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  • Writer's pictureNeal Sardana

Why "Follow Your Passion" Is Not Good Career Advice

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Odds are you have heard the phrase "follow your passion" as a piece of career advice. The advice sounds easy and harmless enough, just find what you love and do it. Often times parents give their kids this advice as a way not put pressure on them to go into a career path that they do not love. It can be empowering to be given this freedom to pursue what you want without judgement. However many clients I see often talk about how this messaging raises their anxiety level and leaves them feeling lost. Why is that?

Incomplete Advice: The phrase "follow your passion" does not give a road map on how to find out what you love. It overlooks the complex process of self exploration, trying things out, learning from failure, being flexible, and taking advantage of unplanned events.

Decision Making Fatigue: Clients I work with talk about how there is pressure to figure out the one thing they love amidst many options. Additionally college students feel like whatever they major in is what they will be doing for the next forty years. They wonder "what will happen if I make the wrong choice?" This leads to what I call "decision making fatigue". It is where you are so overwhelmed by options that it is hard to take action.

Passion is Not a Fixed Entity: I talked about the pressure that many individuals feel to find what their 'true' passion is. The truth is we have many jobs and passions over a lifetime. The Bureau of Labor Statistics show that a person has an average of 12-14 paid jobs until the age of 40. These jobs occur over several fields. This number does not account for the unpaid work and activities that we do. As individuals we grow and change. The things that gave us a sense of purpose at 18 may be different at 25 and at 40. Giving yourself permission to learn, grow, explore, and make changes based on the person you are today is one of the key ingredients in achieving authentic career wellness.

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