Stop Trying to “Find Your Passion” – College Info Geek

Stop Trying to “Find Your Passion” – College Info Geek

September 24, 2019 100 By Ronny Jaskolski


When it comes to the task of figuring out what
to do with your life or what kind of work to go into, one of the most common
pieces of advice that gets thrown around is, “Just follow your passion, yeah! “Just gotta find
your passion, man. “And go after it to
the ends of the earth.” This word, passion,
it keeps cropping up again and again. And we’re constantly being told that we simply
need to go find out whatever ours is. No longer shall we be
relegated to the work of previous generation’s
tedious, boring, factory work that our
parents did before us. Oh no, no, no. This is the now. You can go make super
hero capes for dogs if that is what your
passion truly is. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. But, no, “follow your passion”, as inspiring as it
is, is bad advice. It build its foundations
off of its assumptions that everyone is just born with a pre-existing passion. It’s like we’re all
onions and all you’ve gotta do is peel back the layers to figure out what’s inside. Though, I don’t know about you, but I’m not an ogre. And for most of my life, I would’ve been
pretty hard-pressed to tell you what the
heck my passion is. ‘Cause I just didn’t know. And this is the problem
that most people face. Either they don’t have
anything in their life that they can identify
as a real passion or there’s a lot of
things all over the place. Lots of vibrant
interesting things that they could
identify as passions but they don’t
really know which one to latch on to and pursue. This problem is
all the more common for students or people
who don’t really have a whole lot of experience
in their careers yet. I’m guessing that
you probably fall into one of those
two categories. Which is unfortunate
because this is also the point in your life
where you’re being asked to figure out what
to do with that life. Luckily, there is better
advice that you can use. Cal Newport, the author
of the fantastic book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, summed it up perfectly
for me when I asked him for his advice on
choosing a major. He said, simply, “Pick
something you have an interest in, and then
go full-bore and try to get as good as you
possibly can at it.” This advice, this focus
on building skills and gaining experience, this is the most effective
way to figure out what work truly fulfills you. You’re not born with
some innate thing you’re supposed to
do with your life. Rather you’re born
with personality traits and certain qualities of
work that you’ll enjoy. Maybe creativity, maybe
working with people, or working with
very logical things, autonomy or a sense of
impact in your work. These specific qualities
are going to be unearthed and slowly
discovered as you make more connections with people,
as you do more things, as you create things,
and gain skills. In the book I just
mentioned, Cal talks about a concept in the
scientific community called the Adjacent Possible. If you think about all of our collective, scientific knowledge as an ever-expanding bubble, then the Adjacent Possible is right outside that bubble. Right within our grasp. That’s where most new
discoveries are made. As we continue to
make new discoveries, and we continue to
grow that bubble the Adjacent Possible
grows as well. New things we didn’t even
know were possible before start to come out
of the fog and start to be within reach. In an article for
the New York Times, Steven Johnson
states it eloquently, “The strange and beautiful truth about the Adjacent
Possible is that its boundaries grow
as you explore them.” This concept
perfectly illustrates how you can go about
finding work that you love. As you learn and do
more and meet new people new opportunities
and possibilities are gonna emerge that you didn’t even know existed before, and that were
completely inaccessible in the past. Also, this focus on
skills and experience, rather than passion
or enjoyment, is gonna become
immensely helpful when you reach the dip. A concept that the
author Seth Godin popularized in his
book of the same name. The dip is the point
at which pursuing a skill becomes
difficult or boring. Let me tell you,
this always comes no matter what skill
you’re pursuing. At first, things start out fun. Your interest in
the subject keeps your motivation levels high and you’re able to
grasp the low-hanging fruit pretty easily. As time goes on, though, eventually those
easy progress gains stop coming and
the initial novelty of the subject wears off. To give you an example, beginning weight
lifters often make huge progress gains when they
first start lifting. I’m talking, like,
adding 50 pounds to their initial squat after
just a few weeks. Lifters call these
the “noob gains.” They happen because
beginning lifters are using muscles
that they already had but in ways that they
haven’t been used before. Also, they’re not really
lifting enough weight to truly challenge
their body’s ability to recover quickly. Pretty soon, though, most
lifters hit a plateau. A point where gains,
either, really slow down or stop altogether. Even though they’re
continually hitting the gym as much as they were before. This is the dip for lifters. They have to do a
couple of things to really push through it. Number one, they have to adopt smarter training
techniques that take into account the
additional recovery time needed for higher
levels of performance. But number two, they
really just have to adopt a lot of sheer
determination to keep pushing through
and making progress even though the rewards
have started to diminsh. This is the exact
same with any skill that you’re pursuing. At first, it’s going to be easy. The initial levels
are going to be easy to conquer, it’ll be fun. But, eventually, those
rewards will diminish and to continue building
that skill, to reach true excellence,
you do have to adopt smarter training methods
and you also have to simply have the grit
to keep pushing through even though it’s not fun. Once you do push
through that dip, and once you do start
building true excellence, this is where things
actually do start to get fun and interesting because now you have the skill to start doing things
that most people can’t do. You also have enough
experience and work under your belt that
people trust you and they know who you are. That means they’re
gonna start bringing you more interesting
proposals and projects which are gonna
be a lot more fun than the grunt work
you’ve been doing before. This has been my
experience exactly. I’m definitely not
alone in my belief that the pursuit of
excellence and skills and experience is far better than trying to
find your passion. Mark Cuban, the
billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks,
once wrote a blog post a few years ago that
really crystallized this idea for me. I want to wrap up this
video by quoting the part where he says, “Let me make
this as clear as possible. “When you work hard
at doing something, “you become good at it. “When you become good
at doing something, “you will enjoy it more. “When you enjoy doing something, “there is a very good
chance that you will “become passionate or
more passionate about it. “And when you are
good at something, “passionate, and work
even harder to excel “and be the best at it,
good things happen.” So stop trying to
find your passion through introspection
or BuzzFeed quizzes or whatever it is. Just pick an interest you have that has the
potential to be useful to other people in the
future and then go after it with as many smart
training techniques and as much sheer determination as you can muster. Good luck and
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