On fire for your work lately?

Casey Onder, PhD
3 min readFeb 13


Hopefully, you don’t want to pull a Milton. Photo by Nijwam Swargiary on Unsplash

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you might be wondering… What would feeling passionate about my work look like?

How about…

  • Jumping out of bed to start (not with stress, but with positive anticipation or excitement)
  • Looking at your calendar thinking something along the lines of: Yassss. Hurrah!!! I get to do this??? Heck yes :) I’m so lucky. I’m so excited!!! How wonderful… :)

Like any kind of fire, passion can be fickle. One day you’ve got it, the next day you don’t. That said, everyone deserves to feel passionate about their work at least 50% of the time — and certainly on the whole.

If you’re feeling passionate about your workdays less often than you’d like, good news: You’ve got it in you. As with fire or any relationship, it needs cultivated.

Practicing Passion

For starters:

  1. Pay close attention to what energizes versus drains you. Try rating current responsibilities on a scale of 0–10 if it helps. Do energizing things as much as possible, delegate draining ones. Sound too good to be true? Consider that you’ll get better at what you want if you spend more time on it. Practice self-trust (5, 10% more), stop trying to excel at everything and focus to your energetic advantage (so also said Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs).
  2. Associate with passionate people. Social learning is powerful. While we don’t and shouldn’t automatically mimic others a la social learning theory, spending time with passionate people and/or their work can open your mind to new possibilities. A simpler way of saying this is to find your tribe or broaden it.
  3. Practice gratitude for past and future. Every workday, reflect on what you’re looking forward to and grateful for. Enjoy past and future memories of excitement and gratitude. Yes, you can be grateful for something that hasn’t happened (yet), just ask Rufio’s groupies. There is plenty of research in psychology on the benefits of gratitude, and mindset magic workers love it.

Stoke your fires with determination and tenacity.

Make passion a habit.

Passion And Burnout

Oftentimes passion dwindles because we give so much to our work, not because we don’t love it. In so doing we overextend or neglect ourselves, unmet physical, emotional and social needs metastasizing into silent mojo killers and worse, with a UC Berkeley study estimating mental health issues of entrepreneurs at a rate of 72%.

If you’re not sure what you need or struggle to articulate it, exploring this with the support of a trained professional (like a therapist or a coach experienced with burnout) is a great start.

You can also try the following:

  1. Go offline certain days and hours. Laptop/cell phone off, get real risqué. Avoid the temptation to cross your own boundaries. Be firm with yourself.
  2. Celebrate (more). Celebrate wins no one knows about! Celebrate others! Take time for rewards and receiving if you’re used to pouring out (the more uncomfortable this is, the more important it may be for you).
  3. Enhance QT (quality time) with you. Move your body: Walk on lunch break, do a plank or burpee, nail some dance moves. Try breath work: Many breath work exercises are calming and breath work can also be stimulating, depending on your needs. Do things that are healthy (at least, definitely not unhealthy) and make you feel good/better.

Bottom Line

You deserve to feel passionate about what you do — until you straight up fall in love with it (or have rekindled your fire in some cases).

Simple tweaks spark. Stoked with strategy and strategic accountability, your fires will be ablaze.

Start now. It’s easy, tiger.

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Casey Onder, PhD

Psychologist, success coach, believer in solid behavioral science and the power of tuning in.