The Problem with PassionMay 24th, 2008 · 10 comments
Greetings from Annapolis
You may have noticed there was no Friday blog post. I’m still on the road and have limited computer access. I still wanted, however, to leave you a brief note. Yesterday I was roaming a Barnes & Noble, and, naturally, I gravitated to the graduation table to check out the latest crop of student advice guides. I discovered that no fewer than four new books were centered on the following idea: the key to being happy after college is to identify your passion then go do something that fulfills it.
Here’s my problem with this concept:
- Passion is generated by extended exposure to something that becomes an important part of your life. It’s not some magic score assigned to each job that describes, with great accuracy, how happy you’ll immediately become if you follow that path. (In reality, it’s really just a fancy word for general occupational fulfillment.)
- As a recent graduate, you have not yet been exposed to any job long enough for you to know what might fit well with you and lead, down the road, to the type of general fulfillment people dub passion.
- How, then, are you, as a newly minted graduate, supposed to identify a passion?
- Conclusion: Passion-centric career planning reduces to well-intentioned guess-work — typically based on some rough — and highly limited — idea about what types of jobs seem like they should be passion-inducing.
Herein lies the advantage of lifestyle-centric planning: It gets you started down the right path without requiring you to have an expert-level knowledge of a large number of potential careers. It also relieves you of the stress of trying to identify some magical perfect job that will maximize this fuzzy metric. And finally, guess what? If you’re living a lifestyle you really like, pretty soon you might just start to describe yourself as “passionate.”