Don’t Search for Your Passion. Instead, Become So Good They Can’t Ignore You
I spent a lot of the past decade thinking about what I want.
Thinking about what I love doing… about what I find fulfilling… about what my true passion is. It felt like most important thing to discover in my entire life.
After all, if I was going to be spending my time and my career on something, it better be something I’m passionate about right? Especially since I was in the luxurious position where I actually have the choice to pick anything I want as my job.
If there’s one thing I learned over all those years, however, it’s that you don’t find your passion by thinking about it.
The first time this realisation came was after watching this 2,5 minute video by Tom Bilyeu:
As Tom explains in the video, “one of the greatest misconceptions of our time is that your passion is something hidden inside of you”.
Passions are created, constructed, developed. And they start with interest.
I thought I understood what Tom was trying to say when I first watched the video. But I didn’t truly understand it until I read the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.
Letting go of your passion mindset 👋
In the book, Cal argues that ‘follow your passion’ is generally bad advice. Instead, he says your passion will follow in your pursuit of becoming so good they can’t ignore you.
The way to become so good they can’t ignore you is by building rare and valuable skills.
That doesn’t mean you just pick one skill and become crazy good at it. Your journey will undoubtedly feel a lot more messy than that. It will require experimentation and trying stuff out.
But you have to let go of the idea of finding your passion. The idea that this magical job out there somewhere, where your unique skill set, personality and demand all overlap. Where you feel fulfilled and ultimately happy.
If you keep this mindset, you’re likely never going to be happy in your career.
“The problem, of course, is when they fail to find this certainty, bad things follow, such as chronic job-hopping and crippling self-doubt.” – Cal Newport
When I first read this quote in the book, I could relate. I tried out a lot of different careers, in part because I was trying to find the perfect one.
But I know now that it doesn’t exist 🤷
The only way to “find” the perfect career – one that I’m truly passionate about –is by creating it myself. Not searching for it.
In other words, I had to let go of my passion mindset (‘what can the world offer me?’) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (‘what can I offer the world?’).
That simple realisation has changed the entire way I look at my career.
Journey to the cutting edge 🗺️📍
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about wanting to get to the cutting edge of my field.
In the book, Cal argues that once you arrive at the cutting edge, you’ll find purpose and fulfilment in your work. But to get there, you’ll need to put in the work first and develop rare and valuable skills.
When you look at your career in this way, it’s much easier to make decisions on how to spend your time.
That’s because you no longer have to make your decisions based on money, or what’s a good business idea, or what might make you happiest. No, you now make your decisions based on how you can learn the most in a particular field.
Once you’ve learned enough to get to the cutting edge, that’s when you’ll have something to offer to the world that gives you control and autonomy.
In turn, you’ll likely be able to get the amount of money you want. You’ll likely be able to come up with a great new business idea. And you’ll likely feel happy and fulfilled, because well, we tend to like what we’re good at.
For me, this means that I’ve decided that I want to get to the cutting edge of how to teach online. That includes VR, gamification, the metaverse… you name it. And I’m excited to see where it will lead.
Reaching your own ‘cutting edge’ ⭐
If you’re reading this and you feel like ‘I want to get to the cutting edge as well’, let me give you a few points of advice that might help.
1️⃣ Let go of the passion mindset entirely; trust that passion will find you instead
2️⃣ Pick something that you’re interested in and DON’T overthink it
3️⃣ Experiment, but keep building on the skills you already have, rather than starting from zero over and over.
If you feel like you’re stuck at the last one, you might want to think about which mindset you’ve truly adopted. The passion mindset or the craftsman mindset?
Until recently, I had always rejected creating online courses as my career. To me, it was a thing I did on the side “to survive”. Instead, I was looking for my passion in other careers. But as I got better at developing online courses, and even created my own style, I started noticing how quickly the days flew by. How much I couldn’t wait to get started after I woke up, because I was so into a project. It was hard to stop working. I felt in flow.
Without realising it, I had found something I loved doing. Something I’m passionate about. Something I wasn’t passionate about at all when I first started. I was just interested in it.
I hope that you’ll find your ‘something’ too.
I hope that you’ll develop it 💪