There are a number of popular quotes on finding the perfect career. For example, one says, “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion meet,” and another says, “You will never work a day in your life if you do something you love. ” The philosophy behind these quotes is fully rooted in our society.
From early adolescence to adulthood, many people seriously jot down these kinds of sayings in their journals or recite them as mantras while reflecting on and pursuing their professional goals. To be fair, spend some time finding out what you love to do and actually do it looks idyllic. However, the researchers are urging people to pause this approach before rushing into a “passionate career” – and crashing into a wall of disappointment.
Surprising new research says …
A 2018 joint study by Stanford and Yale-NUS College in Singapore challenged the well-meaning advice to “find your passion” through a study that included 126 undergraduate university students.
Paul O’Keefe, co-author of the study, said the researchers were focusing on this demographic because undergraduates are “at a point in their lives when they are bombarded with the idea that it you have to go out and find your passion. ” In five different experiments conducted with the same sample of participants, the researchers examined each of the students’ “implicit theories of interest” and how those interests might affect their careers.
The study’s results were surprising, but they also make a lot of sense. The researchers point out that the notion of channeling all of your energy into finding “a passion” assumes that we all have a passion to find in the first place. It can be exhausting and overwhelming if you never really “find” that passion.
Further, they argue that looking for a career that is directly related to your passion is like putting on blinders that prevent you from pursuing a range of interests. In doing so, you might fail to find a career where you are A) really good at or B) could benefit as much (if not more) than your “passion”.
Finding the path to a meaningful and fulfilling career
It is important to note that the conclusion of the study was not that you should do something that you hate or are saypassionate of. Rather, he argues that you shouldn’t get caught up in “finding a passion” that might not exist or forcing a passion that might not result in a viable career. It also emphasizes the importance of not limiting yourself when exploring potential career paths.
Barbara cox, PhD, a psychologist specializing in executive stress and burnout says it resonates with her:
I see clients who already know what their passion is but who are afraid to go for it out of underlying fear. However, a large majority of people have to explore many options to find out what they are good at. They may even be surprised to learn that they like things that they might not have tried if they were only doing things they used to do.
In this sense, she reiterates how crucial it is to be open to new experiences before embarking on a specific path. She also says that the path to finding a meaningful career varies from person to person.
“One of the best ways [to test different career paths] nowadays is to perform a variety of internships in both high school and college. This allows you to try different experiences and eliminate what you don’t like at first rather than [having to] understand when you have a midlife crisis, ”she explains.
Donna Lorraine Schilder, a career coach with the International Coach Federation, has over 20 years of experience helping executives and entrepreneurs determine what to do with their lives and professions. She says that while some people don’t have a real passion, she thinks most people can ultimately identify a career that they are passionate about and that matches their personality, strengths, and desired lifestyle.
In addition to exploring a variety of avenues, she also stresses the importance of determining what your strengths are.
“Martin Seligman, in his book Authentic happiness, presented his research which showed that if people use their ‘values in action’ in their work, they feel more fulfilled and therefore happier, ”says Schilder. “So if a coaching client comes to us looking for meaningful work, we are sure to include the VIA Force Inventory [developed by Seligman] in their career exploration actions. Then, we group all the possible careers into a matrix and help the client assess each one to determine which possibilities fit them the most. “
Services like this give people another way to broaden their horizons and explore their interests and strengths. This may be more realistic for someone who is not already in high school or college.
Finally, it is important to recognize that “non-glamorous” jobs are vital to our communities. These run the gamut, but examples include plumbing, housekeeping, and very demanding and stressful technical and medical jobs.
While many people are discouraged by such career paths, that’s not necessarily the case for everyone, says Schilder. She says a lot of people actually feel rewarded and fulfilled by jobs that aren’t seen as glamorous by society at large. In addition, the personal development factor may be offset by other factors (arguably just as important), such as connection with other people (for example, medical and maintenance work) or high salaries. (eg plumbing and technology).
Waning happiness at work? Try that.
We’re not here to blow up anyone’s skirt. The job is tough, and even if you are incredibly passionate about your field, you can still experience episodes of frustration, burnout, or general unhappiness. If your situation starts to seem overwhelming, try using the following expert advice:
Have a coffee with your colleagues.
“If you’re struggling to find joy in your current job, ask a coworker who loves the job what they like and set an example,” advises Cox. It gives you a new perspective and can rekindle the passion that led you to accept the job offer in the first place.
Schilder says you should try to write down the things you like to do in your job as well as the things you don’t like. “Find ways to do more of what brings you joy and ways to do less of what you don’t like to do.
Delegate with your boss’ permission, automate mundane tasks, find someone who likes to do what you don’t like to do, and see if they can take on some of the work, ”she says.
Resolve issues with your boss.
On that note, communicate with your boss about issues that you think can be resolved and improved over time. “If it’s appropriate and your boss would be open to it, discuss how your job could be redesigned to give you more of what you like and less of what you don’t,” Schilder says.
Remember that you are a valuable asset to your employer and that your happiness is essential to their success. Additionally, a problem cannot be fixed if no one knows there is a problem in the first place.
Another good to-do list, says Schilder, is one that includes all the things you love about your job. Read it every morning before work.
Take a break.
Burnout is quite normal and it is something that even the most dedicated and passionate employees experience. In fact, those who are over-invested in their careers are at particular risk of burnout because they are less likely to leave the office.
Interesting way, a 2017 study found that people who don’t use their vacation time are less likely to receive a promotion, raise or bonus than those who took their earned PTO. Getting away allows you to regenerate and reconnect with yourself, improving your creativity, energy level, and overall enthusiasm.
Invest in a hobby.
“If your 9-5 year job isn’t exciting for you, I suggest finding a volunteer job or a hobby that you’re passionate about so that you feel a sense of gratification in your life,” Cox says. This can also apply if you are burnt out or if you feel stuck in your career.
Likewise, taking a vacation can help you rejuvenate, as can spending time on a hobby. Consider signing up for a painting class, starting a project at home, getting into a fitness routine, joining a choir, or signing up for a weekly trivia night.
Consult an expert.
Cox says if you’re really unhappy at your job, it’s time to see a professional. “I suggest going to a career coach and discussing what brings you happiness and finding concrete ways to implement a plan,” she says.
As with most things, finding a fulfilling career is not a one-size-fits-all. Our goal is not to espouse one thing or another, but rather to encourage you to think critically about your approach to finding a fulfilling and lasting career.