I’ve got good news and bad news. As a college student dedicated to finding my passion, I’ll tell you it can be very difficult to find the driving force that so many of my peers seem to have found. But here’s the good news, I think most of them are lying. I’m gonna show you how to increase your chances of finding a true passion, what passion really means, and how many students fresh out of high school are forced into making a decision they aren’t fully prepared to make.
Before we get into how you’re going to increase the chances of you finding your passion, lets first discuss the meaning of passion. Harvard Business School Professor Jon M. Jachimowicz suggests in his post, “…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.” The first part of that statement is really important. You can develop passion for something by sticking with it, gaining skill, notoriety, and connections. Frankly, that’s the only passion that persists in the professional world for most people.
As Professor Jachimowicz says, “One common misperception people have about passion is that it is fixed: you either have passion for something or you don’t.” As I understand this and from obsessively researching finding ones passion, this so called ‘passion’ is really just the combination of finding something you can be good at, that will give you the life you want, and impact the world the way you want.
The catch is, you probably won’t get all three.
Say you become a global aid worker, you spend 6 years getting a masters degree, you now travel the world, work with foreign leaders, work long hours, and save lives. In this case, you have found something you’re good at and that makes you want to work hard, you are saving the lives of the less fortunate every day which makes you feel like working the extra hours, but you don’t have much free time. If the first two parts are the most important to you, you will be happy and passionate and never look back. However, say you really value a flexible schedule and have just now figured this out. You’re not gonna find passion in this job and it will make you really unhappy.
The opposite of this is say a real estate agent. You can have flexible hours, you make your own schedule, and you make good money like the global aid worker, but you don’t have much social impact. You might feel empty and passionless in this job even if you donate to charities and volunteer your time on the weekends.
I found this great website called 80,000 Hours and they break it down as so; first, there is role impact which boils down to making meaningful change in the world; then, there is career capital and personal fit, which is basically how likely the skills you are developing will be needed in the future and how likely you are to succeed at said skill set; and, finally, there is supportive conditions, or how the job fits your lifestyle.
So, you will never love every aspect of any job but maybe being a firefighter isn’t right for you if you really value having regular weekends. Yes the pay can be great when you get promoted and work overtime. Also, you will feel like a hero and rightfully so. But, you will never be happy if Saturday barbecues and weekend fishing trips were what you dreamed of doing regularly with your family.
In that case maybe being an investment portfolio manager would have suited you better. Then you can have regular weekends, regular work hours, and you can donate some free time to give back to the community.
The question to ask is: which of the three is most important to me? Then, pick a career which can tailor to that.
Jachimowicz says, “…according to a recent Deloitte survey of 3,000 full-time U.S. workers, across job levels and industries, only 20% say they are truly passionate about their work.” I think this is because people chase the dream of being a hero and then realize it doesn’t afford them the flexibility they desire, or they chase capital and freedom only to find out they want to be a hero.
Find what matters most to you. Try out some careers and actively talk with those in the field. With some change in how we find careers, maybe people will find the passion they so desperately desire.