Don’t follow your passion, foster it


We’ve all heard it before. Follow your passion and everything will fall into place. But what happens if you don’t know what your passion is? Suddenly you find yourself spinning out of control, desperate to find your passion - the elusive key to happiness and success.

So what happens if you haven’t found your passion? Or you followed your passion, only to find out it’s not right for you?

I’m currently listening to Grit by Angela Duckworth on Audible, which explores how passion and perseverance - or “gritiness” - is the key to success. When I got to the chapter on finding your passion, I sat up and took notice.

When I was looking to change careers, everyone told me to simply follow my passion... like that was an easy thing to do! I was curious to know if Angela had some advice that would have saved me a lot of tears a few years ago.

I learned that, for most of us, it’s not as easy as simply following our passion. If you are feeling stuck too, here’s Angela’s advice.

Don’t follow your passion, nurture it

If you don’t know what your passion is, or think that your passion might have changed, don’t stress. Passions aren’t discovered, they are nurtured.

To nurture your passion, think about your interests. Angela points to Julia Child as an example of following your interests and nurturing your passion. As a child, Julia’s family always had a cook. She showed no interest in cooking, and graduated from college and became a copywriter. Years later, Julia fell in love with French cuisine after a delicious and memorable meal in Paris. Her interest motivated her to go to cooking school, with this interest ultimately developing into a passion for French cuisine.

Try new things. Explore old interests. Discover what sticks and dismiss what doesn’t.

Do the hard thing

Finding your passion isn’t always easy, and according to Angela’s research - it shouldn’t be.

Doing things that we feel are hard, is a key part of learning what we like and what we don’t like. In fact, being hard isn’t a bad thing; in fact, doing hard things forces us to practice and get better. If we fail, we can learn from the failure and move on. But in the meantime, we are making important progress to finding our passion and getting more gritty.

Don’t expect that your passion will always be a walk in the park. Finding your passion can involve hours, maybe years of hard work and dedication. Don’t be afraid of hard work.

Seek purpose

If you are still searching for your passion, try reframing the question. Instead of simply asking “what is my passion”, try thinking about what you would like to change in the world?

Your self interest and altruistic intentions do not have to be mutually exclusive. Think about what you would like to be remembered for. Write it down. Break it down into top level and supporting goals and start working towards it.

Following your passion is a lovely, romantic notion… but if you were like me, and didn’t know what you are passionate about, it can lead to disillusionment and frustration. These are just a few of the great tips in Grit.

I’m really enjoying listening to Grit on my commute - it’s full of interesting insights, case studies and tips. If you are interested in learning how to be more gritty, check back in soon for some more tips!