How many times were you advised to “follow your passion” in the hunt for the work you love? What did you do shortly after the advice? Did you follow your passion?
No? I am not surprised.
The dogma of following your passion is terrible advice. Why, because the average person has no clue what’s their passion. So, the well-intended guidance does not grant you control; it delivers frustration.
Cal Newport asks in his eye-opening book So Good They Can't Ignore You, “If following your passion is bad advice, what should I do instead?”
Steven Kotler’s, Director of Research for the Flow Genome Project, response “What are your curiosities?” This is a healthy question because it forces you to begin cultivating your interests. It’s impossible to follow your passion when you have never explored your curiosities.
Kotler further instructs:
”The first thing you want to do is make a list of 25 things you’re curious about. And by curious, all I really mean is that if you had a spare weekend, you’d be interested in reading a couple books on the topic and maybe having a conversation or two with an expert.”
As you sift through the list of 25 things you are looking for what items overlap. When you’ve found the intersections learn all that you can from books, podcasts, videos, etc. You will know passion when you find yourself deeply in love with the work.
But Cal Newport cautions you about passion; it’s a selfish pursuit:
”First, when you focus only on what your work offers you, it makes you hyperaware of what you don’t like about it, leading to chronic unhappiness. This is especially true for entry-level positions, which, by definition, are not going to be filled with challenging projects...”
”Second, and more serious, the deep questions driving the passion mindset—“ Who am I?” and “What do I truly love?”— are essentially impossible to confirm. “Is this who I really am?” and “Do I love this?” rarely reduce to clear yes-or-no responses. In other words, the passion mindset is almost guaranteed to keep you perpetually unhappy and confused...”
In the hunt for the work you love, your passion must play a much larger role. They must be focused on a problem to solve for someone else. If you can apply your passion and help to solve for X, then what you have found is work that you love.