I read an interesting piece today called Is ‘Follow Your Passion’ Bad Career Advice? and it gave me pause for thought.
I hear many people bemoan their jobs and wish that they could follow their ‘true passion’. But what is that? Are we sitting around waiting for our passion to ‘arrive’ or do we need to go out and ‘get it’? And how do we know what ‘it’ is anyway?
I am a passionate person. I feel and express things I believe in strongly and can become slightly addictive about the things I love to do. And over the years, I have been surprised to find some of these passions change. Strongly held opinions suddenly seem less important, replaced by some other perspective or tempered by time or a particular experience. Other times, they just drift quietly away.
One of the things I have always believed is that you get one shot at this life – and along the way, stuff happens. The good, the bad and the ugly – relationships and jobs, friends and viewpoints, and even circumstances – arrive and wipe their feet all over my metaphorical welcome mat. Some are polite and considerate, others barrel in with not much more than a cursory stomp on the threshold. And when they leave, it is with alacrity or nonchalance or something in between, leaving their impressions and their impact behind.
So the whole notion of ‘following my passion’…like a well-thought through career plan…feels a bit at odds for me.
I remember being in an organisation in my 20s, formed to promote networking amongst young Australian women embarking on their business careers. One of our founding committee members was telling me about her career plan – to be working for this organisation and to be in this and that role by such and such a time. She was so passionate and unyielding in her commitment to this plan. Part of me admired her conviction. But part of me reeled back in silent disbelief. What about life and all of its unexpected twists and turns, the anomalies it sees fit to deliver?
The article I read speaks specifically about career but for me, career is not something separate. All of the different things I do – work, play, rest, relationships, wellbeing – are intertwined, with yours truly as the common denominator. So I think the lessons quoted in the article apply to life in total. Things like making excellent mistakes, persistence trumping talent and making an imprint.
And the point that rang most truly? That there is no plan.
There is no way of knowing what will really happen so embracing uncertainty and making decisions based on our fundamental beliefs – for me, the opportunity to contribute and make a difference – is likely to stand us in better stead than all of the best laid and well-reasoned plans.
And bringing my passion to the things I do and decide often results in these very same things taking on a surprising meaning for me. So when I stop being vocal, when my passion seems a little dimmed and my natural enthusiasm is on the wane, it usually means that a change is on the way…
…and that the current plan has gone out the window.
So how about you? Do you have a plan?