Waiting for a job you’re passionate about is as disappointing as it is time-consuming. In the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport, he debunks the long-held assumption that “following your passion” is sound advice.
Successful careers are not founded on the notion that passion is the path to success. Cal argues that passion emerges after you have worked hard to become outstanding at something meaningful, not before. Put another way, what you do for a living is far less important than how you do it.
Passion is rare
If you seemingly have no strong passion for anything, fret not – you are not the only one. Strong passion is rare, and, in fact, pursuing a career, you are enthusiastic about may not be ideal.
The “passion hypothesis”, now advocated by many life coaches and authors, encourages people to “do what they love”. The idea is first to discover your passion, and then look for a meaningful job in your areas of passion. This hypothesis has been proven to be a fallacy.
Firstly, passion that aligns with career opportunities is incredibly rare. In a 2002 study, 84 out of 100 Canadian university students stated that they have something they are passionate about. However, most of the passions they recognised had nothing to do with relevant occupations and were instead pastimes such as dancing, reading, and skiing. Only four out of every 84 students had passions directly linked to careers or skillsets, such as computer programming.
Secondly, following your passion can be harmful. Since the publication of “the passion theory” in 1970, more people have begun to pursue their passions. Convinced that people should only do what they enjoy, they change employment more frequently. However, the job economy is unable to match these needs. Not everyone can be a professional sommelier or poet, and many job searchers end up in occupations they dislike. As such, work satisfaction dropped in recent decades. This means that searching for employment you think you were “meant to do” will likely lead to job-hopping and self-doubt.
Learn to love what you do through developing mastery, autonomy, and connectedness
Instead of finding a passion and building a career around it, focus on growing your experience.
The more experience you have, the more likely you will enjoy your work and regard it as a vocation. Passion develops over time; you are more likely to be content with what you do when you build competency, have a sense of efficacy, and have solid relationships with your co-workers.
Adopt a craftsman mindset, put in the effort, and step beyond your comfort zone
The passion mindset is centred on the question, “What do I truly want?” This means that those who pursue passion often wonder if their job is a good fit for them. They are hyper-aware of the value their occupations bring them and everything they despise about their jobs. In the end, their overall pleasure and job satisfaction suffer.
On the other hand, the craftsman mindset asks: “What value can I offer to my job?” This mindset is an output-oriented approach to work and essential for creating work you enjoy.
The craftsman mindset recognises that success is always about quality, no matter your profession.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you”, comedian Steve Martin says.
Focus on the quality of your current work rather than constantly worrying if it is your true calling. When you adopt a craftsman mindset, you will not be afraid to go above and beyond to increase the quality of your job.
Collect career capital by learning unique and valued skills to land a fantastic job
The craftsman mindset is beneficial in any vocation because it encourages deliberate practice, which aids in acquiring specific skills and proficiency. People with uncommon skills are more likely to land high-paying jobs.
Obtain career capital to keep control and autonomy in your employment
According to research, being in control is essential for living a happy and meaningful life. This is also true at work. When you are good at what you do and have the autonomy to decide how you want to do it, you gain greater control and respect, and that leads to satisfaction.
Find a motivating mission that serves as a unifying objective for your professional life
A task is more compelling if it has a purpose. People with a relevant, meaningful goal in their work are more satisfied with their employment and perform better under challenging conditions. You can find a worthwhile career goal if you have the autonomy and are willing to look for it.
Learn to enjoy what you do rather than search for a career that matches your passion.
Instead of being obsessed with uncovering your calling, focus on mastering useful skills and using them wisely. Take advantage of this mastery to gain control over what you do and how you do it.
In summary, it all comes down to building a set of rare and valuable skills to progress in your career and gain better control over what you do and how you do it. With more control, you can embark on a mission or set yourself new goals. Once you achieve your mission or goals, you will find satisfaction in what you do. Passion will find you.
This article is co-created by NexPage, a translated book summary app, and Workipedia by MyCareersFuture.