When It Comes to Passion, Some Assembly May Be Required

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BetterUp Studios

6 min

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Just about everyone has been told at one time in their life that it is important to find your passion, then pursue it. Phrases like “if you pursue something you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life” are incredibly common among teachers and counselors.

However, thought leader and Stanford professor Carol Dweck suggests otherwise. Rather than approach passions as things that are “found,” she claims that passions are actually developed.

Dweck isn’t just hair-splitting over terminology. If you think of a passion as something you “find,” you probably think of it as something innate and intrinsic. You’re just looking for that missing puzzle piece to complete your life. Dweck has found that people who hold this belief are less interested in things outside what they perceive to be their areas of expertise.

Conversely, people who gravitate toward the belief that your talents can be cultivated exhibit more open mindedness. Since passions really can develop, people who view them as malleable experience countless rewards for their persistence and exploration.

Fortunately, everyone has the power to change their mindset.

Here are a few things you can do to shift your perspective towards growth:

1. Don’t give up too easily.

If you believe that your passions and interests are inherent, then you’ll probably give up when a new task becomes too challenging because it’s just not something you’re naturally good at. Conversely, for people who believe that their abilities can be refined, challenges are more likely to motivate them rather than defeat them. So don’t be too quick to throw in the towel.

2. Don’t shy away from new interests because of your age.

People who believe that passions are innate tend to give up on discovering new interests the older they get. However, it is possible to cultivate new passions at any age. One example of this is parenthood: adults are faced with a new task that they have likely never encountered, but quickly become knowledgeable about how to raise children.

So, continue to explore new things and remember that developing your passions is a long game.

3. Nurture a passion to make your work more fulfilling.

Most people who believe their passions are fixed either jump from career to career searching for that magical job that will be a perfect fit, or stay locked in their current job because they feel that’s the best they can do. If you ask yourself how you can develop new passions, new possibilities will open up both within your current career and outside it.

The change to your lifestyle and mindset may be subtle. You probably won’t take up the saxophone tomorrow out of the blue. But keeping these ideas in mind will help you slowly shift your mindset to one that is more open, exploratory, and unafraid of challenges.

BetterUp Studios
BetterUp Studios creates and curates research-backed content, activities, and tools to help people everywhere pursue their lives with greater clarity, purpose, and passion.

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