Should You Follow Your Passion or Will It Follow You?

Today’s article from Cal Newport in the New York Times gives all of us a great opportunity to reflect on our own career choices.

The author comments on not subscribing to the “follow your passion” means of career discernment, but rather a more Puritan-like work ethic of working hard at whatever you do and then get better at whatever that might be.

Had I subscribed to the “follow our passion” orthodoxy, I probably would have left during those first years, worried that I didn’t feel love for my work every day. But I knew that my sense of fulfillment would grow over time, as I became better at my job. So I worked hard, and, as my competence grew, so did my engagement.

Today, I’m a computer science professor at Georgetown University, and I love my job. The most important lesson I can draw from my experience is that this love has nothing to do with figuring out at an early age that I was meant to be a professor. There’s nothing special about my choosing this particular path. What mattered is what I did once I made my choice.

To other young people who constantly wonder if the grass might be greener on the other side of the occupational fence, I offer this advice: Passion is not something you follow. It’s something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world.

I wonder if he’d feel the same way if he were say, a cashier in a fast food joint instead of a computer scientist?

Some work out of necessity, not deriving joy from it, but rather a paycheck. The question I’d have for those people is what’s beneath the drive for working at their job. Couldn’t they collect welfare or unemployment and avoid the stress of a low paying, sometime demanding job? Perhaps pride gets in the way here, but I believe there’s another driving force that keeps those people from quitting.

It’s called passion.

While some might not have their passion fulfilled by their career, they may choose to follow an advocation or a similar side-occupation. But they find these passions not by apathetically and mindlessly falling into a job.

No, they find it by looking back on their lives.

What has driven you to passion? Can you gather all the moments that you’re proud of and see if they connect in some way? Maybe a pattern has formed and you NOTICE an underlying passion to all the things in your life that have been meaningful.

These are the things my latest book, Loving Work, discusses and I even give you a method to use to help discover your passion–which again might be a career and might not be.

But it is a passion nonetheless. And some of us make a living doing this and some of us work to be able to spend time on our passion.

But our passion isn’t something that we stumble upon. Instead we stumble when we fail to notice who we are….

And more importantly who we are becoming.

To order my book Loving Work…click here.

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