Follow your passion, or not?

High Line, NYC
Much popular career advice comes with tag-lines like "follow your passion" and "do what you love, love what you do"  and so on.  I love thinking about these things. The things I love and that I'm passionate about. Things like looking at fashion and interior design photos on Pinterest and researching and eating at the the best most innovative restaurants in Singapore and doing some virtual and sometimes real shopping on Net-a-Porter. I'm also passionate about stupid expensive handbags and attempting to become a runner.

In addition I like photography and yoga and am managing to combine these by attending a workshop in a couple of weeks in Queenstown New Zealand. I like travel too and we are heading to Switzerland for Christmas and then Paris after that, well because travel is fun and because we can. And apart from fantasising about becoming a fashion blogger every couple of weeks, well I usually like my day job.

Arran lives and breathes riding bikes while he is not working in risk management in large banks. If he isn't riding a bike, he is planning a ride or watching videos about riding or choosing a new bike to ride or selling a bike so he can buy another bike without getting in too much trouble.

So all this is very well isn't it? So why don't we live our passion and do these things for a job? Well to start with I like having a roof over my head and money in my wallet, and while people do do all these things to make money, I'm just not sure I want to. I once went to an event at the Chanel store in Sydney. I was so excited to learn about fashion and all the excitement and meet other people also interested in fashion, but to tell the truth it was all a little hollow. Some of the attendees were more interested in checking themselves out in the mirrors than talking to me about all the pretty things.

Well a few weeks ago Dr Jason Fox who is all about making clever happen, posted a link to this article The Many, Many Problems With "Follow Your Passion" It's a good read and true I think. The point of the article is to find work that is not necessarily your passion, but something that you can become engaged in.

Taken directly from the article by William Macaskill engaging work has the following aspects which seems to make sense to me:

  • Independence: How much control do you have over how you go about your work?
  • Sense of completion: How much does the job involve completing whole pieces of work so that your contribution to the end product is easily visible?
  • Variety: How far does the job require you to perform a range of different activities, using different skills and talents?
  • Feedback from the job: How easy is it to know whether you’re performing well or badly?
  • Contribution: How much does your work “make a difference,” improving the well-being of other people?
So if you are not enjoying your work, which of these items are you missing? Would love to hear from you.