What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Passion for Your Career

We all have bad days. But when days turn into weeks turn into months, you start to wonder what to do when you’ve lost your passion for your career.

When did you lose that spark in the office? Do you remember the last time you felt excited to go to work? Does it feel like you have knots in your stomach every time Sunday night rolls around?

Before you panic that you’ll feel this way forever, it’s time to pause and self-reflect. Finding the root cause of this feeling will help determine how you move forward and regain your professional passion.

What Is Career Ambition?

When you were little and someone asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, you likely didn’t answer with an entry-level position. You probably had dreams of an exciting role like an astronaut, veterinarian, or rock star.

To get to any of these jobs, you need to start out small.

Career ambition is that dream goal you have for your professional life. It’s the moment where you feel like you’ve made it as a professional. Career ambition can come in many different forms, including:

  • A particular job (i.e. astronaut)
  • Notoriety in your profession (i.e. being known as one of the most well-regarded ornithologists)
  • A certain level of skill or education (i.e. having a PhD in history)
  • A specific achievement in your field (i.e. winning an Emmy)

These lofty goals will not be achieved in a few weeks. For some, it could take decades. But it’s a goal for you to keep in the back of your mind as you work your way up the ladder and improve your skills professionally.

Ambition vs Motivation

Remember how I said that your career ambitions can take some time to accomplish?

That means you aren’t starting off in your dream job right away. For some, it could mean doing years of work in jobs only tangentially related to your dream job. As an example, someone trying to become an award-winning actor might take a job as a production assistant to get their foot in the movie-making industry.

And this is where you can have career ambition but lack motivation.

You might have the drive to follow your dream career path. But you can absolutely feel disheartened that you aren’t doing what you want to be doing quite yet.

Someone working long hours as a PA can quickly lose steam if they aren’t taking care of themselves. They aren’t doing what they love day in and day out, and that can really wear you down.

If you find yourself stuck in a position and feel as though you’ve lost your passion, think if you’ve lost ambition or motivation. In this example, someone who’s lost motivation can feel reluctant to get to work. They feel like the hours drag on and they don’t feel particularly drawn to their job.

Someone who’s lost ambition is someone who’s seen the movie industry for what it is and no longer wants to become an actor. For some reason or another, they’ve become disillusioned with the industry and no longer have that overarching drive that transcends pushing through a crappy job.

Self motivation checklist

What to Do When You’ve Lost Passion

If you feel like you’re slogging along in a job you don’t love and it no longer serves you in your career ambition, it’s time to move on.

But if it feels temporary and you just don’t like where you are right now in the process, a tip on how to get passion back is reminding yourself of your goal. Remember what you’re pushing towards in the future. That will give you the motivation in the short-term to push through.

Burnout vs Lost Passion

If you find yourself thinking “I feel lost in my career,” it’s time to figure out why. There’s a stark difference between burnout and losing passion for something you love.

Burnout happens when you are overworked and under rejuvenated. If work consumes every waking minute, you aren’t giving yourself an opportunity to recover.

Recovery involves doing maintenance tasks your body requires (i.e. eating right (and enough) and sleeping well) and letting your mind recover (i.e. hobbies and relaxation exercises). Being a professional is difficult. It’s important that you make space to just be yourself and express who you are outside of an office.

People can absolutely experience burnout in a profession they love. If you’re wondering “why do I lack drive and ambition?” but absolutely love your job, you likely just need a break.

You don’t lack drive and ambition, you just need to recharge your energy. Make better boundaries between your work and home life and schedule in necessary self-care. Until you give yourself space to breathe, you’re just going to continue feeling burnt out.

What Energizes You at Work? What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Passion

Losing passion for something you love is heart-breaking. If we aren’t taking time to care for ourselves, even the most exciting jobs will feel draining.

Think about where your energy is going at work. Are you spending more time doing the soul-sucking stuff than the energizing stuff? If so, it’s time to bring that back into balance.

Say you run a veterinarian office, but you feel really run-down. If you’re wondering what to do when you’ve lost your passion, it’s time to remember what brought you that passion in the first place. Why did you become a veterinarian? What inspired you to open up your own practice?

If you started your own business because you wanted to help sick animals feel better, go back to helping one more patient a day. When you start your own business, it’s sometimes easy to get bogged down in the logistics and accounting of operating a business. Pull yourself away from those tasks for a little while and do what sparked your passion.

If you’ve decided that you no longer have career ambition or passion, it’s time to find a new path. Unsure of where to start? Join WBD and discover a whole new professional world as you forge your own path in the workforce.

Published in Career, Featured Articles
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Author, Artist, Photographer.

Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.

She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.

She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.