Follow Your Passion: Easier Said Than Done
You may have received the career advice “follow your passion” and then read somewhere else that it is bad advice. The reality is that “follow your passion” is easier said than done and it can come with many challenges. Here are some of the top challenges and advice on how you can address them, from one of our Career Coaches in Residence.
Challenge #1: I have many passions
That’s normal and alright. There is a misconception that we must all have one true calling or must have a single focus or specialty to be successful. The reality is that many of us enjoy music but also math. Others aspire to be a lawyer but also an artist.
Growing up we are often told to choose just one passion, but Emilie Wapnick, a speaker and author, normalizes and popularizes the term “multipotentialite” in one of her TED talks, Why some of us don’t have one true calling. The term is used to describe people with many interests and passions. She argues having many passions is a good thing and that people with multiple interests are often strong in idea synthesis, rapid learning and adaptability, which are all highly sought after qualities by today’s employers.
To learn more, give How to be Everything a read or listen.
Challenge #2: I don’t know what my passion is
While some of us have many passions, others struggle with finding one. For people who are still searching, it is important to keep in mind that passions can be, and are, developed and cultivated over time. Just because you did not enjoy playing the musical instrument to which you were first introduced, it does not mean music is not nor cannot be your passion.
People often limit themselves when they see passions as pre-determined or something that they need to find rather than develop over time. These individuals usually have what psychologist and researcher Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset”, where they are less likely to explore new topics or engage in opportunities that may generate new sources of passion.
Instead, Dr. Dweck encourages people to develop a growth mindset where they believe things can be learned and passions can be developed.
For those who are still looking for a passion, try to focus on developing a passion by having a growth mindset and being open-minded to learning opportunities reflective of your varied interests. Sign up for that coding class or tennis lesson you have been curious about! Instead of believing that you don’t have passions, think of it as you don’t know your passions yet. And most of all, keep working at it!
Get tips on developing a growth mindset from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
Or, watch Dr. Carol Dweck’s TED talk The Power of Believing that You Can Improve.
When it comes to career advice, it is not as simple as just following your passion because what interested you last year may no longer hold the same appeal this year. Similarly, a topic that bored you last week may become exciting tomorrow. One thing that holds is that opening yourself up to different opportunities to develop your interests is always a good investment.
In his latest book, Think Again, psychologist Adam Grant reminds us that passions are developed, not just discovered, and offers this advice: “At work and in life, the best we can do is plan for what we want to learn and contribute over the next year or two and stay open to what might come next.” In other words, don’t worry too much about following your passion and instead, have an open mind and focus on learning.
Whether you need some guidance sorting out your many passions or need help discovering one, try meeting with one of our Career Coaches in Residences to clarify your career goals.
Post written by E-Lin Chen, 2022 Career Coach in Residence.
The Career Coaches in Residence program is generously supported by RBC Foundation and with the support of several donors.