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A truth we don’t often like to acknowledge is that feeling passion for your work is far from an inevitability. Indeed, many of us — surely most, in fact — work for reasons that are purely pragmatic. We do what we do to support ourselves and our families, taking whichever jobs provide the best salaries or the broadest sets of worthwhile perks.

Perhaps the main reason why this goes unsaid is that the internet age has over-indulged our natural tendency to compare our lives to those of others. If you do a job you love then you’re succeeding in a way that transcends profit or material gain: you’re living the dream. And so it is that so many of us feel pressure — particularly from social media — to live our ideal lives.

This is highly destructive, and you shouldn’t feel defective or inadequate if you view your job as a job and nothing more. That said, you can have passion for work itself. What’s the distinction here? It’s simple. If you have general passion for work, you’ll feel enthusiastic about the challenges you face (be they professional, personal, or both). You’ll be better equipped to face the turbulence of life, having the will and the energy to bounce back from every disappointment.

This general passion doesn’t stem from a given job, or even a series of jobs. It comes from within you — but it can be eroded over time through boredom, stagnation and disillusionment. To rekindle it, you’ll need to pursue self-improvement, and in this post we’re going to set out a few key ways in which working on yourself can renew your drive to work. Let’s get to them.

Learning can inspire you to teach others

In all likelihood, even in these unusual times, you’re still part of an organized collective: a company with administrators steering a workforce towards high-priority goals. Supposing that’s the case, then part of your job — whether explicit or implicit — is to help your colleagues. If you’re a manager, you must keep those under you moving in the right direction. And if you’re part of a team, you may need to offer advice and guidance to your junior coworkers.

This bears noting because self-improvement through learning new things and expanding your horizons won’t just refresh your eagerness to do your job — it will also give you the itch to pass on that improved knowledge. Humans are natural communicators, eager to tell stories and pass things along. Training sessions are typically more fun for the trainers than the attendees. You can set up a slideshow, take questions, and provide challenges.

And in the event that you work alone, perhaps as a freelancer, then you can still indulge that desire to teach. One practical option is to sell an online course through a service such as Teachable (visit other Teachable reviews at your leisure, but this one is comprehensive): with the global economy in such poor shape, there’s every reason to add an income stream. But you don’t have to charge for your guidance if you don’t wish to. You can simply run free webinars through YouTube or any other platforms that suit your preferences.

New skills can open new creative avenues

Having looked at how broadening your knowledge can spark your eagerness to help those around you (to be what a LinkedIn evangelist would describe as a “thought leader”), we must also consider how the addition of new skills can reignite your passion for work simply through giving you compelling new creative avenues.

It’s possible, after all, that you’ve lost your passion simply because you’re bored: you’re stuck in a rut, going through the same tasks you’ve done time and time again. New creative avenues can involve doing the work you already do but in new ways that make it feel fresh and engaging again — or they can give you room to branch out and take on new tasks (particularly if you’re a freelancer, as previously suggested, or have a wide-ranging remit).

You might discover a deep-seated desire to change your career path entirely, moving away from what you’ve done before and towards unfamiliar pastures. You might be a proficient graphic designer with all the experience and positive referrals needed to consistently make money through freelancer sites like Fiverr, but it’s possible that you could make enough money (while being much happier) as a carpenter. Pragmatism is always important, but don’t let it trick you into thinking there’s only one viable path to success. Use your head and your heart in tandem and you’ll make good choices.

Better health can alleviate your anxiety

If you’ve felt stressed and frustrated during 2020, you’re in the same position as mostly everyone else. The future feels more uncertain than ever before, so how can you focus on your work? Well, it’s vital to remember that your perception isn’t an accurate reflection of reality — and a change in your mindset might leave things seeming significantly brighter. It might not feel like it sometimes, but you can take action to bring about such a change.

One way to achieve this change is to try things like meditation and practicing mindfulness, but while I don’t mean to dismiss those options (they certainly hold value), something more valuable that often goes overlooked is simply looking after your health. That means both your physical health and your mental health — they’re closely linked, after all.

It isn’t easy to change your habits, but it’s doable if you take things slowly and make steady progress. Within weeks of improving your diet, getting more exercise, and avoiding things that cause you unnecessary distress, you’ll find that you feel markedly less anxiety about your work (and life in general), leaving you to focus more on what you like about your career. It’s less about building new passion, then, and more about allowing old passion to resurface.

If you’ve lost all passion for work, don’t just settle for the daily drudge. Things can be better, and you have the tools to make them better. Make a commitment to improving yourself in all meaningful ways, and you’ll soon find your outlook improving.