Forget about “passion”
A highly dubious but widespread piece of advice (especially as it relates to creative fields) is to “follow your passion”.
This means you make a decision (ahead of putting in any serious time or effort) about what will creatively satisfy you in the long run.
But anyone who has tried to find their passion has only found disappointment, because we can’t just impose such a decision on ourselves and expect creativity to flourish in that direction.
We start passion projects thinking they will be fulfilling, exciting and meaningful but quickly get disillusioned when these projects turn out to be difficult, tedious and a drain on our energy. Yet we refuse to give up the “passion” idea – we just haven’t found our calling yet!
Rinse and repeat.
Over the long term, the search for passion wastes years of our lives. When we could have put in serious effort into developing a craft, we skipped around from one passion to the next.
Passion, to paraphrase Cal Newport, is the result of engaging in difficult but rewarding work.
It’s better to start small. When we don’t impose some grandiose vision on our work, we not only lessen the pressure to hurry up and find our passion already but we also remain open to the mistakes and the happy accidents that occur along the way. These unexpected occurences are micro-adjustments that put us on a path that gets more and more tailored to our particular set of skills and experiences. That’s how we find our creative niche. This is the process I teach in the Unconventional Freelancer.
Do you agree? What’s been your experience with finding passion in your work? Reply with your thoughts and we can continue the dialogue in a future email.
Also – before I forget – I’ve been enjoying David Epstein’s new book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. Being someone with a gazillion interests, I’ve always felt the pressure to specialize and this book provides a ton of validation for why not drilling so deep into any one domain might be the right response for the crazy-fast world we live in.
I’m transferring my notes from the book right now and will be doing an in-depth dive in a future email. Stay tuned!