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When Your Heart’s Not In It

We have received feedback that not all of you are finding the time to read the Pivot each week. 🙁

Our goal is to provide you with information you can put to practical use, which obviously you can't do if you are finding it too tough to fit us in! So, as an experiment, we're going to condense our Pivots for a trial period. We'll move more towards the key points in the Pivot itself, and leave you to go further (if you wish to) by reading the links. That way you can read as much as you feel is helpful. 

Let's see how well this works! Please don't hesitate to give us your thoughts.

(We'll attach this note to the next few Pivots)


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This Pivot: Where do we start when we're not feeling passionate about our work anymore?

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“I’ve been a manager too long and I feel bored, tired, jaded and in need of a change”.

“I didn’t sign-up to early childhood to be a manager. My great love is children and teaching - managing is just not my thing”.

“I don’t like my boss, centre, staff, families, commute, salary, work, hours, [insert one]”.

“This just hasn’t turned out to be the dream job I hoped for”.


Whatever the reason, if we’re no longer energised by our work it’s not much consolation to hear how everyone goes through periods like that.

It’s even more disheartening to read (and hear) the ageless advice that the only way to be truly happy at work is to follow our passion - that it’s only by doing work we love that we can get long-lasting enjoyment out of our job.

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. – Marc Anthony

But, we thought we were already doing that!

Did we get it wrong? Is our passion actually somewhere else?

‘Do What You Love’

There are three problems with the 'do what you love' advice:

  • Nobody loves just one thing. We’re all complex and complicated individuals with many facets and layers to our personality. We like lots of things: which ones do we look for in a job? Or should we hunt for a job that’ll let us to do all the things we like doing? And just because we are drawn to something now, will we still like it in the future (don’t all little boys want to be firemen?)?
  • Real jobs don’t let us do only one thing anyway. Is it realistic to expect to work at only the things we like, and nothing else? To not have to deal with other people, money or tedious routine tasks?
  • Doing only one thing will still become boring. Humans aren’t set up to do just one thing over and over. Can we imagine doing the same thing every day without getting bored, even if we love doing it? What about our other interests?

As ideal as it sounds, expecting to find a vocation where we only do what we love is unrealistic.

Staying Put

Of course there are times when the right choice is to move on; the future of our centre is uncertain, the hours conflict with our family responsibilities, we just can’t make ends meet on the income, or the move is a significant advancement in our career. There are plenty of valid external reasons for making a change – fair enough.

But that’s not the case when we contemplate moving on because we’re bored or no longer engaged. Those reasons are internal.

Which begs the question, is it really our work, or is it us?

After all, we took our position in the first place and must have had some reason for doing so. We have a lot of knowledge about our centre and a lot to offer. If we change centres, that will be lost. Is there any guarantee that our next position will work out any better?

Perhaps we should relook at where we are now. Is there a way to re-build our connection with our centre?

Focus on our own performance

An interesting thing about being told to ‘follow our passion’ - it infers that if we follow our passion, we’ll be happy, and that in turn will keep us practicing until we are good at what we do.

Passion --> Happiness --> Ability

Many professional sports coaches and researchers have found the opposite to be their experience. People who succeed relentlessly practice their ability, and then happiness and passion follow.

Ability --> Happiness --> Passion

Follow your passion is conventional wisdom – and as we saw last week, conventional wisdom is not always right.

If we’ve fallen out of love with our job (and we’re honest with our self) it’s likely we aren’t focused on being the best manager we can be. We’re letting our ‘ability’ slip. That could be lowering our happiness, which in turn could be reducing our passion (not to mention multiplying our troubles as our underperformance affects our centre, our staff and our families).

Even more concerning, not doing our best becomes tolerable, and that can flow into other areas of our life.

The way we do anything is the way we do everything. – Martha Beck

It’s a slippery slope…

Before we look for greener pastures, why not focus on our own performance first – hard as that may be?

We could set challenging goals for our self, try something new or perhaps learn a new skill.

We’ll get better at what we do, the centre will keep our experience and expertise, and we may just become more engaged as a bonus!

Humans are designed to work. It’s an important part of our nature. It’s not something to be avoided – rather, it should be welcomed and enjoyed.

Even if it’s not perfect.

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