3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Your Passion at Work

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The pandemic has prompted millions of people to examine the way work fits into their lives, including how to do work that they're passionate about.

As people continue to move around in the Great Resignation, therapist, author and podcast host Esther Perel says job-seekers should keep it simple: "Do something that you're interested in," she tells CNBC Make It.

That can feel hard to pin down when, in a job-seeker's market, it feels like you have your pick of opportunities. Or you might be starting from scratch and figuring out a new industry or career path to explore.

To find a new job that'll last, Perel suggests asking yourself three questions to figure out what you need in a role for it to be interesting and spark passion:

  1. Do I want to continuously learn by trying new things every day or do I want to work on the same problem and become an expert on one central issue?
  2. Who do I want to work with to solve these problems? Do I want to work for a boss who will guide me to develop my career?
  3. Who do I want my work to serve?

With that said, Perel adds, "I don't know that you need to have passion all the time."

She understands why people, especially young people, want their job to inspire passion. Work is often the center of people's lives, how they derive meaning in their day and how they build social connection in an era when people are starting families later and are less likely to be part of religious groups.

But having high expectations to be passionate about your job isn't always realistic. It could even lead to burnout.

"We live in a period in which there is a tremendous mandate for happiness," Perel says. "You have to find meaning, belonging, purpose and self-development at work. It's over-packed with expectations."

Instead, she encourages people to acknowledge that finding meaning in work isn't always about what you're producing. If there are days you find yourself saying, "I don't care about my job," for example, Perel says you might draw extrinsic meaning from the exchange of work itself — "I care about the fact that working enables me to feed my family, or to send money to my parents who are abroad," she says.

Passion doesn't come in one form, she adds: "Sometimes the meaning is not intrinsic to what you do, it's to what you can do with the money you earn from what you do. That gives value to your work."

Perel has said before that finding passion at work isn't always the ultimate goal, and to instead focus on finding a job teaches you new skills, has room to grow and supports your lifestyle. Most importantly, she says, "Find the right teacher, because the most boring topic with a good teacher will become fascinating."

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