‘Follow your passion’ is the worst career advice – Here’s why
It’s a cliché as old as time: When it comes to your career, people often say to “follow your passion.”
While this slogan is splashed across self-help books, heard in graduation speeches, and even touted by career coaches, it may not be very sound advice.
Ultimately, this message could be holding you back in your future career.
According to three Stanford researchers’ findings, the “follow your passion” advice can be detrimental to an individual’s success due to narrowmindedness and dedication to a single passion.
Here’s why “follow your passion” is the bad career advice:
- It assumes we will only have one passion in life. People are dynamic and have more than one specific life interest. It can be limited to select merely one passion, as it leaves zero space for other passions yet to be uncovered.
2. It assumes passions don’t change with time. Humans continually evolve in every stage of our lives. What we once loved may now be a fond (or not so fond) memory. We are in constant flux and that means our passions are likely to be too.
3. It assumes we already know what our passion is. Many people are not able to confidently state a specific passion and how it can tie to a career. If this is you, you’re not alone. Most people need time, education, and exposure to different jobs and companies before they’re able to hone in on a passion. Not knowing your passion can be a source of tremendous stress and anxiety. For those who have yet to find it, this advice can make us think there’s something innately wrong with us (there isn’t).
4. It gives the impression that passion should come with ease, organically, or a magical “dream job” is waiting in the wings. When looking for a career, it is helpful to be aware of your strengths and the things that come more easily to you. You may then consider the types of professional positions where you can utilize those skills. But if you don’t know your strengths yet, it’s okay to try different things and see what makes you happiest. Passions should be developed in their own right, not chased after.
5. Just because you have a passion for something, doesn’t mean that you are good at it. American talent shows are a great example of this concept. If you aren’t good at your chosen passion, you’re unlikely to rise quickly in the professional rankings. In the long run, you may ultimately be hindering yourself.
6. Once you shift your life’s passion into a job, it becomes just that, a task you must do. If you’re doing something habitually and for monetary gain, your passion may lose the luster it once held. A passion can be a hobby instead of a profession.
7. It’s a privileged message not afforded to all. Perhaps money is not a necessity for you. However, for a vast majority of the working force, money drives what profession you choose until you can establish yourself enough to make alternative decisions. Focus on what you deem valuable in the present, such as remote work, unlimited paid time off, flexible hours, etc. Through these benefits, you may be able to free up some time for your passions on the side.