“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
- Mark Twain
The concept of finding ‘fulfilling’ work has exploded over recent years. With an increasingly connected world and more people sharing how they’ve managed to curate the work-life balance of their dreams, it’s no wonder more of us are sitting down to reflect on how work fits into our lives.
Ideas around work are continually changing. From entrepreneurs, start-ups, portfolio careerists, and the more traditional pathways still holding strong, getting started with your career and what you want to do with your life has never been more complex.
We’re told to ‘follow our passions’ in order to start building the type of career that brings us meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. On the surface, this is good advice: doing the things you’re passionate about can only lead to more good, right?
Well, not necessarily.
Psychologists at Stanford and Yale-NUS College examined theories of interest, specifically fixed theory (our passions are inherent and hidden within us) and growth theory (passions are something to be developed and nurtured over time). Over the course of five individual studies with the same participants, they found those who tested positive as being fixed theory inclined developed less and less interest in articles and media that weren’t linked to their designated interest.
Lead researcher, Paul O’Keefe, advises on the implications of the results:
“Telling people to find their passion could suggest that it’s within you just waiting to be revealed. Telling people to follow their passion suggests passion will do the lion’s share of the work for you. A growth mindset makes people more open to new and different interests and sustains those interests when pursuing them becomes difficult.”