The Art of Transitioning Within: Why Your 9-5 Could Be Your Greatest Asset in Living Out Your Passion
“People quit on jobs. They quit on marriages. They quit on school. There’s an immediacy of this day and age that doesn’t lend itself to being committed to anything.” –Emily Blunt
Here is an interesting story…
Whenever people ask us about our “old” lives working in Public Relations (Leah) and Policing (Naz), they almost don’t seem to want to hear that before we resigned, we actually enjoyed our jobs, that we took steps to make changes within, and that we got along pretty great with our colleagues and bosses.
It wasn’t soul-sucking. It wasn’t completely miserable. But was there something missing? Yes.
Although it might not be a super sexy story to say we mostly enjoyed our day jobs, it’s the truth—and it was crucial in helping us get to where we are today, because it was the training ground that helped us to:
- Get clearer on our passions
- Gain confidence from the safety of our jobs
- Experience personal growth without the financial pressures of up and leaving
- Become happy while in our day jobs, instead of hoping a new career or job would deliver that happiness
- Realize that the world didn’t revolve around us
- Take full responsibility for how we experienced our day-to-day despite the external circumstances.
Which leads us to the question: at what point did “quit your job” become this super sexy and sought-after thing? And why is it that anyone who suddenly up and quits their “soul-sucking” day job (even with no safety net) is raised up onto a pedestal, applauded and admired?
It has almost become sacrilegious to join entrepreneurial or passion-focused communities or events with a day job in tow… what the hell??!!
Unfortunately, the “day job” has become a convenient scapegoat for an unfulfilling and mediocre life. And not just that, it has put incredible amounts of pressure on people like you guys who are in pursuit of your purpose because it can almost feel like “I must quit in order to find/live my passion.” When in fact many people we have worked with actually stay in their day jobs, while transitioning within to make things more palatable, while they are busy creating things on the side.
The fact is that most people are not in a financial position to up and quit their jobs on a whim, and so this black-and-white thinking (quit or be miserable) can actually fuel the despair and frustration.
But, thankfully, that’s not the only way! As we hear from many of you struggling to know where exactly to start with all this “live an amazing life” stuff, today we want to share with you:
- Our own journey of transitioning within our existing day jobs (well and truly before we made the leap)
- Why it was crucial that we started our journey to find our passions from within these jobs, instead of up and quitting
- How we began that transition and the strategies and approaches you too can use at your current workplace
- Why our day jobs were our #1 asset in gaining confidence, clarity, personal growth and experimenting with those things we really did love doing.
Because the fact is, the job is never the issue (unless it’s completely toxic and there is emotional or physical abuse occurring). Have you ever noticed how people jump from job to job, only to find the exact same issues, complaints, internal politics, and conflicts with bosses? There is one common denominator.
And the good news is… that common denominator is completely in your control—because it’s you! If you can’t be happy in your current situation or job, it’s going to be mighty hard for you to find happiness anywhere else. And the other thing is that you don’t need to make any dramatic changes right now. You can start this journey from exactly where you are.
So are you guys ready to find out why your 9–5 job could be your greatest asset in pursuing a life of passion? Ready to find out how to capitalize on your current situation that will benefit you and your day job?
Change Starts From Where You Are
“Be happy now, without reason. Or you never will be at all.” –Dan Millman
One of the biggest misconceptions is that change can only start when all the conditions are perfect, for example: When you land that great job, perfect partner, have thousands of $$ in the bank, are living your passion, are traveling the world, when your kids are grown, we you can move cities, etc., etc.
Except the best place to start any kind of change, is from exactly where you are right now (and in particular from your current workplace).
- The present moment is literally all we have
- You can use your current situation as a training ground for the skills, life, opportunities, pursuits, financial goals, etc. that you currently have
- You might actually open up new opportunities to change roles at your job if that’s what you want
- Because if you have the mindset that you already have everything you need, you can actually get started with incremental change instead of a “one day” mindset
- You can spend your time building momentum instead of wasting time complaining about what’s not right about where you are
- You will start to see your current life through a new lens of curiosity and open up new opportunities that were previously obscured from your view
- You will actually allow yourself to enjoy life NOW, instead of waiting for some future goal to be achieved
- You will be able to connect with your colleagues more powerfully, which is important because relationships are EVERYTHING (who knows, they might know someone they can refer you to!).
So how can you start to transition within your 9–5 “day job”—whether that means a mindset transition or a role shift —either way, the tips below all work the same:
How to Make Your 9–5 Your Greatest Asset in Living Out Your Passion
Toward the end of 2012, we both started to feel completely uninspired by the work at our day jobs. Again, we didn’t hate the workplace, our bosses or colleagues (quite the opposite), the work was just “ho hum” and had become mediocre. The sleeping giants within each of us had started to awaken around the time we each had our sons, and we started to develop a sneaking suspicion that we had way more to offer the world…
Except there was one big problem: neither of us had any clue what our passions were!
