understand your “ikigai.”
The Japanese term ikigai” means “a reason for being.” Understanding your “ikigai” means having a clear purpose in life that ultimately leads to happiness and contentment. Psychologists use this concept to help others narrow down their career choices. According to the theory, a person’s ”ikigai” is the intersection between what they love, what the world needs, what you can be paid for and what you are good at.
When I used this concept, I found that I loved storytelling, working with others, and finding solutions. I knew the world needs problem solvers who have empathy. I can be paid for my analytics skills, and I am good at storytelling, numbers, and communicating with others. After reflecting on my answers, I realized Data Science was a great path—one of the required skills is in data storytelling, a way of communicating data in ways that can be easily understood.
2. Look for a workplace that supports your passions.
A person’s environment plays a crucial role in their overall happiness and satisfaction. If your environment inspires you, creative ideas can form and develop. If the environment is taxing, stressful and just plain toxic, it kills your creative juices, leaving you with a feeling of dread and unease.
I always prided myself on being able to write anything. Once I have an idea, I can easily translate those thoughts into words. When I worked in an environment that was not a good fit for me, I could not write a single word. This feeling of unease led me to question my decisions and priorities. I was feeling bereft since writing has always been a part of my identity. As soon as I left that environment, I was able to write an 80,000-word novel in five days.
Environment matters. The right one will nourish you and the wrong one will drain you.
3. Join interest clubs and engagement activities in the workplace.
Once you find a workplace with an environment that works for you, discover interesting clubs and other activities you can join. In my current organization, I am part of a team that writes for our quarterly newsletter. I also help organize engagement activities. While it is extra work on top of my day-to-day tasks, it makes me happy to practice my passions in the workplace. It also makes me stand out as an employee.
4. Find time to do your passion in your 9-5 work grind.
There are 24 hours in a day and your 9-5 job takes up a lot of time already. However, we all need to relax and unwind. The best way to incorporate your passions is to set aside some time for them. For me, I try to spend at least fifteen minutes a day writing. Sometimes, I free write; other times, I just think of plot points and characterizations. I am still trying my best to do what I love little by little, every single day.
5. Find a role model and emulate them.
We should all look for someone to aspire to be. By finding people who inspire us, we become motivated to pursue our interests. Your inspiration can be anyone who inspires you to pursue your goals. They can be within your organization, a relative, a friend or an industry leader. It is even better if you can talk to them, pick their mind and get their insight. If they have written about their life, read their work and learn from their experience. Mentors guide you to be the best version of yourself. Not only do they provide tips and best practices, but they can also give constructive criticism that can help you along the journey.