I used to think that in order to be really happy in your career you had to find something you were passionate about. Then you just make that your life’s pursuit. But I no longer believe that is true. And neither should you.
- Difficult to find
- Difficult to define
- Difficult to turn into a lucrative career.
- Likely to make you cut off your ear and mail it to someone you admire. #WayToVanGogh
The problem is that most people’s passions are things like music, art, yoga, puppies, food, sleep, alcohol, video games, and sexual activities. These are all good passions. And it’s easy to express how much you love these things with bumper stickers. It’s much harder to turn them into lucrative careers.
To become really happy with your career you don’t need to start out with a passion.
You simply have to find an interesting challenge.
If you are into problem-solving or skill development, almost anything can be considered an interesting challenge.
Next, focus on getting really good at that interesting challenge. As you get better and better at it, people will notice. They will turn to you first as a trusted resource. Then people will turn to you as an expert in that area. And that feels great. (Unless you are a hired assassin. In which case you probably have mixed feelings.)
Through the process of becoming really good at your chosen work, you are highly likely to develop a passion for your area of expertise. Consider that most people aren’t born with a passion for supply chain management, textile manufacturing, or currency trading. But a surprising number of people die with those passions.
Which means that when you dive into an interesting challenge, the challenge itself can ignite your passion. We develop passion in areas that make us feel strong, skilled and admired. We become passionate when we understand nuances and develop extreme intelligence in specific areas. Because what we are really becoming passionate about is self-improvement, mastery, and excellence.
Passions develop over time. Don’t make finding your passion your goal. Instead, recognize that the world offers an endless supply of interesting challenges and problems to solve. Grab one of them. Any of them. Then dive in. The challenge itself will be interesting. Your professional development will be fun and rewarding. Your expanding knowledge, skills and perspective will increase your value to others. Which is highly rewarding. And somewhere along the way, your interesting challenge alchemizes into your passion. When it does your work no longer feels like work. It feels like passion. And it will make others wonder how to discover their own passion so that they love their work as much as you do.
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