Follow Your Passion? Maybe Not.

Written by Heather Kim

We’re often told that following our passion is the route to happiness in your career and life. That’s great news if you know what your passion is. But, many of us either at the beginning of our career or in mid-career, don’t know what our passion is.

For the young, there are so many options but little experience so it’s tough to know what passion to pursue. For those of us in mid-career, laid off, or transitioning to what’s next after raising a family, the question of passionate purpose can still remain a mystery.

Actually, The New York Times had a great story from Cal Newport, a Georgetown University professor who recalled how fresh out of college he had three choices: become a writer, go to graduate school or take a job at Microsoft. Faced with these options, Cal didn’t know what to do. He didn’t feel a passion about any of these choices. He just went with what he thought would be a good move (he went to graduate school). While he says that was grueling with a large dose of self-doubt, he found that as he got good at his research, his passion found him.

How did he do it? He said he focused on being good at a particular skill.  Autonomy helps and is a key driver of happiness because you get to make your own imprint.

I’d go a step further. Just take action. Make a decision. Just being in the game and doing a good job can craft a success whether that be in creating a product or a service or just working with a good team to reach a goal.  And, with that, the passion can bubble up. Also, later in life that passion can be in a lot of different areas. In your 40s and 50s, you have a lot of life experience. “Your Passion” doesn’t have to be just one thing like we often think when we’re younger. You may found an abundance of “Your Passions” finding you.


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