FOLLOW YOUR PASSION – the worst advice to give

CATEGORY: , 24.09.18
By Beata Justkowiak

Graduation speeches and most of the self-help books and well-meaning therapists preach the gospel of “following your passion.” It is based on the belief that if only you follow your passion (assuming you know what is your passion) you will be forever happy and satisfied no matter what you do in life.

This is actually terrible advice


Cal Newport, PhD, explores this misguided wisdom is detail in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. He explains that this is problematic because it assumes:


  1. People have preexisting passions.

  2. If you match this passion to your job, then you’ll enjoy that job.

  3. There is the perfect job somewhere out there waiting for you.


However, research shows that many people don’t have preexisting passions and workplace satisfaction far more complex than matching interest, emotions and job description. Cal Newport says that the ‘follow your passion’ not only is the cliche flawed—preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work—but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping.


Rather than following your passion, Newport argues that passion is something to cultivate and build.


Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.


When you hear the stories of people who ended up loving what they do, this same pattern comes up again and again. They start by painstakingly developing rare and valuable skills — which we can call career capital. They then leverage this capital to gain rare and valuable traits in their career. These traits lead to a feeling of passion about their working life…Stop worrying about what the world owes you, it says, and instead, put your head down, and strive to become so good you can’t be ignored. It’s this straightforward goal—not some fairy tale about dropping everything to pursue a dream job—that will lead you toward a working life you love.


Make your life sweet by doing what matters to you.


Best wishes,


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