Why Following Your Passion is Misleading Advice


Jump on Your Pink Unicorn and Follow Your Passion

The words “follow your passion”, typically uttered with the best intention, never cease to annoy or at least, confuse me. In my view, it’s a sweeping statement, littered with clumsy assumptions that a) we all have one pre-existing passion and, b) if we pursue our passion, we are guaranteed to love our job.

The “follow your passion” slogan is attractive because it’s both simple and daring. It tells us that we all have a calling, and if we discover it and have the courage to follow it, our working life will be fantastic. One bold move, that changes everything; this is a powerful storyline. But like most fairytales it’s totally unrealistic.

Following Your Passion is Unsupported

The issue of career satisfaction is infinitely more complex than the equation “following your passion = career satisifaction”. Most people, myself included, don’t have a pre-existing passion. Some of us, have multiple passions whilst others, haven’t yet found one. Where does that leave us? Working multiple jobs? Going on a spiritual journey to India to figure out why we are so passionless? Thankfully, not. There is little evidence to support that following your passion leads you to eternal career satisfaction. Instead, the evidence shows that career happiness is supported by a combination of nuanced reasons, a “happiness checklist”, if you like. Something much more detailed than people just loving their job just because it matches some innate interest.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t follow your passion. Passion is important. Without passion, we would be no different to computers but, I just don’t see a lot of evidence that passion is something, existing naturally in everyone, waiting to be discovered. Perhaps a better, less misleading way to communicate the due consideration one should give to passion in career matters is “cultivate your passion”. “Cultivate”, implies that you approach your work like a craftsman. Honing your ability, and then leveraging your value, once experienced, to shape your career toward the type of lifestyle that resonates with you. By simply changing “follow” to “cultivate” we don’t ignore the hard work and planning required to develop our passion into a sustainable career.

How To Cultivate Your Passion

The core principle of passion cultivation is that there is no special passion waiting for you to uncover. Rather, you develop passion while doing work that you find enjoyable and meaningful. The key is to get good at something that helps other people.

An example of the “cultivation” process would be the writer who wishes to pursue their writing talent and have total career independence.

  • They would probably start out as a content writer for a corporate.
  • Then after a few years of hard work, they find their writing niche (where they can add value to others).
  • They offer their services as a freelance writer (within their particular niche), in the evenings, to build a client base.
  • Once they develop a sustainable client base, through earned respect in the field they can become fully self-employed.

The writer, after putting in the long hours, has leveraged their talent to add value to others and in turn gained respect in their field. This “cultivation of passion” affords the writer the freedom to control their occupational destiny. Passion is a by-product of our hard work and commitment to our lifestyle preferences – not something innately within us, waiting to be discovered.








Why wellbeing will make or break your business

What is Wellbeing?

Wellbeing encompasses all the ways people think about and experience their lives. Gallup and Healthways define and measure wellbeing in terms of five elements:

  • Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
  • Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

Millennials and Wellbeing

The idea that success requires toxic stress levels and a diet of caffeine is being fundamentally, challenged. Millennials have made their demands clear – they value wellbeing over finances. GoldmanSachs in their 2017 research note that for Millennials, wellbeing is a daily, active pursuit. They’re exercising more, eating smarter and smoking less than previous generations. They’re using apps to track training data, and online information to find the healthiest foods. They are more socially conscious then ever before. According to research conducted by Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer for the Intelligence Group millennial work demands reflect the wellbeing mindset:

  • 88% prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one.
  •  74% want flexible work schedules.
  • 88% want “work-life integration,” (which isn’t the same as work-life balance, since work and life now blend together inextricably.) and finally,
  • 72% would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% of them would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor.

Millennials are, in essence, “venture consumers,” Gutfreund says. They’re not looking to fill a slot in a faceless company, any more than a good venture capitalist is looking to toss money at a faceless startup. They’re looking strategically at opportunities to invest in a place where they can make a difference, If you can provide a purpose, a career path and the ability for younger generations to blend work, with present life – then you will be in hot demand.

Why You Need Wellbeing Policies

The hard facts are that Millennials and their wellbeing demands will be 75% of the workforce in 2025. Generation Z are expected to be even more concerned about wellbeing than their predecessors. Its seriously time to reflect on whether Millennial demands are being met in your workplace. Remember, they are the job-hopping generation (60% say they are open to a different job opportunity) so if you aren’t meeting their requirements, your competitor will.

Wellbeing isn’t just a younger generation fad. It has been proven, time and time again, to directly impact business bottom lines. I write about this comprehensively here.

Finally, focusing on employee wellbeing, isn’t a bad thing. We’ve created “cities that never sleep”. Due to tech advancements we can work from anywhere, 24/7. Since the global crash, many of us tried to be robots. As a consequence we have severely impaired our health. I’ll leave you with a few stats from the UK:

  • Average cost of sickness absence each year = £1,500 per employee
  • UK annual cost of sickness from mental ill-health = £8.1 billion
  • Average number of days lost to stress, anxiety or depression = 24 days per case

Find out what your annual business cost of ill-health is here.





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