As a new business owner starting my own private practice, I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about finding passion in my work. If you own your own business, you have to be excited about your work every single day in order to stay on task. You don’t have a boss holding you accountable, and you quickly discover you are only as successful as the time and energy you put into your work. Which all means I HAVE to be passionate about my work. And that passion is what keeps me going when tasks are boring, days are slow, technology is tedious or the work just isn’t “fun.”
So what does passion for work have to do with mental health?
One element I have found to be true over and over again, is that a great passion for work is a protective factor towards maintaining balanced mental health. In this blog I have talked about eating well to feel well, including exercise and choosing a good therapist when you need a little extra help coping… in addition to those things, I want you to consider whether or not you have passion for the work that you do.
How do you spend your time each day? Do you constantly complain about your job? Do you dread Monday mornings? Or are you excited to go into work? Do you love your co-workers and look forward to whatever challenges the day might bring?
Whatever you do for a living, however you choose to occupy your time- you MUST be passionate about it. Find a job you enjoy. Maybe you are like me and were brought up to believe work is work- its not supposed to be fun. Well, my parents were wrong! (Sorry, Mom… you can rest assured you were right about pretty much everything else, though). The truth is that work does not have to be painful, boring or dreadful. You just have to find what it is that makes you passionate.
Having passion for your work helps you maintain good, balanced mental health because it is fulfilling. One component of mental health is an innate desire to seek meaning in our life–if you think your job is meaningless and boring, you will feel meaningless and boring. Our mental health is also greatly affected by our physical surroundings and relationships… if you have a seriously negative work environment, it will eventually effect your mental health, resulting in anxiety or depression.
One thing is for certain- every person I know who is truly happy most of the time (say a solid 90% of days) loves what they do for work. They have passion and excitement every day that keeps them fulfilled, stimulated, and challenged yet balanced.
If you are not one of those “mostly happy” people, or you want to work on maintaining or achieving more balanced mental health- maybe its time to take a look at your work. And find your passion.