Updated: Jan 22, 2020
"Follow you passion" has been a common refrain in the last decade. I'm sure you have heard the statement often attributed to Confucius, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." While it may make a great yearbook quote or inspirational poster, I am not sure it is good advice when it come to choosing a college major and future career. Sure, it would be great to love what we do so much that we don't even recognize it as "work," but is that just wishful thinking? Yes and no.
I love cycling. Having started later in life (age 40!), I learned to love the difficult uphill climbs in my mountain town because they were followed by some amazing runs down the mountains. My husband is even more passionate about cycling, haven taken me to see the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris (that won me over) and chase other various cycling races all over Europe. Should he give up his day job to pursue his passion? I don't think so. The statistical likelihood of my husband putting food on the table for our family of 5 by pursuing a professional cycling career is very low (sorry honey). Of course, we are old enough to recognize that fact, but many young people are not.
I once saw a billboard in New York City that said, "Millennials; over educated,
underpaid, and hopelessly optimistic." Truer words have never been said. Young people are optimistic by nature, but also naive. My 14 year old son may love basketball and want to pursue a career in the NBA, but I need to let him know that playing rec league ball and coaching his son's basketball team one day would be a more appropriate (and realistic) use of this "passion."
The truth is, kids don't have enough experience to "choose a job they love." Mark Cuban, successful businessman and host of Shark Tanks offers this advice, "When you work hard at something you become good at it, when you become good at something you enjoy doing it more, when you enjoy doing something, there is a good chance you will become passionate about it." With any field you pursue, the only way to achieve excellence (and love your job as a result) is to invest a lot of time doing it. Obviously we will enjoy doing things we are good at. Each student has unique interests and aptitudes that will make some subjects and tasks more interesting than others. Pursuing careers in these areas of interest makes perfect sense. But, don't expect "love at first sight." Put in the work, see the results, and you may find that are actually passionate about the career you have chosen.