‘Passion is the key to success’
‘5 Tips for passionate living’
‘Passion is the cornerstone of fulfilment’
This advice was for a time a cornerstone of self development and career advice, but I can say for certain that I am so sick of ‘finding my passion’.
I have been searching for my dream job ever since I left school. I had the usual advice, find out what skills and interests you have then find a job that uses them.
I followed this advice in the past only to find how wrong it is. Two decades later only now do I feel as though I have found my calling. Newsflash…. it’s not what I thought it was.
Passion has become so overused within certain circles that I feel the meaning of the word has become blurred. It interests me because like many people I want a life where I do live passionately, a life of purpose and meaning.
What still bothers me is I am often plagued by doubt. I don’t believe I am the only one to discover this either.
Why don’t I feel passionate about this subject even though I have an interest in it?
It might be that I am mistaking passion for motivation, but then what is the difference? Yet the problem, and the questions it brought up still remain.
Why am I not passionate about this? Why do I feel indifference to to it now?
Later on I might feel different. But to be a success at something you need to work on it often, every day in fact. This indifference, the lack of passion puzzled me, yet lack of motivation can hit us all, so now I am confused.
Is this a subject I am passionate about or not?
The Two faces of Passion
Out of curiosity I looked up on Dictionary.com the definition of passion.
pas·sion [pash-uh n] noun
- any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
Am I missing something? This definition is nothing like the passion talked about in the self help books.
So what are these self help gurus talking about? Well it seems two possibilities:
- Passion has more than one definition when we talk about it
- What the self help writers and speakers talk about is not passion, but something else
The dictionary definition, says passion is an emotion. Which means passion comes and goes like any other emotion.
But in self development circles passion is described as long term. It’s more to do with our spiritual side, the kind of life long need to make a difference, to have a purpose in life. It’s the ‘what I am here to do’ idea.
The usage of the word in the blogs and books I have read was different to the dictionary definition, and this confused me.
The other possibility is the word passion the self help writers use is not really passion at all. It’s the wrong word to describe what they are getting at. Perhaps a better word is motivation, which is known to come and go.
Or maybe I have just read the wrong books and blogs, and I am talking nonsense.
Maybe it’s not that passion does not exists, but perhaps our means of finding it is wrong. I am not sure which is the better explanation, other than to say, this distinction helped me a lot.
The reason is both passion and motivation do come and go. It made me feel better by not having to feel passionate all the time. I could relax more, not beating myself up for the lack of feeling I’m told I should have.
Life became a little calmer with this revelation. This acceptance allowed me to concentrate more on my longer term purpose, and the necessary actions and tasks that I need to do to bring it to fruition.
I focus now more on the work and less on the emotions. I try my best to turn up for writing everyday, even though I may not feel like it. Persistence does pay off.
Further more the idea that we should ‘follow our passion’ for that amazing job, may itself be a problem. Cal Newport has written on this subject.
Following a passion is based upon the idea of a dream job that you discover and pursue. But what happens then is we evaluate every job as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘boring’ or ‘exciting’. 
He says that the more emphasis you place on doing work you love, the unhappier you become when you don’t love every moment of your work. This pursuit for the perfect job could be a cause for decreasing job satisfaction .
Since all jobs have their own downsides, no vocation could ever live up to the ideal of a dream job.
To me the problem here appears to be a bad case of perfectionism. Further still this idea of the ideal career appears to be a holdover of the past, when people did the same job all their working life.
This is not the case anymore. You will likely hold several professions in your lifetime, so the notion of a dream job falls flat when you fail to keep it.
The answer to this problem of passion, and ‘the dream job’ ideal, is to ignore it. Instead focus on developing the skills you enjoy using.
To be in an amazing job is to be in demand for some skill or knowledge you have that others don’t. But also working on something that is important to you.
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- The Danger of the Dream Job Delusion – Study Hacks – Cal Newport [Internet]. [cited 2014 Apr 1]. Available from: http://calnewport.com/blog/2010/09/10/the-danger-of-the-dream-job-delusion/
- The Passion Trap: How the Search for Your Life’s Work is Making Your Working Life Miserable – Study Hacks – Cal Newport [Internet]. [cited 2014 Apr 1]. Available from: http://calnewport.com/blog/2010/10/16/the-passion-trap-how-the-search-for-your-lifes-work-is-making-your-working-life-miserable/