Should You Follow Your Passions, Or Let Them Follow You?

There’s this cultural narrative that urges us to follow our passion. Time and time again we are told that this is the best, if not only, way to achieve success and happiness. There’s this idea that the solution to finding a job you love is to identify your passion and then make a career revolving around it because many people in admirable careers appear to be passionate about their jobs. But this advice can be problematic because it makes it seem like it is a natural process and that you have only one passion worth pursuing. 

While we encourage you to make your dreams come to fruition, it isn’t always a realistic approach for many occurrences in our lives, precisely when it comes down to finding a job. However, if you are determined to follow your passion, you should first think through every detail thoroughly.  

Passion doesn’t equal success  

In our current culture, we bundle passion and success together. We get that rush of dopamine when creating something, which in return sparks a bit of joy and energy in us. When we feel good about the work we do, we become motivated to continue doing it. The more motivated we are, the happier we are with the work we do, and the more comfortable we are with the work we do, the more successful we are--supposedly. 

Many motivational speakers, bloggers, and news outlets advise following this enthusiasm create a career out of it because there is an “apparent” formula that claims passion equals success. But this isn’t true, and before you even go about pursuing your passion, you need to answer these questions:  

Is this skill in demand, and if so can you make a living out of it? 

Would it still be a passion of yours if you had to do it for a living?  

Neglecting these nuances could be detrimental in the long run. If you have a passion for reading and writing, would you have the endurance to create your novel? If you are passionate about music, does that mean you should start learning an instrument to supplement it? If you had a passion for fashion, should you become a designer? Remember, practical goals are planned through the process of SMART goal-setting, and this practice is explicitly applicable to making your passion a career because you need to evaluate the practicality of such a goal realistically.

What is passion? 

But even with this advice being given, many people struggle to identify what they’re passionate about. It can be a daunting and stressful journey to uncover these possible desires you never knew you had, especially when you are faced with the pressures of finding employment. This is especially true because we are told to find “the right one,” causing us to have tunnel vision and forcing ourselves to be stuck. 

Try new things, explore the world, and surf the web for different hobbies--these are recommended ways to uncover our “hidden” passion. While it’s always great to actively set goals for yourself, it requires a lot of time and energy even to begin finding your “passion.” It’s always great to pick up a new hobby, even one you might find to have a passion for, but to force yourself to do this for the sake of making a career out of it is unrealistic for many people.  

This is fueled even further when we are faced with one of the most feared questions: “What are you passionate about?”. For many, this directly translates to a missing talent or skill. When we are put on the spot with this question, and we don’t have an answer, we bring ourselves down by reflecting on the lack of this passion. But that’s not what passion is. It’s not an object, a hobby, a skill, a person--it’s a feeling. As Terri Trespicio describes, “ [Passion] is the full force of your attention and energy that you give to whatever is right in front of you...the fire that ignites when you start rubbing sticks together.”  

Job Satisfaction 

You can find passion in a new job, and at you’re a current workplace, even if it doesn’t align with what you initially thought you were passionate about. All it takes is a change in mindset and understanding of what passion is. 

When you’re helping other people, you become better and better at it. And when you have something to offer to someone, the more involved you get with other projects. You develop stronger relationships with the people you once only had a small acquaintance with. You’re respected and the work you do it appreciated. Being generous and useful to people, no matter the job you’re in, you will become passionate about the work you. 

Live your Life  

Passion is enthusiasm, eagerness, excitement. It’s a compelling desire toward something and someone. Passion defines the amount of effort you will put into an activity, your job, or a relationship. At the end of the day, passion is in the same vein as any other emotion. We can’t develop passion on demand. In fact, it can change at any time, just like any different feeling. We may feel passionate about an activity or even a person one day, only to have it slip away the next. And then what happens? We move on. We might uncover new passions in our lifetime, but as we grow older our emotions change. 

We miss out on many opportunities when we are looking for the one job that completely aligns with our passion. Just like everything else in life, there is no equation for success. Stop searching for your passion, and start living your life, because passion isn’t a tangible object or a plan for the future--it’s merely a feeling. As Terri Trespicio says, “you don’t create your life first then live it, you create it by living it.” So what are you waiting for?