Common misconceptions around the word passion & how to discover & nurture yours
We have all been there; we have all wrongfully believed at some point growing up, that by the time we’d leave college the path to our future would be clear: it would be paved by a meaningful dream towards which we would work hard and earnestly until fulfilling it. As it turns out, that doesn’t quite add up in the real world. In fact, the answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up” isn’t easy, isn’t permanent, and isn’t something you figure out just because the world suddenly decided you are now a grown up and should know these things.
Dreams and passions are very dense concepts. They speak to our most intimate and personal views of the world. They bring up transcendent questions such as what is my contribution to society? What have I come here to do? Will I ever be able to pay the bills and work on my passion simultaneously? Is this belief just another byproduct of Hollywood movies? Or put into simpler words: what do I want to spend my days doing?
There are several wrong notions around this topic. To begin with, most people believe that there are two groups of people: those who have a passion and those who don´t. Another common mistake is believing that the ones who do have a passion, have it all figured out. And lastly, many believe that even if they have figured out what their passion is, there is no way of making a professional path out of it.
Let’s debunk these misconceptions in the same order they have come up:
1-Misconception #1: “I don’t have a passion”
Yes you do, you just haven’t spent enough time figuring out what it is. And you can´t expect to do so by staying in your comfort zone. How do you know if you like a certain ice cream flavor? You don’t, until you try it. People who claim they don’t have a passion normally have certain clues but are too afraid to take the leap into the unknown. Take a painting class, sign up for a conference on a topic you have always been interested in but know nothing about. Call people, write them emails, ask for advice. And read, read, read and then read again. Books are truly a beautiful way of learning new things in a manner that other formats don’t always provide. This doesn’t mean you have to read books you find boring, when you find a topic you love you won’t stop. Complement this curiosity with movies, documentaries, whatever makes you enthusiastic, whatever makes you excited to tell your friends about.
Your calling will not arrive at your doorstep, it is something you have to discover. And so the most common mistake people make is trying to take safe steps that will bring no risk and will “make sense”. It shouldn’t make sense, at least not from a rational standpoint. It should come from your grit and you will discover that this fearlessness isn’t necessarily an intrinsic characteristic people are born with, it is an aptitude that can be trained and built, just like athletes develop their skills through constant practice and discipline.
In conclusion, everyone has the ability to discover their passion, those who seemingly have are not the smartest nor most talented, but the most stubborn. The ones willing to ask questions without fear of being told they are stupid. The ones willing to quit the job that makes them unhappy. The ones willing to try things and move on to the next when they realize it doesn’t appeal to them. The ones wiling to have fun.
image source: Cris PIASCIK
2- Misconception #2: Believing the hard part ends after “you have found out what your passion is”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, that’s where the work actually begins. But I believe it is important to stress that passion is a malleable perception, it changes over time, as do you. So the duty of a committed human being is to constantly ask yourself the same questions and revisit your answers. As Malcolm Gladwell put it:
“That’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being — to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.”
So no. Passion is not a checkbox you tick and call it a day. It is day in, day out task, a continuum of small lifelong decisions. So your obligation is to continue growing in whichever field you have chosen, and acknowledging that each day you gain experience, you also gain a fuller list of things you can learn. And if you are no longer happy, eager and excited for what’s to come, find something new that will.
Mistake #3: I don’t have time or money to afford having a passion:
Lastly, but probably most important, the third mistake is thinking you have to ignore your passion because you can’t afford acknowledging it as a means of income. Do your research, ask people whom you admire for advice, practice, learn from your mistakes and keep-on-going. Many successful people started out making their income from completely different areas, but what they all have in common is that they made time for what they actually enjoyed doing on the side. They worked hard until their hobby become their craft, their craft became their work and their work became their motivation.
So, here a few key tips to help you find a job that you actually look forward to:
-Start by acknowledging your strengths. What are you good at?
-Realistically make a list of the things you are not good at but would like to be, and plan out a way to become better at them. In the words of Ted speaker Eduardo Briceño, this is what’s called the learning field, this field allows mistakes, screwing up and develops necessary confidence and curiosity that will help you further along during the performance field.
-Start talking to people. Don’t be afraid to email someone you admire for advice, to talk to friends, professors, your friends, and your boss about it. The more serious and confident you are about what makes you tick, the more people will believe it too. This will help you make connections and stay committed. This will also help the people around you to start associating you with this field. If you never mention what you like doing, how will people ever know?
-Do not give up. Becoming good at something takes time, a lot of it. As long as you understand that being skilled is a learning process, success will eventually come along. Understand early on that rejection is normal, do not take it personally and use it as fuel to keep on going.
If this topic resonated with you in any way, here are a few extra materials that will keep you thinking and inspired, by offering incredible insights, they will help you understand that there is truly no need to dread your job or ignore the things you enjoy doing. Life should be an exciting combination of fear, courage, motivation, hard work and adventure. Don’t ever let someone tell you otherwise.
TED Talk: "How to get better at the things you care about" by Eduardo Briceño
TED Talk: "Grit: The power of passion and perseverance" by Angela Lee Duckworth
Book: The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna