In 2018, I gave three talks to high school students titled, Finding Your Passion.
My message was clear: Don’t accept the pre-determined path. And use high school to apply yourself in lots of different things.
For high school students, that’s exactly what they need to hear, because often the system tries to walk you down a certain path if 1) not aware, and 2) haven’t tried other paths.
More and more, it’s difficult to go anywhere without hearing ‘find your passion’ or ‘follow your dreams’.
The reason I gave those talks was because I used to think I was someone who followed my passion (in the way you hear about it now) when I was 17 years old.
I didn’t stop the idea of becoming a lawyer because I’d magically stumbled upon a treasure chest of passion. I did so because I found what I was really good at - facilitating change through the physical body. Transformation.
Unknowingly at the time, it came from a lot of trial and error. It wasn’t that law was only for those who were too scared to break the system, it was that I didn’t find enjoyment in the aspects of a law career I’d specifically seen. (I’d interned in 4-5 firms in London, Germany and Mumbai). Whereas I found a lot of fulfilment in transformation. I was just lucky I stumbled across it early. The fact I had so many hobbies, studied a broad variety of subjects, and had diverse friends of different backgrounds, probably helped speed up this process.
For adults, my advice now is different.
It’s to think of this as an ongoing discovery, not a result. There’s a myth that ‘passionate careers’ are only for those outside of the typical finance, insurance, accountancy and law sectors. But that’s a fallacy. I know plenty of people in these sectors who absolutely love what they do.
It’s not the sector. It’s the process of work. You don’t find your passion in a sector. You find it in the work.
Here’s a better way:
If you’re working in a job you think you don’t like, maybe it's because the specific work you're doing now is not fun. Maybe it’s because you haven’t found meaning in the work. Maybe the perspective is wrong. Maybe the people around you aren’t thinking on the same page.
Your best and most passionate work will always be a form of self-expression. That lies in the process, not the sector, title or salary. Any job can be a calling if it aligns with your flow. Maybe instead of quitting your day job, your best move is to find a different role within the company. Same sector, different work. Maybe that work is what will give you an opportunity to be better, allow more autonomy, contribute to something more meaningful. Maybe it's simply changing the way you think about the work.
Next time someone tells you to go on a Lord of the Rings type search for a treasure chest of passion, look the other way. You might be closer to it than you think.
Oh, and when you are doing your most passionate work, life doesn’t suddenly become sunshine and rainbows. That's another myth worth busting another day.