The Missing Component in “Follow Your Passion”

One common piece of advice to find your calling or purpose in life is “follow your passion.”  But I’ve spent the better part of 2013 attempting to discern my passion to no avail.  The problem isn’t that I don’t have a passion but that I have too many!

Photo Credit: studentry.sg
Photo Credit: studentry.sg

I’ve bounced countless ideas off the walls of my mind.  I’ve envisioned scenarios that have me in London, England inner-city Chicago, the rural South, and many places besides.  All of this soul searching has led mainly to more questions.  But when I read an article called, “Is ‘Follow Your Passion’ Really Bad Advice?” by Matt Perman my dilemma became a bit more manageable.

Perman describes a critical component of following your passion that often goes unmentioned.  He says,

“The ‘passion’ that you are to look for is not simply a passion for a certain arena, but also a passion for certain activities.

That’s the key. Your strengths—your passions—are not abstract things; they are abilities. Your strengths are the activities that strengthen you. They are specific activities, not just areas or even goals.

I had been going around in circles thinking about my passion because I was thinking too generally.  I was searching for movements and missions that inspired me.  While this is part of finding your passion, there’s more to it.  When I started thinking about the actual activities and actions–the real work involved in the mission–my sense of calling became clearer.

Thinking about the specific tasks involved in a particular vocation helped me immediately rule out certain options.  I already know what I don’t like to do.  Now I can get down to deeply pondering what activities motivate and drive me.

As Perman goes on to state,

What you need to look for in choosing a job or career path is a love and enjoyment of the actual activities you will be doing, not just an enjoyment of the mission of your organization or its field. That’s the meaning of “follow your passion.”

As you attempt to find your passion, think about the activities and actions involved in each possibility.  Picturing what you’ll be doing day-to-day in a certain vocation may help you discover the overarching passion(s) of your life.

Read the rest of the article here.

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