When it’s not so easy to follow your passion
Follow your passion — that’s the message you often hear from a member of your team as they announce they’re resigning … and it’s also that little voice in your head that keeps hammering away like a mantra. And yet it's far from simple in reality.
Jon M. Jachimowicz is not alone in being passionate about researching how passionate people are about their work. But by aggregating the studies conducted by other researchers and his own, Jachimowicz has reached three conclusions:
- Passion doesn’t just fall into your lap from on high: it is something that is developed. Thinking that your passion is predetermined and that all you have to do is identify it is a limiting belief. Such reasoning will reduce your field of experimentation or lead you to flit from one job to another. Passion is built over time.
- It’s not easy to pursue your passion, especially since it diminishes with time. So pursuing it doesn’t mean focusing on what’s fun or what you like the most. Rather, it means focusing on your concerns and what matters most to you — a subtle but significant difference.
- Our passion can also lead us astray — by breeding overwork or overconfidence — hence the importance of recognizing its limits.
A rewarding job is more about doing what’s important for you than doing what you love. Jachimowicz and his coauthors confirm that people looking for a “big purpose” are more successful in following their passions (and are less likely to leave their job) than those who seek pleasure. Pleasure can disappear; the meaning you give to what you do remains.
To go further: “3 Reasons It’s So Hard to ‘Follow Your Passion’” by Jon M. Jachimowicz (HBR blog, October 2019)