Stop Asking Yourself “What’s My Passion?” and Start Asking This Instead
Whenever your career gets into troubled waters, someone always comes up with a gem of an advice.
“Try to find your passion and convert it into your career” as if it will help you resolve all of your problems within the blink of an eye.
But everyone in the world is doing exactly the same.
Every other person nowadays seems to be obsessed with figuring out what his passion is.
People often encourage others, especially young job seekers, to simply find their passion and follow it.
You might even say, “I already know what my passion is.
It is not going to be a problem at all” in response to these “wise” suggestions.
Very few people understand that their job will only be enjoyable if it is also valuable and meaningful. It is the work you love to do but it is necessarily not your passion.
FEWER PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR THEIR PASSION THAN EVER
Many people are completely at sixes and sevens about what to do when they set on a fruitless journey to find their passion.
Therefore, the number of people looking to pursue their passion is decreasing by every passing day. It isn’t that you should not find a job you are most passionate about.
The problem occurs when you take the notion of finding passion as a career advice.
It usually exudes a sense of superiority over others and you end up ignoring core aspects of your profession and job.
More and more people are getting sick of asking themselves the question, “What is my passion.”
This particular question is so big that it is creating hurdles for professionals of all ages and experience to focus on their real job as if it is paralyzing their brains and bodies.
It is too expansive that most people fail miserably to determine what their passion is which creates even more problems for them in the long run.
What if you are really struggling with your career?
You have no idea what course of action to take other than looking for that elusive passion you may never find.
Still, millions of people around the world yearn for a career which fulfills some of their desires and wishes related to their work.
After all, less than 33% of Americans are actively engaged with their jobs.
Therefore, it is not surprising that most of them long for something new for a change.
Various top-notch recruiters and hiring experts have pondered over this issue for years and have developed some questions which are easier to answer but more helpful than asking what my passion is.
You can actually have a more fulfilling career by answering these questions instead of indulging in a wild goose chase.
They enable you to think more concretely and purposefully about your interests, motivations, career objectives, skills, needs and what you are actually willing to achieve or give up.
They will help you seize the opportunity you are looking for as soon as it comes your way.
If your quest to find your passion is not helping you get anywhere, the following are some alternative questions you can ask yourself.
IS FINDING PASSION REALLY THAT IMPORTANT?
“Why do I bother to find my passion” is the first question you need to ask yourself.
The majority of people want to find their passion simply because a career counselor has suggested them or their colleagues have already taken the same trodden path.
The idea has become so ubiquitous that anyone who is not trying to find his passion or doing what he loves to do is considered as a failure.
It is your motivations and desires which normally shape your actions.
It sounds simple in the beginning, but when you go down to the bottom of your motivations, you start realizing that it is not as easy you originally thought.
It dawns on you that finding passion is a futile activity and in most cases, it is not necessary at all.
On most occasions, people have no idea why they are trying to find their passion.
You can adopt different approaches to determine what drives you to discover your passion.
One such approach is asking “Why?” five times a day.
With the passage of time, you will realize that you only want to find your passion to compete with your colleagues rather than having a more satisfied and rewarding career.
Or, you are in a wrong career or job altogether.
You just want to switch because of the poor working environment, low salary or a bad manager.
HOW WORK FITS IN THE TYPE OF LIFESTYLE YOU WANT TO ENJOY
You may think you have failed in life just because you couldn’t find the job that corresponds to your passion.
In reality, you have failed because you have never tried to get fulfillment from things that run your house and pay the bills.
In simple words, your passion or work has taken over anything else in your life. It is no longer just a mean to earn a reasonable livelihood.
You may be giving more value to your work than your family, relatives, and friends. You are actually practicing the ages’ old formula of living to work instead of working to live.
Again, it is perfectly alright if you don’t believe in this approach.
However, there is only a small continuum between hating your job and loving your job.
You go slightly beyond that continuum and things start to go from bad to worse. You can make your job even more laborious or a medium of achieving fulfillment and identifying yourself by moving towards the positive end of this continuum.
Where you are on this continuum determines whether you have achieved work-life balance or totally integrated work in your life (work-life integration).
