The summer has come and gone.
2021 is flying by, even though it seems like the year had just begun. As the world is still uncertain on virtually every topic you could think of, I find myself clinging to the things I still love to do.
One of those things is my career as a police officer, despite the challenges the profession faces. I have found that being passionate about my career has helped me redouble my efforts to being the best I can be at it.
I have seen others lose that passion and leave the field altogether. Seeing this happen at multiple police departments across the U.S made me ask myself a question: How many of us are working at a job where we have grown passionless? Any job, any career, any profession — how many of us have stopped caring?
I’ve heard many different reasons for this conveyed in a way where it is completely emotion based. I’m sure you’ve heard the same things too.
“I’m just not happy anymore.”
“It doesn’t challenge me any longer.”
“There will come a point in your career where you will ask yourself the same question — am I happy with my job?”
As I hear these sentiments, I find it heartbreaking. A person gets into a career to do something they love or to make a difference in a particular field. Hear me folks and mark my words; There will come a point in your career where you will ask yourself the same question — am I happy with my job? We’ve all been there and if you haven’t reached that point yet, trust me…you will.
As some of you shake your heads in agreement reading this, I want to ask you another question. How do we relight that spark in that passionless career? How do we get that love back for what we do?
I’ll be honest, it’s a multi-layered question that will be different for so many people. We all come from different walks of life and no two people are the same. I too, have asked myself that question and I almost quit law enforcement because of it.
Yes, as much as I have written about positivity, love, overcoming fears and doubts, I had stopped loving what I signed up to do at the end of 2011. Some of the same complaints I’ve listed here were being voiced by me at one time. Yet, here I am nearly nine years later…still doing the job.
How did I do it? I realized my issues were never about the job — my issues were with me. Let me outline three things I realized about myself and hopefully, my journey can help someone else struggling with similar questions.
First, I realized I was allowing other people to dictate what I should be feeling instead of listening to myself on the matter. Being swayed by others made me eventually conclude a lot of my sentiment wasn’t even my own. This was the first lesson I learned in regaining passion: make sure your complaints are truly your own — especially if you work with a toxic co-worker. Listening to them vent and bemoan the work can drag you into a negative headspace. This is where your positivity comes in. Distance yourself from individuals who are constantly negative and complaining. You may find yourself changing your attitude when you do.
Second, change your perspective in the job. For me, this was when I was selected to become a detective at my agency and it seriously changed my professional life. All the questions I had previously asked myself in reference to passion were answered. My love for what I did and my work ethic were rekindled by simply changing the lens with which I viewed everything. Sometimes, that’s all it takes, as it makes you answer your doubts directly.
Third, and this was the hardest lesson for me to learn, your job is not responsible for your happiness. The sooner you discover this, the faster you are able to reacquire your passion for it.
I realized that putting that kind of pressure on the job or on co-workers will always result in disappointment. Coming to work with a positive attitude and a can-do spirit was on me to do. By putting effort into being the best employee I could be, my happiness derived from the incredible results I achieved.
At the end of the day, passion and happiness are subjective, but you determine these things. You are the key to regaining your career’s passion again.
For all of those out there struggling with these questions, search inward. Start with you first, and rekindling that passion for your job will follow.
Matthew Scott ’07 ’11MS is a sergeant with the UCF Police Department. He can be reached at Matthew.Scott@ucf.edu.
The UCF Forum is a weekly series of opinion columns from faculty, staff and students who serve on a panel for a year. A new column is posted each Wednesday on UCF Today and then broadcast on WUCF-FM (89.9) between 7:50 and 8 a.m. Sunday. Columns are archived in the campus library’s STARS collection and as WUCF podcasts. Opinions expressed are those of the columnists, and are not necessarily shared by the University of Central Florida.