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New Study Suggests That "Find Your Passion" Is Bad Career Advice


#1

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As Olga Khazan reports in The Atlantic, a new study by a pair of Stanford professors undermines the cliched notion that in choosing a career, we should follow what we’re “passionate” about. The study suggests that when it comes to careers, those who believe they should pursue a single dominant interest are less satisfied that those who are open to “growing into” a multitude of interests. Ultimately, writes Khazan, people who adopt a “growth theory” of interests seem happier and better at facing new challenges than people who adopt a “fixed theory” of interests. Here’s an excerpt:

The term “Follow your passion” has increased ninefold in English books since 1990. “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” is another college-counseling standby of unknown provenance.

But according to [Stanford professor Carol] Dweck and others, that advice is steering people wrong.

“What are the consequences of that?” asked Paul O’Keefe, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale—NUS College. “That means that if you do something that feels like work, it means you don’t love it.” He gave me the example of a student who jumps from lab to lab, trying to find one whose research topic feels like her passion. “It’s this idea that if I’m not completely overwhelmed by emotion when I walk into a lab, then it won’t be my passion or my interest.”

“What are the consequences of that?” asked Paul O’Keefe, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale—NUS College. “That means that if you do something that feels like work, it means you don’t love it.” He gave me the example of a student who jumps from lab to lab, trying to find one whose research topic feels like her passion. “It’s this idea that if I’m not completely overwhelmed by emotion when I walk into a lab, then it won’t be my passion or my interest.”

That’s why he and two co-authors—Dweck and Greg Walton of Stanford—recently performed a study that suggests it might be time to change the way we think about our interests. Passions aren’t “found,” they argue. They’re developed.

Image via the Atlantic.


#2

didnt work for me. too anxious in my passion to succeed. perform much better in tasks im naturally skilled at.