Therefore, the first question you have to ask yourself is how your work will fit in the kind of lifestyle you want to enjoy.
Subsequently, you can adjust or totally change your needs and expectations regarding your career.
The fact is that you can get maximum fulfillment from the job you are currently doing.
Being unable to find your passion is not your failure by any stretch of the imagination.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES EXCITE YOU?
Most often, your passion is analogous to the things you love or take interest in.
Sometimes, we can flail when we correlate our passion with the things we enjoy.
It is always valuable to keep an open mind and incorporate as many of our interests in our career as possible.
However, it is even better to identify things we need right now in our life and career.
There may be hundreds of opportunities out there, but you may have no idea of them.
Even if you manage to recognize some of those opportunities, you may not have the necessary skills and experience required for them.
As a result, you will find it very difficult to pursue your passion. It is also impossible for you to include all of your interests in your work and life.
For instance, you might love drawing and want to work with special children at the same time.
But what do you want to draw and how you intend to work with special children? Think about it.
The best course of action for you is to make a list of your interests and jobs you would love to do.
Once you have collected data about 50 jobs, take a look at them even more closely and identify what all of them have in common.
You have to figure out things that you are most drawn to and why.
Do those things align perfectly with your current job or interest or require you to find a new one? What skills and experiences you must possess to have that job? Are you willing to relocate?
You can keep your interests to the minimum by asking these questions in addition to having a clear picture of what you intend to do in near future.
SHOULD YOU STOP PURSUING YOUR PASSION?
Some experts even advise you to stop finding or following your passion.
It will help you conserve a lot of energy and time which you can spend on improving your performance in your current field or career.
Carl Newport, author of the famous book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, says that you should strive hard to develop your skills instead of finding your passion if you want to be happy in your current job.
Employees start considering their work more satisfying and meaningful if they spend more time on a job.
It means you enjoy a certain job or role if you have more experienced and skills related to it.
Therefore, you should start focusing on excelling in your current job instead of wasting your time on finding your passion.
If you are exceptionally good at your job, you will ultimately derive enjoyment from it.
The better you are at something, the more you are going to enjoy it.
SHOULD YOU EXCEL IN A SINGLE FIELD?
There are three paths to become successful.
The first one is to spend years and years on finding your passion.
However, your passion may or may not lead you to the success you dream of.
The second path is to excel in a single field. It is incredibly difficult to be successful by following this path.
The last and the most conducive path is to try to be good in two to three things.
This strategy is incredibly easy because you can get into the top 25% of people in two to three areas you enjoy by putting only a little bit of effort.
Take Tim Ferriss for an example. Tim was a successful HR manager who made an unconventional switch from finance to HR.
Now he is extremely good in two completely different things that are writing and entrepreneurship.
He has invested in many startups, most of which are running successfully. He has become an increasingly successful influencer by combining two different skills.
He is also an exceptional interviewer which is simply an icing on the cake. He broadcasts one of the highest rated podcasts on the internet.
He has actually become too good in three different fields which is obviously better than mastering one or two skills.
In the case of Tim Ferriss, the combination of quantitative skills he acquired while working in the finance industry and the soft skills he developed during his HR career helped him attain unprecedented success.
He argues that he has become a more competitive HR manager by bringing his knowledge of numbers to the field which mostly relies on soft skills such as communication.
What sets him apart from his peers is the unique combination of skills he possesses.
The bottom line is that Tim focused on honing skills in multiple fields which gave him an upper hand over his competitors and peers. Had he wasted a lot of time on finding his passion, he would still have been keeping books in some unknown company.
Developing multiple areas of expertise is much better than developing a single passion.
Even if you do not love the work you are doing, you can develop a unique competitive advantage over others in the long run.
SHOULD YOU PREFER A COMPANY OVER A JOB ROLE?
We tend to focus on our passion or things we love while choosing a career path.
You ask questions like whether you should join marketing, accounting, HR or select a totally different career path for yourself.
You can take the opposite approach if it is becoming increasingly difficult for you to decide what you want to become. You will not always get the kind of work you are looking for.
