Follow Your Passion: Good Career Advice?

Career Advice

You’ve probably heard someone give you career advice like “follow your passion,” and you’ll find a career you’ll love. Maybe you’ve seen those words on a poster in the career office. As words of wisdom go, they sound good, even a little inspiring. But we’ve also heard of passionate dreamers who quit their jobs to become artists or drive cross country, only to end up broke.

Mike Rowe has a contrarian point of view when it comes to work. The host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel gave a TED Talk last year in which he argues that “blue collar workers, the people who make life possible for the rest of us, are unjustifiably degraded in society today,” even though they tend to be among the happiest.

“Follow your passion . . . what could possibly go wrong with that?” asks Rowe. “Probably the worst advice I ever got.”

He uses his talk to point out that plumbers, shepherds, and pig farmers do not take on those difficult jobs because it’s their life’s purpose. Commenting on Rowe’s talk at the Huffington Post, Cal Newport writes: “The pig farmer is not happy because he was born with a pig farmer gene, or because he grew up feeling a deep pre-existing passion for pork. He's instead happy because he's making a great living, has tons of autonomy, and does work that's useful to the world (he raises his pigs on food scraps from nearby casinos that would otherwise go to waste).”

In other words, stop worrying that your job doesn’t match your passion. Instead, find ways to make yourself more useful, and then you’ll find plenty of job satisfaction.

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Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to choosing a degree program, passion is very important. Don’t enroll in a program because you think it might help you find a job. When you enroll in a university, you commit yourself to at least a couple years of study. So if you’re going to stay motivated and keep working toward your goal of graduation, then you should study a subject that really moves you. Study what you love, and you’ll learn more. And who knows? You may discover some hidden talent that you could follow into a future career.

Written by Michael Mussman
Michael is Editor of Forward Thinking, the Ashford University blog.

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