Nowadays there is a lot of talk about finding your passion. Finding your passion is sold to us as the key to having a clear sense of direction. As the key to living a meaningful and successful life,
This call can come in many forms: you need to have a clear passion in order to become a group leader, you need to have a real passion to make it in academia, you need to have a real passion in order to…..
For those of us who do not know what their passion is, the call to find your passion is a way to feel blocked, to feel insecure, to feel you are lacking something crucial which prevents you from having a really meaningful and successful life.
I think the call to find your passion as the prerequisite for being successful and living a meaningful life is a myth! And it is a dangerous myth! This myth is keeping a lot of people from making the difference they can make, it’s keeping a lot of people in jobs that no longer suit them, its keeping people stuck, it’s keeping a lot of people from taking steps that would bring them closer to their dreams.
Myth: you can have only one calling or passion
One of the myths around the call to find your passion is the implicit idea that that you can only have one calling or passion in your life. This implicit idea becomes visible in the way we talk about it.
We talk about finding your calling or your passion. As a singular, clearly defined something. You don’t get asked : “What are your callings? ”, “How to find your callings?” or “What are your passions”? In our language there is the implicit idea that you can have only one calling or passion in your life.
Don’t get me wrong, some people will have one clear calling or passion that guides them throughout their lives. But for many people this is not the case. Many people will have smaller and bigger passions in their lives, that change over time or get replaced by different passions or callings. When those of us who have multiple callings or passions look back on their lives we might see a common theme in retrospect. And maybe not. And that is ok as well.
Specialists and generalists
You can compare it to the difference between specialists and generalists in an organisation. A specialist really gets enthusiastic about developing her or himself in one specific area, to deeply dive into things. That is their strength! But not all of us are specialists. Moreover, organisations or a world only populated by specialists would not function at all! Because we also need generalists, people who get enthusiastic about doing lots of different things, developing themselves broadly. People who develop a broad perspective and are able to make connections between different areas and are able to look at a topic or problem from many different angels. Something a specialist cannot do.
And I actually think there is a third category as well. What I call serial specialists. People who love to dive deeply into one topic or area for some time. Then letting go of this topic and deep dive into a new topic or area and become a specialist in that new area as well.
Scientists often have a huge hunger and love for learning, and that is why they did a PhD. Not because they wanted to become a specialist. Moreover many scientists have a really broad interest and love to dive into many different topics.
Having just one calling or passion in your life is a really limiting, restrictive myth, that only will be true for some people.
And there are more myths around finding your passion that can stand in the way of you doing work you love and making a meaningful contribution. (To learn more about these other myths- watch my free video training).
So don’t wait to take steps until you have found one clear passion for the rest of your life. Take action now!!
If you let go of the idea that you have to have one all-encompassing passion. And instead ask yourself: what are you curious about? What ideas come up about what you would love to learn more about, what you would love to do (more off)? Nothing is too small or seemingly insignificant. Trust your curiosity. If you were to follow that curiosity, that thing you want learn/do more off/ experiment with, what small step can you take tomorrow to honour that curiosity?