How to find satisfaction in your work without following your passion?
Why do some people end up loving what they do, why so many do not reach this goal? Someone told you that the secret of happiness and success was to “follow your passion” without measuring the consequences.
Cal Newport, a professor at Georgetown University, asked the question and wrote “So Good They Cannot Ignore You,” a book in which he explains that to have a good job that matches your passions, it’s worth better be excellent and learn to love what you do.
This kind of dissertation is not within everyone’s reach, but if you think that “following your passion” can be bad advice and that you are looking for a more pragmatic approach to being satisfied in your professional life, then read on.
Why everyone can not follow his passion
People who live off their passion are rare
In 2002, a research team specifically designed a questionnaire for Canadian students to answer two important questions: Do these students have passions? And if so, what are they?
Of the 539 surveyed, 84% have a passion. The top five: dance, hockey, skiing, reading, and swimming. Only 4% of total passions identified had a relationship with work or studies, the remaining 96% describing hobbies such as sport or art.
The real passion that coincides with the professional possibilities is extremely rare. The majority of these students will have to change their strategy to get a job. How can we follow our passions if we do not have relevant passions to follow?
Passion is a guide that can make you unhappy
To pay too much attention to your passion for your work makes you perfectly aware of all that you do not like in your job, which leads you to a chronic misfortune. In the first positions, you will not have interesting projects and be autonomous right away – it will come later.
Passion leads you to ask deep questions like “Who am I? And “What do I really appreciate? Which rarely translate into clear answers. In other words, passion is a vicious circle that keeps you unhappy and confused because you aspire to your well-being.
The passion hypothesis
This assumption states that the key to happiness at work is first to find what you are passionate about and then find a job that fits that passion. If you do not succeed, bad things happen self-doubt, dissatisfaction, and frustration.
For Newport, the passion hypothesis is both false and potentially dangerous. Saying someone “follows your passion” is not just an act of innocent optimism but can paralyze someone’s career through confusion and anguish.
The world of work cannot meet the demands of all. This constraint is causing more and more jobseekers to find themselves in jobs where they are dissatisfied. As a result, job satisfaction has declined. Following your passion is not necessarily a guarantee of happiness.
Without the passion for guiding us, what can you do instead?
Learn to love what you do
The more experience you have, the more you can take advantage of your work as a vocation. Having mastery makes you more likely to become passionate.
The theory of self-determination demonstrates this by identifying three basic factors required to generate deep motivation and job satisfaction.
Autonomy: the feeling that you have control during your day, and that your actions are necessary.
Competence: the feeling that you are an excellent at what you do.
Attachment: the feeling of connection you have with other people.
Being autonomous and competent means completing a master’s degree in your field. For this, no need for passion, only the willingness to work hard to acquire this mastery. As for attachment, excellence will always attract people who will respect your work.
The importance of skills: adopt the craftsman mindset
Practice hard and come out of your comfort zone
The craftsman mindset focuses on the value you produce in your work while the passion focuses on the value your work brings you.
This state of mind offers clarity. He is liberating because he asks you to leave the questions unanswered. Instead, it drives you to do well, and professional success is always a matter of quality.
Newport suggests that it’s better to be good at what you do than to wonder if this is your true calling. It is changing the perspective of passion (“What can the world offer me?”) By the craftsman (What can I offer to the world?). By adopting this state of mind, passion will follow.
Decide what kind of market you are competent
Work is not a right, but a very competitive market with two types: the winner-take-all and the auction.
The winner-take-all (“the winner wins all”) market, there is only one rule, quality, and so many people compete. For example, to write for television, all that matters is your ability to write good texts.
In an auction market, it’s less structured and more flexible. There are vacancies in different markets, and each person can claim according to his or her relevant skills. For example, the field of renewable energies or entrepreneurship is one of them.
Three disqualifying elements to apply the craftsman mindset
The job presents few opportunities to distinguish yourself by developing skills that are rare and valuable.
The job emphasizes on something you think is bad or useless for the world.
The job forces you to work with people you hate.
If you do not find any reluctance, it’s a good sign.
Acquire rare and valuable skills to have a good job
People with rare skills are most likely to have excellent trades where they can be creative and have control over what they do. Newport calls these skills “career capital,” and the more you have, the more you stand out from others. It’s a kind of currency to create the work you love.
The mindset craftsman allows you to acquire these career assets through practice: determining where you are good, practicing intensely by always progressing, having constant expert feedback, and ritualizing one’s practice.
Have control and autonomy in your work
This is one of the biggest benefits you can gain when you create the work you love, but there are two big pitfalls: outrageous ambition and promotion.
The first trap is that it is risky to try to have more control without having enough credibility to claim it. You have to prove your competence and your mastery. Otherwise, the others will never let you have control in your work.
The second trap is the temptation to give up the control gained at work in exchange for a promotion with new responsibilities with which you are unfamiliar. Without career capital, you will never have control in your work.
A motivating mission can be a source of good satisfaction
Missions are powerful because they focus your energy toward a useful goal. People who feel that their career is meaningful are more satisfied in their working lives, and they are better, even if their job is stressful.
For a mission to succeed, the ultimate goal must be remarkable. It has to force people to talk about it, and it has to be published in a place where they can do it.
A good mission is similar to scientific discovery, an innovation in the adjacent possible – the space that contains all the discoveries waiting to be made by science and current technology (e.g., autonomous car).
Whatever field you are in, you have to be at the forefront to identify what is missing, find an exhilarating mission and innovate. If your interests are scattered, you will develop superficial skills and will never be able to achieve this Grail.
While missions are not always a good starting point, they usually come by themselves when you gain rare and valuable skills.