Back in January at CodeMash, Joe O’Brien mentioned that it’s a great thing when you find something you’re passionate about and can run with it.  Someone in the audience asked what happens when you lose your passion.  That question really rang through my head, and I knew that I would eventually write the blog post to tackle it, when I felt the timing was right.  Now is that time.

Finding Something You’re Passionate About

When I was growing up, I found that I was passionate about two areas in particular – music and programming.  While I loved playing music and enjoyed music theory, I knew though that programming came easier to me and would probably be the passion that would win out.  It all started with BASIC on an Apple IIE.  From there, I was hooked – I really liked being able to give a computer commands and then get a response back.  The excitement I feel when I’m working on a program though is only a small part of my passion for programming.  The other thing that tipped me off that it’s something I’m passionate about and not just a job for me is the fact that I can explain what I do in simple terms.  My parents aren’t technically inclined, but I can tell them what I do in non-technical terms and they understand what I do.  I can take the technology I love and make it seem fun and exciting and cool and not-so-scary to those who are technologically-afraid.

I’m also lucky enough to be married to a guy who’s passionate about technology.  But he’s more passionate about the servers, the hardware, the IT side of it all.  He’s been tinkering with computers at least since his childhood – be it working on websites for a local Internet company or fixing others’ computers or troubleshooting random computer problems.  He’s awesome at what he does, and I love coming home to hear that he’s learned how to work with this new technology or learned this new way of doing things.  It’s great to have that excitement and passion, as it makes our jobs a lot easier.

Losing Your Passion

It happens to all of us, so if you’ve had this happen, know that you aren’t alone.  Whether it’s a job that isn’t providing growth opportunities (and you don’t have enough resources on your own to create those opportunities) or something else, it’s possible to feel as if you’ve lost your passion.   It’s hard when you know you have so much potential and want to learn so much but can’t explore the things you’re passionate about because you’ve hit a funk.  

You may even go through a period where you deny the very thing that you’re passionate about – I went through that phase.  Shortly after I had started speaking in the community, I had run into a situation that had me second guessing myself.  Rather than going straight into the development world, I backed out of the dev realm and went into tech support and then into IT.  But the more I tried denying my dev side, the more depressed I felt in my job.  It took a dead end job with no room for growth – after being there long enough, I realized that it wasn’t going to make me happy and that I needed to be in a job that would make me happy.  I needed to return to development.  Yes, it’s possible for the passion to settle down and for you to even deny it.  But if it’s meant to be, it’ll be back.

Reigniting Your Passion

Returning to development was the best move I had made in a long time.  I had the challenges I yearned for, and I had a wide open road ahead of me, with plenty of technologies to learn.  I met my friend Russ, who got me into going into one of the .NET user groups here.  By meeting people just as passionate about technology as me, it started drawing that passion back out.  Once that started coming out, this blog came to be.  I eventually got into speaking and event organizing, and the rest… well yeah, you see how that’s turning out!

What I’m saying here, though, is that it’s possible to lose your passion for something and fall into a funk.  But don’t lose hope when you get in that funk.  There are ways to get out of that funk.

– Find out what’s causing the funk.  

  • Did something change with the thing you were passionate about?  
  • Did something change with you to change your feelings?

– Once you find out what’s causing the funk, find out what it takes to get out of the funk.  

  • If something changed with the thing you were once passionate about, re-evaluate it and see if it’s really worth giving up.  If so, find another passion!  Life is too short to live in a haze of reality with a lack of passion.
  • If something changed with you, see if it’s something that can get sorted out on its own or if it’s something that you could talk with others about on how to get it back.
  • If you know of an idea that could help you get out of the funk but can’t do it alone, then recruit others to help you out!
Finally, if you had something you were passionate about but just can’t break the funk, read through The Passionate Programmer and hopefully it will help reignite the passion you may have thought you lost.