By Nancy Anderson

(850 words)

Finding your passion is like solving a mystery; you need to know how to interpret the clues that indicate you are on the right track. Following are five passion clues, as well as five signals that let you know that you are headed in the wrong direction.

Passion Clue # 1: You would do the work even if you did not get paid for it.
This is the most difficult clue to discover of all because, like many people, you probably believe that you cannot do what you love for a living and make the money you need (note that I said need, not want). This belief is the result of a negative attitude toward work in general, and despair over past downturns in the economy: depressions, recessions, and other social and political upheavals that led entire generations to conclude that work was for survival, not inner satisfaction. Negative beliefs about work are also the result of lack of faith in the creative process of life, that downs are followed by ups. The key is to learn from our mistakes so that we make better choices in the future.

Passion Clue # 2: You are focused on mastering your work, not on the outcome.
Mastery means that you are willing to work long and hard to become good at what you do for a living. As you do this work you are open to criticism; in fact, you welcome critics since they show you how to improve your work. Even destructive critics can be helpful because they force you to stand up for what you believe.

Passion Clue # 3: You are transformed into a better person as you do the work.
When you do the work you love the experience of giving without expecting a return transforms you into a disciplined, effective person. As the years go by, you focus on what you can control, and you let go of what you cannot control. Because of your concentration and self-discipline, your work becomes a finer expression of who you are. This commitment to excellence turns you into a kinder and even more powerful person than you were before.

Passion Clue # 4: You are not aware that time is going by.
As you do the work you love you feel as if time is standing still. You are in a high, peaceful place, quietly observing without judging. This highly creative state of mind produces startling, new, and original discoveries, which you apply to your work.

Passion Clue # 5: You are paid to be who you are.
Getting paid to work at your own pace and in your own way is the strongest clue that you are on the path to passion. You are true to your temperament, and you do not betray your values to please others. If you are an introvert you work in a quiet environment at a slow pace. If you are an extrovert, you get paid to interact with people in stimulating environments. It may take time for you to achieve economic stability, but once you get there you know that getting there was all the fun.

Five signals that let you know when you are off the passion track:

Off Track Signal # 1: Making money is your priority.
Material goals are not in themselves wrong, but they often interfere with expression of the feelings. And since passion is an intense feeling, it is vital that you make inner satisfaction your priority in work, not the amount of money you make.

Off Track Signal # 2: You are concerned about how you look in the eyes of others.
The need for recognition is often a holdover from an earlier period of life, perhaps when you did not get the attention you wanted from a parent or other early caretaker. Set goals that will gain your own approval. That will overcome your fear that you are not good enough as you are.

Off Track Signal # 3: You are focused on the end result, not the process.
Worrying about the outcome of any goal is an effective way to sabotage your peace of mind. Keep your mind focused on the day you are in. Set small goals you can reach. That will lead to greater confidence about larger goals.

Off Track Signal # 4: You take shortcuts to achieve your objectives.
Mediocrity is the result of taking shortcuts, so when you are tempted to take the quick and easy path, remember that the best path is difficult at first then it gets easier. The wrong path is always easy at first; then it gets difficult!

Off Track Signal # 5: You sacrifice your needs for others’ needs.
Self-sacrifice can be a noble way of life, but not when it is destructive to your emotional and physical health, such as the times when you let others take advantage of your kindness and sympathy. See people as they are, not as you want them to be. Honesty is the most effective way to balance your needs with their needs.

Author Nancy Anderson worked with career counseling firms for five years before starting her own practice. Over the next several years she wrote Work With Passion, based on her experience with clients. She lives and works (with a great deal of passion) in Mill Valley, California
Based on: WORK WITH PASSION by Nancy Anderson. Trade Paperback,
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Author's Bio: 

Nancy Anderson is a nationally acclaimed career and life consultant and the author of the best selling career guide, Work with Passion, How To Do What You Love For a Living (New World Library, 1984). She was a Regents Scholar at the University of California where she graduated magna cum laude with an interdisciplinary degree in English and Political Science. Following graduation in 1976, she helped start a career consulting firm in San Francisco with two partners. Five years later (1981) she started her own business, at which time she wrote Work with Passion, based on her own and her clients' experiences.

She's had her own radio show and has participated in radio talk show interviews, as well being a regular guest on a San Francisco morning television show, and live interviews for CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS.

Nancy has spoken to groups such as The Commonwealth Club, The National Association of Colleges and Employers, The Learning Annex, Chambers of Commerce and women's organizations like the National Association of Executive Women, as well as churches and other spiritually-based organizations. Publications as diverse as The New York Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Female Executive, Working Woman, Inc, Yoga Journal and Home Arts (an on-line production of Hearst New Media and Technology) have interviewed her or discussed her book.

Today, Nancy uses the process in Work with Passion to guide her clients into jobs and businesses that match their values. She lives and works (with a great deal of passion) in Mill Valley, California.