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Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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6 What most interests me?

Photo of five hands gesturing a thumbs-up, against a blue sky.
Figure 9 Interests and passions

Of course, as well as believing in the value of what we do, our career choices work best if we find the work interesting in itself. Looking afresh at your interests and passions may lead you in new work directions, or may simply highlight ways of getting more out of a career path that already suits you.

Can you envisage yourself making a living from the things that you are most passionate about in life? Obviously, being able to earn an income from your passions is not the only reason to pursue them, but in the context of this course, where we are focusing on workplace success, it makes sense to consider this aspect. As a child, did you dream of being a professional athlete or an actor but ended up confining your dream to a weekend ‘hobby’? Now is a good opportunity to dust off some of those dreams and look at them again.

The next activity asks you to think more broadly about your real passions in life, and afterwards to consider how you can bring them together with work.

First, look at the example below, which shows Sarah’s list of passions.

My interests/passions

  • Being outdoors – preferably in the sun
  • Shopping
  • Keeping fit
  • Protecting the environment
  • Helping or caring for other people
  • Writing poetry
  • Tap dancing – though I don’t do it anymore
  • History – mostly of places
  • Reading – about history mostly
  • Hill walking
  • Doing practical, hands-on things

Activity 7 My interests and passions

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

This activity will help you to remember the interests and passions that have meant or still mean the most to you, and to link them to types of work you might do.

First of all, in your notebook list the kinds of hobbies, interests, passions you have had – at any stage in your life. Note down your ideas however practical or achievable at this stage.

If you need to jog your memory you can use these questions or alternatively the A–Z list of potential passions [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

  • How do you like to spend your leisure time?
  • If you were choosing a book or magazine to read, what subjects would interest you?
  • When you were a child, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
  • What were the subjects you most enjoyed at school or college?
  • If you were part of a quiz team, what subject would your team mates rely on you for?
  • What did you do as a teenager for fun, which perhaps you no longer do?
  • If you didn’t need to earn money at all, how would you spend your time?
  • If you were given half an hour of TV time to give your views, what would you talk about?

It doesn’t matter how long your list is but if there are more than five, try to narrow them down to three or four key passions or interests, and highlight these in your notebook.

Use the following questions to help you think about which are most important to you:

  • If you were guaranteed you would not fail, which one of these would you pick for a paid occupation?
  • If you could introduce one of these into your life now, which one would make you the happiest?
  • Which one would you most regret not doing if you were coming to the end of your life?

Now, think about the kind of work these might lead you to and jot your ideas down in your notebook.


Here are some ideas Sarah had about her own passions and interests.

Table 4 Sarah’s ideas about her passions and interests
My key passions or interests Work that could incorporate these
Being outdoors/protecting the environment


Looking after public footpaths

History Volunteering/working for the National Trust or English Heritage – in the grounds or conserving buildings maybe

Buying as a job – maybe at a garden centre?

Offer to be responsible for buying the stationery supplies at work

Looking after other people

Working at a healing garden

Lead ‘walks for health’ at the weekends

You should feel excited – and perhaps a little daunted – by some of the opportunities you have identified. Some might feel out of your reach at the moment because you doubt you have the knowledge or skills. Others might appear to conflict with your lifestyle preferences, or commitments to other people. Try not to see these as negative thoughts as it really helps to be specific about potential conflicts and constraints, so that you are given the chance to find possible ways around them. This means that you can keep your options open.

You’ll get the chance in the next section to think about these potential conflicts and constraints.