PART 1: YOUR PASSION FOR DESIGN: Is It Necessary To Have A Passion?
Can You Really Follow A Passion?
Is it necessary to have a passion?
Sometimes I get so sick and tired of this question. I get perplexed. What does it really mean? What are people really telling me when they say I should follow my passion?
What job or career or avocation should I pursue? Do I have an intense interest in anything? Does anything drive me? Motivate me? Capture my undivided attention? What do I wish I would have done? Or should have done? Or could have done? Is something to do with design the answer? Passion! That word is spoken so often.
Follow your passion! Follow your passion! Follow your passion!
You get told this over and over again so many times that you begin to question whether anyone has ever really been successful, or even been substantially motivated, to follow their passions. Especially those people who tell you to do so — surely, they have not actually found their passion. It seems so hard to find. A good goal, but let’s get real. Insurmountable. There are lots of things I like and get very enthusiastic about, but I can’t say I’m passionate about them. And you can’t forget you have to earn a living, whether you are passionate about what you do or not.
You hear and read about finding your passion, so much so, that you feel if you haven’t found yours, something must be wrong with you. And, certainly you think no one else has, either. The pressure, the pressure. Why is it so important to my family and friends and my inner still voice that I be passionate about something?
Their admonitions take different tones, from command, to pleading, to expressing concern and sorrow, to lowering their expectations for you. You see / feel/ know what they are really trying to say to you — sympathy, empathy, pity — by those variations on the memes they throw at you.
You don’t have to make a decision about a career until you find your passion!
Don’t worry, you’ll find something to be passionate about!
Not everyone finds their passion.
You begin to feel like a failure in life for not finding your passion. Or that so-and-so you went to school with found theirs… and you didn’t.
The only way to stave all these folks off is to get a job that makes a lot of money. Pursuing money apparently is seen as a legitimate substitute for following your passion.
And that’s what I did.
For almost 40 years.
I pursued money.
Until I found my passion.
My passion for design.
Specifically, jewelry design.
What Is Passion?
Passion, I have discovered over many years in the design world, is something key to a more fulfilling and successful career.
Passion makes sense for design.
Passion is an emotion.
Passion provides the fuel firing you to action.
Almost in spite of yourself.
Passion is often equated with determination, motivation, and conviction — all moving you in a particular direction. But these do not adequately capture what passion is all about. Passion challenges you. It is intriguing. It provides the principle around which you organize your life.
Passion is something more than a strong interest. Passion is a bit more energetic, directional. And when you want to change direction, emotionally, passion makes this very difficult. Passion is simultaneously a response somewhat divorced from any reason, but in the service of reason, as well. Once you have it, passion can be very sticky and hard to shake off.
Passion puts you to work. It helps you overcome those times when you get frustrated. Or bored. Or anxious.
Passion reveals what you are willing to sacrifice other pleasures for.
Passion is what helps you overcome those times when you get frustrated when something isn’t working out exactly as you want, or when you are anxious about your ability to do something, or you get bored with what you are trying to do at the moment.
But passion is somewhat amorphous. Intangible. Not something solid enough or clear enough to grab and grip and get ahold of.
Is it Necessary To Have A Passion For Design?
In high school, I decided that my passion would be archaeology. I read books and articles about Middle East history and settlement patterns. I loved the idea of traveling. I loved history. I selected a college that had an excellent and extensive archaeology program.
That first fall semester, I took two archaeology classes. In one of these classes, week after week for 18 weeks, I sat through the examinations and resultant reports looking at the remains of a small grouping of houses in Iran. I saw the partial remains of some walls. An area the remains of which suggested it was a kitchen. And lots of dust and dirt and not much else.
The archaeological reports were each done by teams from different countries. From the scant evidence, the Russian report found the settlement to be communal and socialist. They based their conclusions on the positioning of the walls, the proximity of the kitchen area to the walls, and the remains mostly consisting of chicken bones. The German report found the settlement to be more democratic but still communal. Their evidence was based on the positioning of the walls, the proximity of the kitchen area to the walls, and the remains mostly consisting of chicken bones. And the American report found the settlement to be an early example of democracy and capitalism. Their evidence — can you guess? — was based on the positioning of the walls, the proximity of the kitchen area to the walls, and the remains mostly consisting of chicken bones.
I made a discovery in myself and about myself that first semester of college. Archaeology was not my passion. I changed majors. But still no passion.
I still yearned to be passionate about something, however. A goal. A Task. An activity. A career. Anything. My search took almost another 20 years.
Not having a passion did not affect my ability to work and do my job. But I felt some distance from it. Some disconnection. Something missing and less satisfying.
While it took me a long time to find my passion, for others it happens very quickly. You never know. In either case, passion is not something that falls down from the sky and hits you on the head. It is something that has to be pursued, developed and cultivated over time.
Pursuing your passion has many advantages. When you are passionate about something, you can more easily accomplish things which are difficult and hard. Your work and job and life feel more fulfilling. You feel you are impacting the world around you.