Therefore, you should focus on finding the kind of company you want to join.
Like it or not, it is the success of your company, not your passion that guarantees success in your own career.
No matter how good a worker you are, you will get little to no credit if you are a part of an unsuccessful company.
On the other hand, you will get a lot of credit if you are working for a successful organization even if you deserve it or not.
HR managers do not care about your passion.
What they consider are your skills in a particular field and how successful the company you have been part of is.
The Halo Effect also comes into play when you have been working for a high profile company for a long time. This is not fair to other candidates, but this is the fact you have to recognize.
Many recruiters also include candidates’ previous companies as one of the reasons why they hired them.
Preferring a company over your passion or favorite job function is not very common, but you must at least give it a try in order to get maximum career satisfaction.
It is also true that you may not be happy with your work regardless of how successful your organization is.
In this particular scenario, the best course of action is to network and get transferred to another department or team.
There will always be new opportunities to seize in big and successful companies.
You can present yourself as an ideal candidate when they are looking for someone for a new position as well, even if you have no experience in that area.
You can read this article to learn what to do if you ever find yourself in this situation.
WHAT YOU ARE WILLING TO GIVE UP?
It will be difficult for you to pursue your passion even if you find it.
Therefore, you need to consider what you are willing to give up if you want to switch your job or find the one you are most passionate about.
You have to adopt a give and take approach here, especially if you are in the later stages of your career. I
n this particular case, some of the things you may have to consider include the pay cut, relocation or relegation among others to get your dream job.
In fact, switching careers or changing jobs is never easy.
There are many tradeoffs you have to consider whenever you face this satiation.
Asking the question, “What I am willing to give up?” is a useful way to analyze all these tradeoffs and subsequently decide against or in favor of taking them.
The two most common things you have to compromise on are the leisure time and pay.
However, there are many other tradeoffs which get the least amount of attention and consideration.
These tradeoffs include better use of skills, better working environment, better office location, better commute, better medical coverage, and better gratuity etc.
You must also consider factors which made your previous job great or worse.
Similarly, you also have to identify all aspects of your personal and professional life you want to improve by switching a career or job.
Your mind will be clearer than ever if you can manage to differentiate between nice and unnecessary items and absolutely non-negotiable ones. Furthermore, honesty is always the best policy and same is the case here. Never ignore the importance of apparently frivolous things. For instance, even half an hour off on your commute can make a big difference to your job engagement in the long run. If you like to travel less, you must not let this opportunity pass.
HOW YOU CAN GET REALLY GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO?
According to some experts such as Cal Newport, skills always triumph your passion.
He further argues that fulfillment and success in your job have nothing to do with your passion.
They are all about the skills you develop, the experiences you gain and most importantly, the quality of the work you do.
There are three main reasons you can benefit a lot from actually practicing your skills instead of living in the world of ideas and subjects that you find exciting.
First of all, it allows you to get mastery over your craft. Mastering the skills required for a job is one of the fundamental factors which make you happy at work.
Secondly, you can put your work in the right context. You contribute to a greater cause no matter it is commercial or charitable.
Thirdly, you can considerably improve your performance at work by actually doing what you must do on a daily basis instead of what you love to do.
You acquire new skills and hone you already have.
It takes time and experimentation to discover the work you need to do and the relevant skills you have to develop.
But it is the better and more practical method of determining what you ultimately want to get from your job.
WHAT DOES YOUR IDEAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
Different people have a different idea of a perfect day.
For some, the perfect day starts with a coffee in the bed early in the morning. Some of you like to have flexible working hours.
Then there are people who love to walk to the office.
There are many who go to the gym or meet their girlfriends between the meetings and during office breaks.
Some of you have dinner with your family every day. In short, your definition of a perfect day (whatever it is) must also become your next career goal.
Although, it sounds strange yet it is a more tangible goal than vague and lofty job titles you keep dreaming about.
You must perform your work honestly, but how you do that work is equally important.
Many other things such as if you like to work independently or collaboratively, how do you want to spend your time in the office and how you like your superiors to reward you also count.
A large number of people simply ignore how they will spend most of their time while choosing a career or job.
