Existential Friday Newsletter

v11: What If “Follow Your Passion” Is Bad Advice?

The notion that you should “follow your passion” is an internet sensation.  The popularity shouldn’t be at all surprising considering most people want to do what they want and they simultaneously feel discontent.

Even though passion is the career advice pretty girl, there are some detractors.  Cal Newport was an early detractor.  He suggests that rather than following a passion, you should seek excellence and find passion through the process of improving.

Carol Dweck recently co-authored a paper that tied passion into her previous work on growth mindset.  She found that students with a growth mindset about passion and interests were better equipped to handle career adversity.

One of the biggest challenges with the idea of finding your passion is that it’s a very unnerving task.  What if you think you’re following your passion and you’re not?  What if you’re wrong? What if you can’t tolerate the years it takes to achieve mastery or you’re just not cut out for it?

It’s much easier to fail at something you don’t like than something you’re “passionate” about.  Dweck’s paper provides some comfort.  We can all find common themes and pivot.

Here’s the summary

And this is the full paper

At the end of the day following your passion probably falls somewhere on a spectrum between absolute truth and total BS.  The spectrum probably looks something like this:

Career Passion Spectrum


This link is unrelated.  It’s for those of you who love classic rock and want to know what your favorite bad says about you.

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