A heartfelt response to The Secrets To Career Contentment: Don’t Follow Your Passion article featured on Fast Company.

No Thanks, Fast Company

Fast Company recently featured an article offering an opposing view to the career mantra “follow your passion”, instead suggesting that we should strive for contentment in our careers. I don’t know about you, but I’m not signing up for that. And it appears that more than few of the Fast Company readers agree with me:

In a world where people spend their entire lives as insignificant cogs in somebody else’s success story, the last thing we need to tell them is to not follow their passion.Babar Suleman
..the answer is often to keep trying and discovering different things, NOT staying at a boring job for years and forcing themselves to be ‘practically passionate’ about paperwork.Leanne Li

It’s disheartening that we’ve been socialized to believe that being content with our careers is enough. The average person spends over 90,000 hours at work over the course of their lifetime (Psychology Today). Who wants to waste that many hours simply being content?

With over 86% of Americans working more than 40 hours per week there isn’t any “spare” time to follow our passion outside of the workplace (United Nations Study). While I strive to achieve a work life balance, like many of you, I often fall short. On top of that, doing work that you aren’t passionate about is draining – it sucks the life out of you. So even if you had time, you wouldn’t have the energy. If this is our present day reality, then we need a new solution.

A New Solution

For me, the solution starts with how we define passion. There seems to be confusion between passion and purpose, as illustrated by the writer’s response to comments on the article:

…passion is important, but not everybody should aim at making their passion what pays the bills. (Even though it would be pretty great to be paid for drinking beer or watching football games.)Sebastian Klein, Fast Company Contributor

No wonder people are disappointed by their careers! If you’re looking for a career that you can compare to drinking beer or watching tv, then perhaps you should follow the advice outlined in the article and strive for contentment. But I’m going to put my faith in humanity that it’s small minority who feel that way. The way I see it: Passion is about the things you love to do, that you enjoyment from. Purpose is what you are called to do with every fiber of your being.

Purpose is a short list; passion on the other hand is quite lengthy. Here’s a personal example to get your wheels churning:

My Passions

✓ The Outdoors
✓ Skiing (anything to do with the snow really)
✓ Local Food
✓ Gardening
✓ Cooking
✓ Creative Problem Solving
✓ Collaboration
✓ Brainstorming

My Purpose

✓ Empower twenty-somethings to create new possibilities for themselves in support of the change they want to see in the world.

Now it’s highly unlikely that your purpose will be served up on a silver platter or come neatly packaged with a bow around it. You have to invest your time and most importantly yourself, to uncover it.

How do you uncover your purpose? I’ll be honest. It takes time, patience and some deep soul-searching. While I don’t want to minimize the process, here are three questions to get you headed in the right direction:

What are you called to do in your heart?
How do you see yourself making the world a better place?
What challenge or opportunity can you no longer leave unanswered?

Don’t be surprised if your purpose changes over time. Like Mother Nature it’s in a constant state of evolution. Once you’ve found your purpose, you’ll likely be surprised at how the universe answers – seamlessly weaving your purpose and passion together.

I believe its a law of nature, when you love something, and are passionate about it, the whole world gets together with its positive vibes, to ensure you get it.Goldy Arora in response to the Fast Company article

Start With Purpose

If we start with purpose, our passion will naturally follow. Instead of asking, “what am I passionate about?” we need to ask, “what is the personal difference I want to make in the world?”

Your passion alone isn’t going to magically pay the bills. But if you build a life and career of purpose, you’ll be much closer to creating a livelihood that integrates your passion, provides financial security and makes a difference!

Image Source [Flickr User] CCBImages

About the Author

Lindsay Fahey

Lindsay Fahey As Equity Partner of the Center for Nature and Leadership, I am committed to inspiring and supporting fellow twenty-somethings in bringing forth the change they want to see in the world. Pushing beyond my own limitations, I created new possibilities for myself and left a successful corporate career as a Brand Strategist to build a life of purpose and impact. Following the completion of my Sustainability MBA in 2012, I could no longer live with a career that was in conflict with my values and passions. It is my hope that I what I learned at 30, others can learn at the age of 20. View all posts by Lindsay Fahey

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