The only things they consider are how they are going to make a difference (they are too passionate in the beginning), the remuneration package and possible growth opportunities.
They mainly focus on the big picture ignoring little details altogether.
However, if you start hating every second of your life due to your job, there is no way you are going to focus on the big picture.
HOW YOU CAN HELP OTHERS?
Sometimes, it is better to figure out how you can help others instead of thinking about how you can help yourself. You can only do a small number of things in your life at a time.
When it comes to a greater cause, there are even fewer things you can do.
Therefore, you can find a cure for your misery by focusing more on finding the best ways of serving others rather than the things you desire such as your passion.
You will eventually find your passion and a fulfilling job if you get good at genuinely helping those in need.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU DISLIKE?
Having full knowledge of things you dislike is as good as knowing things you like.
This is especially helpful if you cannot decide what you like, but you are adept in instantly recognizing things which you hate from the core of your heart.
Perhaps, you can make a list of all the things you do not want to happen in your life.
This way, you will be able to focus on your strengths only and ultimately find what you have been wanting for years.
It is also not recommended to go through all the jobs you can think of and decide which one of them you like and which one of them you don’t.
As a matter of fact, you cannot even scratch the surface irrespective of how hard you try, let alone exploring all of them.
Just focus on the values you believe in and the ones you denounce. You can, in fact, follow many different tips on how you can accomplish this task.
Remember that some of the jobs or positions will definitely align with your values and some will not.
Select the one which resonates perfectly with your values and starts pursuing it at the earliest.
WHAT YOU ULTIMATELY WANT FROM YOUR JOB?
Millions of people around the world have a fear of missing out commonly referred to as FOMO.
They keep on chasing their passion with no avail. Instead of having this approach in your life, you need to concentrate on your work until you find your real focus.
Strive hard to get to the point in your life from where you can set on a journey towards something better, something much more rewarding and fulfilling than you currently have.
Against common perception, it does not have to be your passion.
It does not have to be something you want to accomplish in your life either.
Similarly, it should not be anything you want to achieve in your career.
You will only grow in your life and career if you focus on things that allow you to have a feeling of growth.
You are never going to grow if you are in a line of work you resent.
It will not allow you to go well beyond the line of duty and learn new skills and experiences.
You can enjoy better life only if you get rid of the work you don’t like.
WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PASSION?
The time has come you should stop worrying about your passion.
If you are fortunate enough to be in a job which enables you to pursue some of your interests passionately, you are doing better than millions of others.
There is also nothing to worry or beat about if you don’t have such a job.
You can still have a job or career where you can do things you enjoy. You necessarily do not love them, but at least you can like them.
Your career does not have to be your passion.
There are other things you must consider such as your interests, personality types, and values to ensure you choose the most suitable profession for yourself.
You must also have some sort of natural ability, talent or aptitude for the job you want to do.
It is vital to get proper training both in the classroom and on-the-job as well.
Your chances of having a successful career will increase manifold if you develop some specific soft skills.
You are born with some of these skills while you have to acquire some others.
Finally, even if you manage to find a job which meets most of your requirements with or without finding your passion, you will not be able to enjoy your work if you do not like your routine activities.
You will only be disappointed if you want each and every task to be enjoyable. Ugly or hateful tasks are a part and parcel of every job and profession.
However, chances are you are going to enjoy most of the tasks and have career satisfaction as well. In simple words, career satisfaction is not all about finding passion.
There is more to it than meets the eyes.
You should definitely pursue your passion if you have found it.
However, if you are as sure about what your passion is as thousands of other people, you must try something different.
Being unable to find your passion does not mean you cannot have a satisfactory job.
You can still find the work you are most enthusiastic about. It is not important to be passionate about your work.
What is more important is whether you enjoy your work or not.
It is absolutely imperative because you spend such a huge amount of time on your work.
All jobs and professions are meaningful in their own way.
What is enjoyable for you might be disgusting and terrible for someone else.
Therefore, your search for passion should not prevent you from relishing your current job.
In fact, your passion and the type of job do not matter at all.
What matters is that you should be able to enjoy your work.
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