Tristan talks about why passion and work don’t always mix. We always hear stories of people following their passion and finding this great success, but we never hear the stories of the people who follow their passions and fail. Listen to the full tip to hear what Tristan has to say on the subject.
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This tip was adapted from an article on NPR titled “It’s OK to not be passionate about your job” by Ruth Tam.
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Tristan: What’s going on, Living Corporate? It’s Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. Today, let’s talk about why passion and work don’t always mix.
One piece of career advice you may hear often is, “find a job you’re passionate about.” This was coined the “passion principle” by Sociologist Erin Cech, author of “The Trouble With Passion: How Searching for Fulfillment at Work Fosters Inequality.” It’s the idea that you should pursue passion in your career before fair compensation or job security.
We always hear stories of people following their passion and finding this great success, but we never hear the stories of the people who follow their passions and fail. While there’s nothing wrong with being fulfilled by your work, passion goes beyond that. There’s an expectation that you would do whatever it takes to advance your career, and to be able to do that requires a certain level of privilege. Low-income or first-gen college students are less likely to have the financial stability or social network to turn their passion into stable, gainful employment, while people from wealthier families are more likely to land stable jobs that align with their passions.
The other problem with passion is that employers can take advantage of it. Passionate people are more likely to work harder than those who aren’t personally tied to their work, but they aren’t really paid more. Companies hire passionate people because they believe those people will put in more work without requesting a pay increase.
Lastly, passion doesn’t necessarily guarantee better work. People who are passionate about their work are known for working long hours, but this conflation of passion with working overtime tends to lead to burnout, resentment, and eventually, resignation. This is all too common in professions like education, health care, social work, and nonprofits that prioritize passion and devotion to a shared mission.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if you are passionate about something, I definitely think it’s worth pursuing. But don’t let that passion blind you and keep you from setting boundaries about your work.
For those who have yet to find what they are passionate about, that’s okay. I genuinely believe this is where most people reside. Just remember that passion wasn’t always a priority for workers. In the 40s and 50s, the main piece of career advice was to find a stable job that supported you and your family. That era is proof that if you aren’t personally fulfilled by your job, it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of performing it well. It also doesn’t mean you can’t live a happy and fulfilled life. Just find things that excite you outside of your paid employment and figure out how you can invest time, energy, and attention into cultivating that passion.
This tip was adapted from an article on NPR titled “It’s OK to not be passionate about your job” by Ruth Tam and brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @layfieldresume, or connect with me, Tristan Layfield, on LinkedIn.