It’s the proverbial two sides of the coin and I, like so many others, find myself torn between which side to choose. Over the past two decades one side has become somewhat of a defining statement used by career counselors, coaches and even some very famous people all over the world, while in recent years, the other seems to be picking up speed.
“Follow your passion” vs “be passionate about what you do” are the seemingly opposite poles of the career spectrum that the experts debate about in terms of career satisfaction and success. But, what to choose?
“Follow your passion”
It seems so simple. Find what you are passionate about, pursue it relentlessly and career satisfaction is sure to be a given consequence of that choice. True? Unfortunately, not that simple. Take the reality show ‘Idols’ as example. So many hopefuls or “wannabe rockstars” pitch up at auditions in the hopes of becoming the next Emmy winning sensation. Their introductions include elaborate accounts of their passions, which, given the situation, are all about singing, music and performing. Their performance follows, often revealing that their passion and talent are sadly mismatched, suggesting that the “follow your passion” approach will unlikely be the path to their career success or even satisfaction.
“Become passionate about what you do”
On the other hand, many people have no clue about what their passion entails. Instead, they opt to pursue an interest or a line of work that comes along, perhaps even using it as a paycheck while they continue their search for their passion. Some are lucky, since they realize that they are actually quite good at that job, causing them to become quite passionate about what they’re doing.
Merits in both
The reality is that neither approach is right or wrong, they’re just different sides of the same coin. There is merit in both. There are those who are lucky enough to feel passionate about something and have the ability and opportunity to follow it relentlessly, resulting in an income earning outcome, success and prosperity and ultimately job satisfaction. Many successful sport stars, actors and actresses and many in other fields fall into that category – and that’s great. Others, unfortunately, aren’t that lucky and initially have to pursue a career based on convenience, necessity or pure interest, which may or may not result in them becoming passionate about their chosen career. You don’t have to look far for an ideal example of the latter, since Steve Jobs reportedly fitted that profile. He didn’t choose technology or computers and it wasn’t his passion to begin with. He started out as a means to a quick paycheck but the passion and success eventually followed alongside the work – and the rest is history.
Life – like people – is constantly changing.
Whatever you feel passionate about today, is likely to change over time. It’s a well known fact that people change their jobs and even careers at least three times on average during their life time, suggesting that the “follow the passion” approach may not be meant in its singular form. What you’re good at may not be your “passion” and vice versa.
The important thing in anyone’s search for fulfillment and job satisfaction is to remember that everyone feels passionate about something, no matter how seemingly insignificant. It may not be that overwhelming, all encompassing passion that drives people onto a fulfilling career path, but rather momentary feelings of intense excitement for a project, a cause or something else that can be cultivated into something deeper over time. It’s those feelings you need to explore and hold onto as often and as long as you can.
Don’t despair if you have not found your passion. Find something you feel excited about, regardless of whether it is in your personal or vocational life and pursue it relentlessly and over time it may well turn out to be that elusive passion you have been searching for all along.
What makes you feel super excited? What do you need to hold onto or explore in more depth?