The Truth About Finding Your PassionBy Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
At every big milestone, from graduations to athletic championships, we grew up hearing the advice that we must "find" our passion. And we weren’t alone. This was one of—if not the—most popular inspirational self-help phrases peddled to Millennials and Gen Xers.
There's only one problem: it's wrong. Very rarely do people just find their passion, or something that feels perfect from the outset. And expecting to only lessens the chance that you'll actually develop one, because you'll go from one activity or career to the next, searching for this illusory perfect fit. You'll get stuck being a seeker instead of a practitioner. The truth is that passions which are lasting are those that are developed over time. Better than trying to find your passion is to lower the bar and follow your interests.
Interest is really just another way of saying that something captures your attention. When you come across an activity or idea that subtly pulls you toward it, you are faced with a choice: Do you grant yourself permission to lean in and further explore? Or, do you let it go, ignoring it and writing it off as a momentary blip of intrigue? If you choose to ignore, you send a strong message—and one that quickly gets encoded in your brain—that the activity or idea carries little value. The next time you encounter something similar, your brain won’t send a signal for excitement; it will have already gotten the message that “there’s nothing to pursue here.” If, however, you engage during moments of initial intrigue, your brain will do the opposite, hardwiring a neural connection that says “it’s worth my energy and focus to pursue the things that interest me.” Interest is an invitation to exploration, inviting your attention toward activities that have the potential to grow into something greater. But that can only occur if you accept the invitation.
Unfortunately, far too often when a feeling of intrigue or curiosity arises, we simply let it go. In some cases, we tell ourselves that we’re too busy, quickly becoming distracted by our smartphones or the next item on our to-do list. Other times, we tell ourselves that wherever an initial spark of intrigue is leading must not be for us because it conflicts with our perceived identity; a form of resistance I couldn’t possibly do this syndrome. Common examples of I couldn’t possibly do this syndrome include: I went to and paid for business school, why should I be concerned with art? I’m a physician, not an essay writer. I’m 64 years old and I’ve never worked with my hands, why start now?
I couldn’t possibly do this syndrome only grows stronger with age. It also creates a formidable