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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 04-Jan-14

 


Sunday 04-January-14

Passion and antipassion

Should you follow your passion? Many think so, and it certainly makes sense. If there is something that you like doing, then why not do it. Make it central to your life and career.

But it is not that easy.

For a start, few people have a single driving passion. We may have a range of things we like doing, but diving headlong into one of these could drain our enthusiasm for it. Making models, for example, may be a fun hobby, but a constant pressure to deliver if you did it full time could kill the leisurely pleasure of taking time and seeking perfection.

In practice, you have to try in order to know if something can be a sustained passion, which in the real world leads to job-hopping. Regularly changing jobs can certainly help you explore, but this is not free. At each switch you start from the bottom, which can dent any career progression even as it gives you helpful breadth and self-knowledge. Employers like neat resumes and aren't keen on letting you just 'try stuff'.

Another reality is that happiness at work is often as much social as technical. It is more often good colleagues and managers that make it fun and productive rather than passion or pure skill.

Consider the 'triple job dilemma'. In priority order, you want: (a) something you enjoy doing, (b) something you are able to do, and (c) something where you will be paid enough to support the lifestyle you want. The dilemma is that you have to do it backwards. If nobody will pay you, then how will you live? The very common result is work you can tolerate but don't love.

When I was young, a wise old uncle said 'You can't always do what you like, but you can like what you do.' I took the advice to heart and have had a varied and always enjoyable career. With an 'antipassion' approach, I've looked first for decently paid jobs, then worked like crazy to build skills, and along the way looked for how I could enjoy it all. Sure, I've had restarts, but, it has mostly worked and has never been boring. Eventually it all kind of converged and I found myself with a unique perspective that helped me to some well-paid and enjoyable work even as others were holding their breath and hoping to reach retirement before the axe of redundancy fell.

In this reversal, passion comes from work and choice rather than magically being there, in full strength, from beginning to end. Sure, some things didn't work out, others faded, and new possibilities tempted change, but most of all a positive attitude gave me motivation and helped me succeed.


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