"Finding your passion" is a riddle that confounds many people, but we're told that once you do, things get a lot easier in your career and life, right?
Not according to research!
In a recent study, psychologists at Stanford aimed to take a deeper look at the science behind "Finding your passion," and question how valid the advice was.
The researchers surveyed Stanford students from different fields of study (either science/tech or arts/humanities) and measured their interest in academic articles both related and unrelated to their fields. Additionally, they also measured the openness of the students to learning more about other potential areas of interest.
So what did the researchers find? Is "Finding your passion" the key to discovering and leading your ideal career path?
The short answer is no, it's not. According to the study, passion is better "developed" than "found."
Essentially what the authors are arguing is that if you are solely fixed on "Finding your passion," you risk closing yourself off to other potential opportunities that may bring fulfillment in your career. Along with that, you might be more likely to abandon potential careers and areas of professional interests when you face challenges as you "follow your passion."
The authors of the study use the analogy of dating. If you're searching for your soulmate, or "The One" (e.g. "your passion"), then you probably have a set criteria by which you are strictly judging potential partners. If someone doesn't meet the criteria, or you face a challenge in that relationship, you might give up on that person thinking that they're just "not the one." But if you're open to the idea that there may be many potential options that can lead to lasting love, it expands the opportunities you're willing to pursue.
In many ways, moving forward in your career is similar to dating. If you're too strictly tied to finding THE passion that you want to pursue as a career path, it may set you up for the possibility of disappointment and discouragement when challenges come along the way of pursuing that singular path. You might also close yourself off to other overlooked opportunities that you can discover and develop a passion for.
So what does this mean for finding a satisfying and rewarding career path? It means that the path of your career isn't fixed to one thing, like a passion. There likely is no one job, company, role or passion that will bring you the ultimate fulfillment you're seeking.
Instead, try new things, find unique opportunities, take more risks, and push past the challenges that come your way. Don't try to find the one passion to follow, but develop many passions in your career with openness, flexibility and curiosity.
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