There are many criticisms against the idea that we must follow our passion and do work we love.
All these critiques point to people who became passionate about what they did after they got good at it.
Besides, few know what they are passionate about, anyway.
On the flip side, there is good evidence to show that interests matter.
The ancient adage “do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” has been told over and over.
In a country of high unemployment, do you have the luxury of choosing work that you are passionate about or do you take whatever work that comes and use it a stepping stone to get to do work that you are passionate about?
Sometimes finding the work you love is a treasure hunt of firstly getting and doing work that you found but didn’t like and keep searching until you found the one you love, pretty much like a princess kissing frogs before finding prince charming.
On the other hand, sometimes doing work that you initially didn’t know you love, may lead you to ultimately loving it.
So where do you start?
We all gravitate toward certain kinds of work. And, it is better for us to find careers in those kinds of work.
I have experienced that myself, there are certain jobs that I intuitively feel more excited about over others.
My sense is that, over time, we will come to accept that this debate has no right answer.
Instead, like all great opposing questions, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Interests matter, but don’t let yourself get fixated on which one is the right one. Instead, once you are in the proverbial ball park, cultivate that interest, get good and create options to find exactly what you would like to do.
So, if you know you gravitate toward research, go get a Masters in something that sounds interesting to you. Over time, you will move toward the right subject in time for your P.hD.
My thesis in this debate, aside from the strong belief that the answer lies somewhere in the middle, is that our dominant strategy is to enjoy the process of doing good work, work that matters.
This is irrespective of what we choose to do.
You don’t have to love that boring excel spreadsheet task to put in your best effort.
Neither do you have to love to march to do it well. The rush from doing good work is addictive.
In time, we tend to recognise and love the process of intense preparation, sustained effort and thoughtful follow up.
The results of the work matter, but, far less than we imagine. Besides, good processes ensure good outcomes in the long run anyway.
The process of doing good work is our dominant strategy because good work opens up opportunities. And, these opportunities help us get closer and closer to what we gravitate toward.
As kids, we are told that what matters is that we gave it our best shot. That advice turns out to be incredibly wise.