Don’t ask, “What’s my passion?” Ask this instead (Reblog from Idealist Careers)

idealistIdealist Careers is quickly becoming one of our favorite blogs at ENGAGE! This blog is full of advice on how to find a purpose-driven career, and we recommend checking it out as soon as possible. One terrific post comes from Allison Jones and grapples with the oft-heard advice to “Follow your passion.” Check out the first part of her thought-provoking article here, and read the rest over at Idealist Careers:

Don’t ask, “What’s my passion?” Ask this instead

“Follow your passion” is a common piece of career advice and I think this is especially so in the social sector: our passion isn’t just for work, but for a cause. We want to create and see change on pressing social issues. This passion drives us to build community, to deal with the setbacks and challenges of working in this sector, and encourages us to stay in it for the long-haul.

At the same time, there are limitations to building a career around this question. It assumes passion is a single interest or destination; it ignores that sometimes the things we are passionate about aren’t necessarily the things that we want to do (or can do) for work; and it ignores the work we do entirely, in terms of the skills and talents we want to lend to our causes.

In fact, when people want to chat with me about their passions, I rarely get questions around causes—most people know what cause they are passionate about. Instead, it’s often about work: what kind of work should they be doing to advance their cause?

This makes me wonder: Should we be asking something else?

In his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore: Why Skills Trumps Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, Cal Newport asks a different question: What are you willing to get really good at?

I would take this question a bit further and ask, “What are you willing to get really good at that will contribute to your cause?”

Want to read more? Access the full article here.

Jelisa Adair

I am the Civic Engagement Fellow for 2013-2014. While a student at Wesleyan I double majored in Psychology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and completed a joint thesis during my senior year. I am interested in issues of social justice, mental health, media, and global welfare. 

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