If you read any articles about making a big career change, or trying to be happier with your work life, they will likely talk about “finding your passion.” Integrate your passion into your work life. Find a job that focusses on your passion. Think of ways you can turn your passion into a career.
Great, but… what if we don’t know what our passion is? That might sound crazy. How do you not know what you yourself are passionate about? But there are a few things about the way we define passions that can make them difficult to identify.
Issue #1: Passion —-> Career (so get serious)
Part of the impetus behind the self-styled life is a reaction against people in my generation being totally career-focussed. I don’t think we’re all built like that.
But the whole passion discussion is really couched in those career terms, and as a result it puts a lot of pressure on any effort to “discover your passion.” When you’re trying to draw a line from a passion to a career, it might happen that your true passions just don’t seem important enough. We eliminate something before we’ve even dug into the idea because it seems too frivolous or unrealistic.
Issue #2: Pick ONE (and it better be Good)
Another common experience is having difficulty committing to One Thing. I personally have a number of passions that I like, maybe even love, to do. But could I choose to do One Thing for my whole life? That expectation is echoed in our education system, our pop culture and the American Dream, even if it might not play out in reality.
Issue #3: Career Happiness = Life Happiness
We have this assumption that you HAVE to be passionate about your work. While I do believe this is important for many people (myself included), there are others out there who seem to be content having “just a job” that allows them to explore passions out of work. But when you feel that your career should be about your passions and thus reflective of who you are, part of the Pick ONE pressure is about having a need to define your self through your work. It’s often a lot of self-judgement, but it too can be crippling and a real road block to identifying your passions.
While the simple passion–>career approach works for some, I think others would benefit from a new format for this discussion, the way I believe that if I’d learned math in a completely different way (like the way this guy sees it), I wouldn’t suck at it. It’s about allowing ourselves to perceive things a little differently:
Overall, I don’t have a quick answer for this one, though I suppose one logical starting point is to consider the inverse of the complaints I made above:
Any other thoughts? How have you found your passions and integrated them into your work life? Or are you happy to just have a job and explore the passions outside of work?