The big fat lie behind doing what you’re passionate about

If you went through the American educational system, worked for a real corporation or read any career self-help book, you must have been told that you’re supposed to do what you’re passionate about and then you will become happy and successful. Well, this is sort of a stupid career advice.I had a conversation about this with yet another fellow overachiever and decided it’s about time I put some thoughts in writing.

First,if I knew what I am passionate about, I’d be doing it already, won’t I?

Second, after about 20-30 years of being conditioned that having job is the necessary evil, means to an end, the responsible choice or whatnot, it’s very hard to be able to associate the positive emotional sensation of passion to something so logical and cold as building my own career. I am passionate about sleeping, eating, traveling. If I just did those for work, I would probably not be passionate about them anymore.

Third, people who are REALLY passionate about one and only thing scare me, quite frankly. It’s a form of OCD. Have you ever been in a conversation with a fishing or golf enthusiast for more than 5 minutes? What about those people who are really passionate about trading derivatives, creating power points, feeding the homeless, or making crochet baby animals? In the begging of the conversation, you think to yourself “oh, how interesting!”. One hour later (or probably less, depending on your level of patience), this thought has most certainly developed to “please get me out of here!!”.

My point is to tell you, dear career-frustrated readers, that you should stop wasting your time on waiting for your passion to illuminate your future career path. Almost everyone is in the same boat, so you’re not alone in your narcissist obsessions. The important point is that if you’re trying to discover your passion, it means that you’re most likely unhappy with your current situation. My medicine: make a change. Any change: department, company, location, friends. The worst thing one can do to his or her self is complain about the status quo and not take action to change it.

Not ready to make a physical change yet? Make a mental shift. The big corporation, aside from enslaving your soul with promises of a big paycheck, fancy titles and incredible “growth opportunities”, normally possesses an incredible array of resources at your disposal: free access to any kind of market research, an army of experts of on every possible subject and functional area, and a huge global network of contacts. Try exploiting those to learn about anything and everything. If you try hard enough, you might find some inspiration.