So after spending around 12 months to work out our interests, strengths, values, etc. (basically everything that contributes to answering the question “what is my passion?”), in 2013 we both joined the How to Connect With Anyone Course. We started viewing life through a new lens of opportunity (thanks to the connection activities and the community forum) at our respective workplaces, and strange things started to happen. We a) started to transform as individuals, b) began to put ourselves into the driver’s seat of our lives, and, most shocking of all, c) actually began to enjoy being at work again!
Hang on a minute… That wasn’t the plan!
And if you’re thinking “Yes that’s great but I hate my boss, my colleagues suck the life out of me, and the conditions at work are so negative”—we dare you to experiment with at least one of the actions listed below to start to making your 9–5 your greatest asset in living out your passion.
1. Get interested in your colleagues
There’s a cool paradox we discovered: if you start to get interested in others, you will suddenly become incredibly interesting! And not just that, you become a very valuable and important person. Why? Because almost no-one is interested in other people’s lives. We are too busy being consumed by our own world. But when we give someone the time of day to just listen and ask questions it’s dynamite for connections within your workplace.
“I used to think some of the people I worked with were completely incompetent and just plain losers (nice, right?!). But as I started to come out of my own self-obsessed world I actually got interested in them and their lives for the first time in 12 years! It was amazing to connect on a deeper level for the first time and actually have some empathy for their situation. As a result, I noticed within weeks that people were confiding in me, they seemed to trust me, and open up to me about all sorts of personal and professional struggles.” –Naz
2. Become interesting & share what matters to you
All too often at workplaces we don’t enjoy we easily complain about all the tasks we loathe. But what if you started instead to talk about the things that you do love doing? Not only would it be a lot more fun, but you would also most certainly stand out.
“Not long after joining CWA I gathered up the courage (I was petrified!) to hit send on an email to my boss asking her if I could run a mini-workshop at our next team meeting about mindfulness (something I was secretly passionate about). This was totally left field given I was working in PR in the construction sector! To my absolute surprise, she said yes! And for the next four or five team meetings I got to present mini-workshops on meditation, productivity, communication, and employee engagement. I was also asked to present at our wider department meeting to 20 people. I had never felt so alive! It even led to me having an open and honest conversation with my boss about my interest areas and my desire to investigate a new role and her suggesting I contact career counseling to explore other options that capitalized more on my natural talents.” –Leah
3. Find out your boss’s pain points
When you are feeling disillusioned, it’s easy to work in your silo and forget that our colleagues and bosses are dealing with their own struggles and pressures. And on top of that, people in more senior positions are very used to people bringing their complaints to them, rather than offering up any potential solutions. As they say, it can be very lonely at the top! And this is where you can really stand out because it’s an approach that almost nobody uses, so be prepared for some surprised reactions.
So after getting interested in your colleagues and in senior management, you will start to notice what their specific challenges are. Get interested in the detail of those challenges if they are willing to share with you.
“Once I started listening to and taking an interest in my boss’s pain points, I could see that the main challenges he was facing were some significant Human Resource issues, engagement between employees and morale in the team. I had been working on developing a closer relationship with him and asked if he could share more detail to see if/how I could support him.” —Naz
4. Discover the intersection between adding value & your interests
Once you’re clear on what the pain points are, start to think about where you can add value that also intersects with your strengths/passions/interests and offer up a solution. You don’t have the have the whole thing worked out, just show that a) you’ve noticed and have been thinking about it, and b) you would love to have a conversation about some potential solutions that you have in mind. Those in more senior positions, or colleagues, will be blown away that you actually care enough to have followed this through and you will make them feel a lot less lonely (especially senior management).
“One day an email came out from our Divisional Manager sharing our department’s employee satisfaction survey. There were a couple of areas that were particularly low in the scoring: one being satisfaction of the day-to-day work people were doing. And one of the things I was becoming more and more interested in at the time was strengths-based leadership, so I decided to send him an email (it was one of the scariest emails I’d ever sent!) letting him know that I’d noticed that that area was low and that I had some ideas of a potential solution.
Later that day he replied thanking me and asking his secretary to set up a meeting for us. I was completely floored that this incredibly high up and busy man made time for little ol’ me. The result? I prepared a presentation for the meeting summarising my ideas and as a result was invited to present to the entire board in a couple of weeks. I started to become visible in the organisation in an area that I was far more passionate about and it was the start of my transition to more enjoyable work.” –Leah
5. Don’t get sucked into negativity
Workplaces can be breeding grounds for negativity and gossiping. Refuse to get sucked into these kinds of conversations, especially when it’s complaining about someone else. It’s almost impossible to transition within if you are being negative with the crowd. Simply thank them for sharing and ask them what they plan on doing about it (this applies to colleagues as well as more senior management). This sends a message that you are a solutions-focused person and it will likely shock a few people.
