Karen Darrin

With my work, I chat with many professionals sitting in their office/cubical day after day. They ask how they can find their passions when spending their days bogged down with projects that seem to have no lasting value. They want to do more with their lives but don’t know how. Do they even have a passion? Or are they just destined to continue doing what they are doing? How can they find out? Consider the following.

Rather than seek one job or career path that ignites your passion, you should invest meaningfully in different interests and cultivate passions in one or more fields. Elizabeth Gilbert speaks about this when she describes the “hummingbird approach” to life. Instead of seeking that “one thing” that will light you up, follow your curiosity – “explore, instead of chasing, your passions.”

The key here is mindset. Some people adopt a “fixed mindset” approach instead of a “growth mindset” to life. For example, romantically, they search for “the one,” and tend to move on when faced with relationship challenges. And, individuals with fixed mindsets of intelligence believe that intelligence is a fixed talent and cannot be cultivated or nurtured through experience. A fixed mindset tends to shun the idea of exploration of what you enjoy; you should just know. (For more details, watch Carol Dweck’s TED talk.)

A fixed mindset about your career can be limited in two ways. First, it implies that your interests and talents may be narrow or specific. Once you find a path that intrigues you and brings success, you may curb or even abandon exploration of other potential interests. Second, you may expect pursuit of your one true passion to be easy — after all, this is the pathway that will provide endless drive and excitement, and will yield the greatest achievement. Consequently, instead of demonstrating resilience and perseverance in pursuit of this passion, you may fold when faced with failure or significant challenge. Any difficulty may be perceived as an indication that you are simply on the wrong path.

By contrast, individuals with a growth mindset believe that interests or passions can be cultivated through experience, investment, and struggle. There is not a single, “right” path to be discovered or revealed; instead, many different interests are viable, even simultaneously. With a growth mindset, success in one area doesn’t preclude or limit exploration of other interests, nor does difficulty signal the need to change course.

What is your mindset about your career? Are you open to exploring things that pull at your curiosity or nudge you in a new direction?  Or are you convinced that you should just keep doing the work you have in front of you because it is what you have always done?

If your career has been “fixed,” you may want to try opening up, just a “wee” bit, to see what else piques your curiosity.  Work is one-third of your life!  You should enjoy what you do. Rather than searching for one true career passion, work to understand what your interests, expertise, and tendencies are.  Your passions can be cultivated through experience, persistence, and hard work.


CALL TO ACTION:  Are you in a job you hate? Let’s brainstorm the best strategy to get you excited about your career again. Slot a complimentary 30-min consult here:  Schedule Free Consult.

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