Passion matters. It keeps us motivated. But it isn’t everything, despite what we sometimes want to believe. Despite Confucius’ assertion that if you “find something you love to do, you’ll never work a day in your life”, it’s never quite that simple. Passion for your work isn’t a given — you have to earn it just like everything else.
In an interview, author and entrepreneur Ben Casnocha was asked how much passion plays a role in a good career plan. He gave the following answer:
Definitely plays a role. When you’re passionate about something, you tend to do better work, longer. The question is whether you find passion or develop it through competence. And then how you square passion with other considerations – such as your aspirations and the market realities. So, passion is key, yes, but it’s rather more complicated than many career writers would have you think. Passion without being good at it doesn’t get you very far; passion that no one will pay money for is also limited in scope. You need to weigh various factors, passion being one of them.
Ben’s answer points to a frequent catch-22: you often need to love your work to grow and get better, but it can be very difficult to love your work when you’re not very good. I often see people lose interest in something they love because they have passion, find out they aren’t good (or at least aren’t acknowledged quickly) enough, and subsequently lose that passion.
Love for work, for people, or for anything else isn’t a given. You won’t always have it. The only thing you can realistically expect in life is change. Passion is great when you have it, but when you don’t you have to remember the time when you did. Pushing through the hard parts and learning to be better is what helps you grow more competent in your work and get that passion back. Choosing something you love shouldn’t be so much about looking for a good feeling, but more about how you handle the bad ones.
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