Viktor E. Frankl puts it best:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
6. Dress for success
Once you have a “foot in the door” and management is taking notice of you and your specific set of skills, be sure to “dress for success”—literally, and also in your interactions and presentations (if relevant). Channel as much of your creativity into this new endeavor as you can and don’t become complacent. When a door opens for a new opportunity, no matter how small, give it your everything and blow them away.
“When I hosted that first mini-workshop for my colleagues, I completely over-prepared and spent many evenings crafting the best workshop I could. Not only because I was totally pumped to be doing that kind of work, but also because I wanted to impress my colleagues and my boss and make a difference to them. I had no idea if it would lead anywhere, but it felt right to give it my all. The same applied to the meeting with the Divisional Manager—I could have just turned up for a nice chat, but instead surprised him with a mini-presentation using my iPad with interactive slides and a short video to demonstrate my ideas and point.” –Leah
“After many weeks of talking to and hearing out my boss and his challenges with employees in the department and offering suggestions on how to solve the problem I was in for quite the shock when one day, my boss said ‘I’ve spoken to the senior leadership team, and I’ve managed to open a space for you to run a 2-day training event for them.’ I was floored and freaking out! Here I was, low in rankings as a Senior Constable and being asked to deliver training to the ‘top brass’ of the force. I said yes, and spent the next few weeks preparing like crazy, barely slept the night before (went for a run at 3am!) and proceeded to deliver 2 days of highly valuable training that was eventually rolled out to my entire unit state-wide. Suddenly I found myself in a brand new, self-created role that was ideally suited to me. It was a steep learning curve, but I had to show up every time, give it my all, and hope it was enough!” –Naz
7. Develop yourself outside of work
Don’t wait until you leave a job to start to develop yourself! Use that time as a precious opportunity to invest in courses, events, workshops, coaching, whatever you can afford to start to peel back the layers and get reconnected to your true potential. You must be prepared to “walk through the fire” and to become more you than you ever have before. You can also ask your work to support you to develop yourself too, most companies have budget for training and development. For both of us we requested to be put on facilitation, communication and coaching courses and even though we had no idea at the time that we would eventually leave, this was an asset to them and to us to invest in us (and that’s how we pitched it!).
We also both read books on self development, went to multi-day immersion courses that dove deep into our self-limiting beliefs and actually took action on the things we were learning. The Connect With Anyone course was one of those key turning points, as was making the decision to fly halfway around the world (while leaving little kids and partners at home) to attend World Domination Summit! These experiences were all part of transforming ourselves, and it certainly showed when we returned to our day jobs. We were more positive, more pumped up, more inspired, more real, and more willing to step up and be seen.
8. Get outside your comfort zone
We’ve all heard how important it is to get outside of your comfort zone. But often we do this outside of our workplaces for fear of being judged. But most of the above actions require you to start to be seen differently at work and this will likely make you feel a little (or a lot!) uncomfortable! For example: sending “scary” emails, having different conversations, saying yes to opportunities, choosing different reactions to things that p*ss you off, offering solutions and being responsible for them, and the list goes on.
“Back in 2012, after being a police officer for more than 12 years, I was feeling completely dead inside. I came across this quote that said that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. I thought, well if I want to feel alive again, the fast way to do that is to get out of my comfort zone. So I decided to say yes to every opportunity that came my way for an entire year. It was that same year that we decided to travel half way around the world to attend our very first World Domination Summit. That year, I said yes to being filmed for policing demonstration videos, taking part in world record attempts, crazy challenges, signing up for CWA, and attending ad hoc and planned meet-ups in Sydney and beyond. That year, I’d never felt more alive. All because I decided to show up and get uncomfortable.” –Naz
Always leave a party when you’re still having fun…
So you might still be wondering, why did you both end up leaving your day jobs if you had started the transition within and were actually enjoying your roles more than ever?
It’s a fair question. But as Naz’s boss often said to her: “Always leave a party when you’re still having fun.”
For both of us, at the end of the day the wheels of bureaucracy where turning far too slowly for the changes we each wanted to make in the world and in our own lives, and we just weren’t prepared to wait it out. We had living to do! So we made the scary decision to leave when things were actually going quite well for each of us. And it’s a headspace we highly recommend you too seek to achieve before making any big leaps or changes.
Because if you can leave on a high, then there is no post-quitting recovery or cleansing to do. There are no scars, no feelings of resentment, no anger, no bitterness. Just gratitude for all that you achieved and all that your day job contributed to your personal journey.
And as Marianne Williamson said, “As you let your own light shine you unconsciously give others permission to do the same.” So don’t wait for the perfect conditions to let your unique light shine into the world. Start to look at your day job through a new lens. What do you see?
We’d love to hear in the comments!
–Leah & Naz 🙂
P.S. This month we will be opening the doors to the How to Connect With Anyone course again! Make sure you join our waitlist to be the first to find out when the doors officially open.