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Don’t Follow Your Passion

A series of questions for thinking about your career

The U.S. Census Bureau defines millennials as people born between 1982 and 2000. They are 83.1 million strong and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. They are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce and like those in every generation before them, they strive for a life well-lived. Yet millennials also have the highest rates of unemployment and underemployment in the U.S., and only 29% of employed millennials are engaged at work.

Motivation has been tied to passion in many career advice sources. However, the well worn phrase to “follow your passion” usually left me feeling confused.

What do you do if you don’t know what your passion is? What if you’re just starting out, early on in your career? What if you’ve been doing the same thing for awhile and don’t know where to start? Furthermore, I have to question whether passion itself is necessary for giving us the right perspective on our work.

Here’s a series of questions that are meant to prompt self exploration for anyone looking to evaluate their careers:

What can you contribute that no one else can?
What makes you curious?
How can you help others?
What would you like to have mastery over?
What do you do that makes you lose track of time?
What problem would you like to solve?
Does your daily work align with your long term goals?
Do you have the opportunity to expand on the job duties and responsibilities you were hired to perform?
Does your manager allow you to determine how to best to do your job?
Does your manager communicate clear goals for your team?
Do you regularly receive actionable feedback that helps you improve your performance?
What part of the working process do you enjoy?
What part of working makes you satisfied?

For most of us, a career will take up somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 hours. So no matter which career you choose, it’s worthwhile to determine how to best use your time in a meaningful way.

Thanks for reading!