If you are into personal or career development, it’s practically impossible to miss all the articles, books and lectures focused on ‘finding your passion.’ If you just find your passion and follow it to the ends of the earth, happiness and/or success will follow. But maybe that isn’t always the case…
It has been quite difficult for me to write this post. I have gone back and forth on how I really feel about this whole concept of passion. I think passion can get a bad rap. After all, not all of us are passionate about the work we do, and not all of us get to follow our passion. Heck, we are lucky if we get to ‘follow’ something we are mildly interested in as a career. And I don’t think our society should make people feel as if they need to be discovering and following one specific thing – to all ends. Someone has to be the sanitation worker or the school cook. Someone flips burgers for a living. And should they be encouraged to strive for more? If that’s what they want, sure. But no one should be looked down on for choosing a path which may not be considered their most passionate, or which isn’t their ‘calling.’“What is that foreign concept you speak of? Passion – is that really a thing?” Rory Gilmore Click To Tweet
I believe there is a difference between having one ‘passion’ and being a passionate person. I choose to focus on the later of the two.
There are certainly people out there who have one passion that drives their lives. Think Beethoven, Stephen Hawking, Lindsey Vonn… Those people who are driven by one sole career, one area of pursuit, one skill which they have mastered like no other. But then there’s the rest of us. I certainly could have made art a career if I chose to focus on it for years on end, but I wasn’t that passionate about it. I loved art in high school (and still do!) but I knew I was not dedicated enough for it to sustain me my entire life. That doesn’t make me less motivated or less ambitious. I have many interests, and I knew that I would regret putting 110% of my effort into that one thing for my whole life – even at the age of 18 when I decided not to pursue art as my career. I enjoyed it, yes. But was I truly passionate about it? No.
There are a few career experts out there who now talk about how a person can have many different professional and life experiences that blend together into a new career or hobby. In the book, The Art of Work, Jeff Goins talks about finding your calling. And while many might find this akin to searching for your passion, many examples given in the book point to the fact that a person may have many seemingly divergent interests or experiences which come together to put them on a path toward a unique career, tailored to them. I recommend reading this book to find those connecting threads that may make up a new career path for you.
And there are many people who certainly choose to live a life full of passion, no matter what they do. They show a level of dedication to anything they do, even if it is not their ideal career. This is a great way to approach life in general. Circumstances can make pursuing one passion difficult, but we can all approach whatever is handed to us with a level of dedication and hard work which puts us ahead of most people, who simply wander through life. Many passion advocates will even tell you that if you devote yourself to something and put your heart into it, the passion will follow. This isn’t to say there won’t be times you choose to throw in the towel and move on to something more suited to you. But you can make the most of any career situation you currently find yourself in.
Was there a time you chose not to follow a passion? What about when you did? I’d love to hear about it in the comment below. And be sure to catch the first two posts in this series, Discovering Who You Used to Be and How to Gain Greater Self-Awareness in Your Career Search.
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