- in Careers
"Do what you love." "Follow your bliss." "Find your passion."
We hear this advice all the time. There's just one catch: if you already knew what your passion was, you wouldn't be reading this blog post. So assuming you haven't found your passion and are groping your way forward like 99 percent of the rest of us, here's some advice:
Don’t Even Try To "Find Your Passion"
Don't even try to find your passion. Instead, pick a path, develop expertise, choose a positive attitude, and watch the passion develop as your skills, connections, and confidence grow.
You see the trick here? Passion comes from what you do, not before. I eventually became a passionate diplomat, but before I represented the United States as a government official, I had no idea what the work entailed--or even if I would enjoy it. The passion came from developing deep expertise, working extremely hard, getting good at the work (which took years, by the way), and enjoying the great friendships and contacts that I developed along the way.
This notion of not focusing on your passion has been touched in many different ways by other writers such as Cal Newport. But the best elaboration of this concept that I have ever found was this brilliant, down-to-earth TED talk by Terri Trespicio. I really really really suggest you watch this short video. It is the ultimate antidote for the "Disney World thinking" that infuses so much of our culture in the age of abundance.
Passion Comes From Building Skills
If there is a single piece of career advice that I wish I had been given as I graduated high school, this is it. Don't try to find your passion. Get to work on something that interests you and build skills. The passion will follow. Instead, I heard "follow your bliss," "do what you love," and other vague bits of unactionable advice. The terrifying result of this advice is that we spend time contemplating our navel about which direction to go rather than building mad skills and then loving what we do as a result of building technical greatness.
So, if you are reading this, stop worrying about "finding your passion."
Pick a path (preferably one that gives you a degree of autonomy and pays well once you get deep into your career), and get to work. Your passion will find you.