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Did you grow up being told to find your passion and pursue it? Many of us frequently heard this and other advice in the same vein, like the old adage ‘choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’. It’s an appealing idea of course, who wouldn’t want to have the career of their dreams? However, ideal as this situation sounds, we’re going to dig into why finding and pursuing your passion is a pretty flawed concept. 

Numerous studies have investigated job satisfaction and how many workers feel passionate about their work and the results can be unexpectedly negative. For instance, a recent Deloitte survey of 3,000 full-time U.S. workers, across job levels and industries, found that only 20% say they are truly passionate about their work. This paints a pretty glum picture about jobs and worker satisfaction however it may also reflect the need to change the discourse around what exactly pursuing our passion should mean.

1. Passions are varied and changeable

If you were asked “what are you passionate about?”, would you answer with just one thing? It’s unlikely. Most people have an array of interests and passions that they’re equally excited about and these areas of interest can be vastly different. Additionally, our passions can change over time. So, the idea that we need to identify our single passion and wholeheartedly pursue a career in this area can set us up for disappointment. 

Instead of thinking about having to find your passion and settling on this for your career, consider it a journey of exploring and developing your passions and skills.

2. You’re not always good at your passion

It can be hard to admit to ourselves, but we’re not always talented or skilled in areas we’re passionate in. The good news is that skills can often be improved if we’re prepared to put the work in, so there may be growth and future opportunities to be found if you wish to pursue it. However, being honest with yourself about your limitations can be liberating. For instance, you may love to play basketball but also recognise that you’re not prepared to commit to the intense training required to pursue it at an elite level. 

Tim Ferriss’ 2017 book Tribe of Mentors asks short life advice from numerous successful people, many of whom address this topic. Such as 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson who gives the advice – “Many of us have bought into the cliché ‘pursue your passion.’ For many, that is terrible advice. In your 20s, you may not really know what your best skills and opportunities are. It’s much better to pursue learning, personal discipline, and growth.” 

3. Hard work and success go hand in hand

Most people who are successful in their chosen field have worked exceptionally hard to be there. This includes the ones who pursued their passion. It’s good to keep in mind that loving your job doesn’t exclude you from bad days, failures, challenges and hard work. All jobs will have ups and downs. 

However, with a growth mindset, a great work ethic and a focus on developing your passions you should be able to regularly adapt you career to better align with your interests and values.

The Harvard Business Review have a fascinating article on this topic, which you can read here. According to HBR “Research on passion suggests that we need to understand three key things: (1) passion is not something one finds, but rather, it is something to be developed; (2) it is challenging to pursue your passion, especially as it wanes over time; and (3) passion can also lead us astray, and it is therefore important to recognize its limits.” 

It’s important to keep in mind that no job is perfect. Striving to achieve to the best of your ability in whichever role you’re in will benefit your learning and help you to create opportunities which will better enable you to create a career that aligns with your passions.