Contrary to Popular Belief, Passion May Not Equal a Career

By Amanda Hill
Blog Content Contributor

“Basing your career off of your early passions can potentially become as risky as letting your five-year-old self choose your profession.” – Kristin Franks

I have come across many articles that promise passion is the key to finding fulfillment in your career. Many of us believe there is no other way establish our career objectives. What if this perspective is blinding us from exploring other opportunities that could leave us feeling more fulfilled? The truth is, our interests and hobbies change over time, but our skills will continuously develop throughout our lives.

Benjamin Todd, the founder of 80,000 hours, recommends “ditch ‘follow your passion’ in favor of ‘do what’s valuable.’” Being passionate about sports, or a particular sport such as soccer, doesn’t mean your calling is to be a professional athlete. What is it that you like about soccer? The adrenaline from making a goal? The feeling of power while running up and down the field? The appreciation of team work by keeping the ball from your opponents? Use the answers of these questions to guide your career path. Maybe you are meant to be an entrepreneur because you yearn the feeling of power. Or maybe a consultant because you enjoy the fulfillment of devising an effective strategy.

Photo by Victor Hugo Abel Miranda Soza via Flickr.
What you’re passionate about may not fir your career goals. Photo by Victor Hugo Abel Miranda Soza via Flickr.

Have you ever considered if it is even possible to identify what it is that truly inspires us? The pressure of establishing a career from our passion can cause apprehension from feeling what we do for a living isn’t fulfilling the purpose of our lives. It is crucial to take the time and clearly define your career goals.

Dave Evans, professor of “Designing Your Life” at Standford University, recognizes that many of us have difficulty articulating our passion. He counters the idea of first identifying our passion to guide the choices we make throughout life and states.

Evans said that “it’s much better to have an accurate awareness that you don’t know your passion than to have an erroneous confidence in a false passion.”

The excitement that is associated with pursuing your passion can be inhibited with the pressures of the work force. It could be our passions are meant to be pursued without having to meet deadlines and impress your boss. This can cause burnout and leave us discouraged from exploiting our passions at all. The pressure of making profit can drive us away from our passion by losing confidence that what we do is worthy of outside appraisal.

Try identifying specific aspects you believe will be important to you in a career. These can include frequent travel, open work environment or growth opportunities within the company. Discovering the values associated with your passion will start you off in the right direction.

Ask your friends and family what talents they notice about you. Obtaining outside perspective can instill confidence for you in pursuing the direction for your career.

Don’t push yourself to “do what you love”, instead try “learning to love what you do.” Correlating your goals and values with your career objectives will allow you to develop your talents effectively.

Holly Henrichsen

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