If you’re on the brink of adulthood, you’re probably hearing a lot of people say that you’ll know what you want to do for a living when you “find your passion.” It turns out they might have this just a bit wrong.
They’ve got the “passion” part right. But, new studies suggest that you might be searching for something that doesn’t exist yet. Instead, it’s a better idea to develop your passion. Here’s why.
Paul O’Keefe, a Yale professor, teamed up with Carol Dweck and Greg Walton from Stanford University, to investigate why some people succeed at pursuing interests – while other’s fail. They discovered that our mindset makes us interpret challenges in different ways, depending on how we view our own intelligence. That’s a complicated statement, so let’s break it down.
Some people believe that their intelligence is fixed. You may add more information, but your ability to increase your intelligence is limited. Others believe that intelligence is malleable. If you put in effort, you’re able to increase your intelligence – or become a smarter person.
“Find” Versus “Develop”
Based on a series of studies, this trio of professors concluded that telling someone to “find their passion” puts them in a situation where they may only consider opportunities they already know about. This is known as a fixed mindset.
If, instead, someone is told to “develop their passion,” they’re more likely to explore new ideas they don’t know much about. This is known as a growth mindset.
O’Keefe recently spoke to a reporter for the website Tonic about these two mindsets, and how they can make a difference in how we pursue new experience that could turn into career opportunities. “Think about all the things that we have to learn in the world — classes, new skills at work, or just things that make life meaningful,” O’Keefe says. “With a growth mindset, we can continue to develop new interests and seek connections between the core interests we currently have and the ones we’re developing.”
Being open to exploring new ideas – or having a growth mindset – not only makes life more interesting, says O’Keefe, but it also creates connections between what you know and like, and what you can explore.
For example, you might enjoy building things with your hands because you also like the math behind measuring how the elements of what you’re building will fit together. The “find your passion” fixed mindset might keep you from looking for connections to things you don’t know about and realizing there are careers and job opportunities that actually require these interests and skills to be successful. Professionals in the trades use these concepts every day.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Finding your passion can mean that you think it’s something inside you that’s just waiting to be revealed. It’s more likely that it’s something outside you that you’ll discover by investigating and connecting the dots between what you enjoy and careers that make use of those interests. In that case, developing your passion is going to give you more options, and more satisfaction.
One way to connect interests to possible career opportunities in the trades is to take this quiz.