Want Work You'll Love?

By Siew Ching

Here’s what you should follow...

The popular saying goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” We hear this so often and may have even written about it! While there is some truth to it, here’s a flipside to that age-old career advice: Don’t follow your passion.

To set the record straight on this mainstream advice, the problem with following your passion is that it is not a plan. Passion is a feeling and what do we know about feelings – they change. Which means, your passion might change as well! One day you could really be into baking and think maybe you should give up your day job and explore life as a baker instead. Ten years down the road, your cake mixer is probably collecting dust instead! Or maybe you are working in IT because it’s what you were born to do. However, if you are working in a company you hate with people you can’t stand and a salary you wished were 10X more, we’re willing to bet you’re not doing work you love.

Here's another example: What if your passion is in things like dancing, singing, acting, reading, gardening? It’s not exactly easy to build a successful career in many passions simply because the road to the top takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice and sweat.

Which brings to our next point instead – instead of following passion, why not focus on the skills you’re good at. These don’t necessarily mean you’re passionate about them but seem to have a knack for – you might not think twice about wanting to be a mathematician but you’re really good with numbers. Or you have a thing for details and there’s really no passion in that. Maybe you’re good at presenting ideas; we’re willing to bet that is not something born out of passion but more out of practice.

Also, what if you don’t have a passion? Are you doomed to never be happy at work? Not at all! Not everyone can confidently state one specific passion and how it can become a career – and that’s OK! Sometimes, you just need more education, experience and time to explore different roles in different companies to hone in on a passion and be good at it. This is probably a better career advice than follow your passion – instead, take the time to figure out what you really like to do and be better at it! Now only will you love your work but you’ll be paid well for it too!

Another problem with following your passion? It’s all fine and dandy when you do it occasionally but if you have to do it every day and think of ways to make money out of it, you might lose interest in that passion or it won’t be as exciting as it once was. It just becomes a job with deadlines, pressure, stress and anxiety.

What we think you should follow instead? Try these:

#1 Follow the need to be better
It might not have anything to do with your passion but levelling up could mean better opportunities for you. Take the time to build that skill instead and then you can explore a new career or role that will bring you more job satisfaction than one with passion will.

#2 Follow your effort
Say you’ve put in so many hours in university and then work to be really good at something. And those extra hours really show because you are a subject matter expert. Are you willing to throw all that way simply because you want to follow your passion? Don’t! When you work hard at something, you become good at it. So good that you might even enjoy it. And when you enjoy something you’re good at, two things will happen – you’ll love what you do and you will be paid handsomely for being good at it. Mark Cuban (he’s really good at what he does and it shows in how successful he is!) says it best when he says: “In order to be one of the best, you have to put in effort. So don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. The one thing in life that you can control is your effort.”

#3 Follow your curiosity
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat; it made the cat better at looking at things from all different angles and working out innovative ways to achieve success. A lot of time, passion comes after you try something, and by trying something means asking questions, thinking of new ways to try it, exploring new avenues. This wanting to learn and grow is what will drive your career success.

#4 Follow what will make you happy!
Essentially, there are a lot of other things that will make you happy at work – not just passion! It could be working for a great company that values your growth and supports that. It might be having time for yourself when you want it. It could also be being in a competitive environment to push yourself. Hey, it could even mean making loads of money that doesn’t have anything to do with passion! So ask yourself this question – what will make you love work and how will you get it? The answer probably has more to do with the work and company, and less to do with your passion.

Photo by Charles Etoroma on Unsplash.

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