A passion for design enables you to become the best designer you can be. It builds within you a more stick-to-it-iveness, while you develop yourself as a designer over many years, and learn the intricacies of your trade and profession. Having a passion for design is a necessity if you are to come to an understanding of yourself as a professional practicing a discipline.
Passion gives us purpose. It attaches a feeling to our thoughts, intensifying our emotions. It is transformative. Empowering. Passion allows us to realize a vision within any context we find ourselves.
A passion for design allows us to navigate those tensions between the pursuit of beauty and the pursuit of functionality. It allows us to incorporate the opinions and desires of our clients into our own design work, without sacrificing our identities and integrities as designers. In a sense, it allows our design choices to reaffirm our ideas and concepts, tempering them with the needs, desires, and understandings of our client and the client’s various audiences. It allows us, through our design decisions, to manage the vagaries in any situation and, ultimately, to get the professional recognition we seek. However, most of us — including and especially me — have not known how to pursue our passions. And we fail to do so.
Not only should we have to pursue a passion for meaningful work, but we must incorporate our passion into our everyday lives. Passion is not just about ourselves. Passion affects our friends and families and work mates. They suffer or benefit (or both) from our driven selves. Passion affects how we utilize our time. It affects how we see the world, define problems and anticipate solutions.
Passion can be a bitch, and it must be managed. Otherwise, without some ongoing management and a bit of reflection and skepticism, passion can have the opposite effect from what we desire in life. Poorly managed and integrated into our lives, passion can lead to less happiness, less satisfaction, less contentment and less personal growth. In spite of all this, having passion for what you do will result in many more positives than negatives in your design work.
Pursing our passion requires that we bring on our journey these four understandings:
(1) Passion is not innate to the individual. Passion must be developed.
(2) It is not easy to take this journey to find your passion, especially as it gets drawn out over a long period of time.
(3) Passion makes it easier to mediate and sustain our pathways through our interactions at work and through life.
(4) Passion can lead us astray, blinding us to its limits.
While it is not necessary to have found your passion in order to be a good and successful designer, developing your passion for design can be very beneficial and worth the effort. With passion comes greater satisfaction, self-affirmation, creativity and motivation. With passion comes a greater ability to gain acceptance from clients about what your designs mean and can do for them. People are not born with passions. They find them, often in a round-about, circuitous way over a period of time. Once found, they need to be developed, cultivated and managed. And you don’t want to get overwhelmed by your passions to the detriment of balance in your personal and work lives.
PART 1: Is It Necessary To Have A Passion?
PART 2: Do You Have To Be Passionate To Be Creative?
PART 3: How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?
Chen, Robert. “The Real Meaning of Passion,” Embrace Possibility, March, 2015.
As referenced: https://www.embracepossibility.com/blog/real-meaning-passion/
Financial Mechanic. “Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Advice,” Published: 05 July
2019 — Updated: 23 February 2020
As referenced: https://www.getrichslowly.org/follow-your-passion-is-bad-advice/#:~:text=They%20found%20that%20people%20who,interest%20if%20it%20becomes%20difficult.
Fisher, Christian. “How To Define Your Passion In Life,” Chron (Houston
As referenced: https://work.chron.com/define-passion-life-10132.html
Hill, Maria. “Are Passion and Creativity The Same Thing?” Sensitive Evolution,
As referenced: https://sensitiveevolution.com/passion-and-creativity/
Hudson, Paul. “10 Things That Truly Passionate People Do Differently,” Elite Daily,
April 9, 2014.
As referenced: https://www.elitedaily.com/money/entrepreneurship/10-things-that-truly-passionate-people-do-differently
Jachimowicz, Jon M. “3 Reasons It’s So Hard To ‘Follow Your Pasion’”, Harvard
Business Review, October 15, 2019
As referenced: https://hbr.org/2019/10/3-reasons-its-so-hard-to-follow-your-passion
Koloc, Nathanial. “Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Pretty Bad Advice,” Hot Jobs On
As referenced: https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-follow-your-passion-is-pretty-bad-advice
Millburn, Joshua Fields. “’Follow Your Passion’ Is Crappy Advice,” The
As referenced: https://www.theminimalists.com/cal/
Pringle, Zorana Ivcevic. “Creativity Runs On Passion,” Psychology Today, 10/2019.
As referenced: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creativity-the-art-and-science/201910/creativity-runs-passion
Robbins, Kyle. “15 Things Truly Passionate People Do Differently,” Lifehack, 2018.
As referenced: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-things-truly-passionate-people-differently.html
Thompson, Braden. “What Is Passion and What It Means To Have Passion,”
As referenced: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/what-means-have-passion.html
Unger, Roberto Mangabeira. Passion: An Essay On Personality. NY: The Free
Book downloadable: http://www.robertounger.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/passion-an-essay-on-personality.pdf
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Other related articles of interest by Warren Feld:
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