With passion, work becomes more than a job – it becomes an art form, a calling, fulfillment in our lives. Workers who are passionate about their careers often feel more engaged with projects and energized to overcome obstacles. These people are vital to the success of an organization.
However, there are times when having too much passion for your work turns detrimental, resulting in eventual burnout.
A Harvard Business Review article examined the work of Robert H. Vallerand who proposed a Dualistic Model for Passion. According to the article, psychological research suggests there are two different types of passion: harmonious passion and obsessive passion. Workers who experience harmonious passion engage in their work because it brings them intrinsic joy – they maintain a sense of control over their job and know when to disengage.
On the other hand, workers who experience obsessive passion feel an uncontrollable urge to engage in work constantly, neglecting other areas of their lives. In this situation, the job controls the person. These workers experience many negative effects that can lead quickly to burnout:
- Inability to stop thinking about work
- High frustration with setbacks
- Negative view of self
- Persistence even when risk is present
- Conflict with other life tasks
- Neuroticism and perfectionism
- Trouble with interpersonal relationships
Working in a creative agency, there are times when disengaging from work is difficult. Deadlines shrink, tension levels grow, and the desire to accomplish a goal becomes consuming. During these times, I find it hard to pull myself away – I may be working late hours, brainstorming in the shower or even letting projects invade my dreams!
Still, maintaining the balance of harmonious passion is crucial to long-term success without burnout. Below are some ways to balance passion between your work and your life.
1. Don’t Take Work Home
When possible, leave your work at work. Unavoidably, some projects run past business hours, and we do what must be done to hit deadlines. I personally prefer working later at the office to complete an assignment, rather than working all night from home. Separating my work life from my home life creates a divide. This allows me to enjoy other aspects of my day and return to the office refreshed.
2. Reward Yourself After Completing Project Milestones
Rewarding yourself throughout a project reminds you to pause and feel good about the work you’ve done. Got your deliverables in on time? Movie night. Nailed a big presentation? Happy Hour. Celebrating small work victories will help you take pride in your achievements and provide a mental break before the next assignment.
3. Feed Passions Unrelated to Work
The mark of a harmoniously passionate person is balanced focus between work and life. The best way to ensure this balance is feeding passions outside of the office. Hobbies during leisure time relax and refresh the mind and body, increase creativity and knowledge, and build new connections. Read about some of our passions in our previous blog post – Side Projects: The Importance of Personal Art.
4. Know When to Let Go
There comes a point during every project when you have to stop nitpicking, stop editing, and stop tweaking design flaws. For creative work, this can be difficult – you’ve crafted something beautiful, and you want it to be perfect. This is where obsession generally hits a normally balanced worker. It is important to learn when to simply let go and be satisfied with the end result.
5. Change Your Thinking
This, above all else, is the most important step. By simply reinforcing positivity in your thinking, you can take control over your feelings toward work. Rather than thinking “I must get through this difficult task,” change your thoughts to “I can’t wait to challenge myself with this new task.” Easier said than done, I know. But at the end of the day, our lives are the creation of our minds.
Avoiding burnout in your career is crucial to long-term success. What ways do you balance your passion for work with your life?