May 9, 2013

Everyone else seems to be following their "passion."

"Assume I have no such passion. Furthermore, I am a fairly well-qualified young generalist. What paths should most appeal to me if my goal is to maximize doing 'interesting' work? Doing meaningful work? Achieving social status? (Which of these goals should be primary?) Need I try to develop a passion before selecting a life path/career, and if so, how do I do it?"

43 comments:

Mark O said...

If you need to "develop" a passion, you have even larger problems.

Pogo said...

Perfect guy for a government job.

And if he doesn't mind a few dead bodies here and there, a clear State Dept. employee.

Farmer said...

"The world needs ditch diggers, too."

- Judge Smails

Tibore said...

"2) Assume I have no such passion. Furthermore, I am a fairly well-qualified young generalist.* What paths should most appeal to me if my goal is to maximize doing "interesting" work? Doing meaningful work? Achieving social status? (Which of these goals should be primary?) Need I try to develop a passion before selecting a life path/career, and if so, how do I do it?"

Oh my God, Max! Why infantilize yourself? Do you really need third party advice on that sort of question?

Seeking advice is helpful when you're after something specific, but when it's a question of how to cast about for what you want to do with your life, you're being way too passive. That sounds less like you know you're ready for the real world and more like you're asking Daddy to tell you what to do.

Seek advice, yes, but for God's sake, do it in a way to where you're in control of things. Don't do it in a silly, pseudo-existential "Now What?" way. Even Pinocchio had more gumption and drive than you in trying to become A Real Boy.

Scott said...

Do something you think you might like. Then, if you find that you don't like it, do something else.

This is not rocket science.

carrie said...

It used to be that people took pride, and found fulfillment, in being able to support their family and viewed a job as just a means to that end. However, when you have minimized the importance, or even the idea, of family, then I guess that only leaves doing something that pleases you, which isn't a very strong drive and which might explain the poor work ethic of many young people today.

Sorun said...

Just the musings of an early 20-something. I was 37 when I stumbled upon my career "passion."

cubanbob said...

I hope for his sake his parents paid for education otherwise he needs to focus on the here and now and get a job.

Dave D said...

This is the stuff that NPR worries about? "Passion" in most cultures is survival and shelter. Entitled, much? Also, who has this much time to "find" themselves without having to pay back the student loans?

Freeman Hunt said...

I think Tyler Cowen is right that this is a central question of our time. I also think that school, the way it is currently done, contributes to this. Bright minds are encouraged to become experts not in a hobby or a subject, but in school, the system of school. Then school ends!

(Cross-posted on Facebook. I want to see what people say over there.)

Dave D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Imagine yourself in an isolated village in Europe of the 1100's. As a member of that village, you need food, shelter. You are not a farmer, you are not a builder. How will you get it?

Develop a skill, produce something that farmers and builders are willing to trade for.

It's the same today. To not be a leach on society, to earn your keep, you must develop a skill that someone is willing to pay you to do.

Conscious of the inviolable law of supply and demand, pick one. Do it. And feel good about your self-supporting self.

Freeman Hunt said...

Of course, there are some people who practically seem to be born with a passion. My husband, for example, has always wanted to do the same thing, so his career path was obvious.

Freeman Hunt said...

(Well, perhaps the actual path wasn't obvious, but the destination was.)

Freeman Hunt said...

One element of being an expert at the system of school is showing enthusiasm for ideas like "Follow your passion."

Mitchell the Bat said...

I'd advise going to law school.

Pogo said...

Well, try not to develop a passion for using your basement for sex slaves.

Dr Weevil said...

Will this help explain it? Many years ago (30?) I read an article in some then-respectable newspaper (perhaps the Washington Post) about wife-swappers: the kind who have a totally organized system for swapping partners at specified intervals in clearly-defined ways. A sociologist had studied them for years, trying to find the common denominator in their unusual and not-very-erotic lifestyle. The only thing he could find that they had in common besides the wife-swapping was they had no hobbies.

Pogo said...

At least no one says "follow your bliss" anymore.
I hated that stupid phrase.

Passion can be evil as well. The Boston bombers were passionate.

I don't care much for passion. Work is a necessity. Doing what you like is a luxury. Welfare made work unnecessary, so kids think they have to desire their work.

They don't lack passion anyway.
They lack purpose and meaning.
Religion used to provide that in spades.
Now they're all atheists and agnostics and don't know why they're here or what difference it makes.

Passion is the least of their problems.

Freeman Hunt said...

"They lack purpose and meaning.
Religion used to provide that in spades.
Now they're all atheists and agnostics and don't know why they're here or what difference it makes."

This too.

Lem said...

I took a test in Massachusetts when I was in Jr High school there...

It recommended baseball manager.

gerry said...

Well, try not to develop a passion for using your basement for sex slaves.

I don't think that pays well, either.

Oso Negro said...

Max doubtless grew up being encouraged to "follow his passion." Passion is over-rated. Max should focus instead on being a productive, contributing member of society. In the long run he will feel just fine about himself.

Oso Negro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AprilApple said...

Americans are spoiled and decadent. Get to work. Not everyone has a passion.
Actually - go off and travel to a poor 3rd world nation and learn to understand how easy you have it in plastic hello-kitty video game shiny object plump-land.

bagoh20 said...

When I was fresh out of college, I didn't know what I wanted to do either, but I had plenty of passions. I wish I could just give this guy one, because I have far too many for one lifetime, and that's the biggest disappointment of life. It's just too short to learn all you want, to get proficient in all you want, and to do all you want in just a handful of decades. If I lived to 500 years, I would never get bored. I have no understanding of or ability to empathize with this person. Shit! Now that's one more thing I need to work on.

bagoh20 said...

Maybe he could become a life coach.

creeley23 said...

Need I try to develop a passion before selecting a life path/career, and if so, how do I do it?

Sounds like Max should just burrow into some disability entitlement and devote himself to streaming "Daria" episodes.

cubanbob said...

Abolish welfare and subsidies and our boy Max will find himself very passionate about getting a job.

bagoh20 said...

The tests I took always indicated I was best suited to become a scientist of various kinds, and I always loved science, so I expected that was what I would become. I still want to be a scientist, or a park ranger. I don't know who has been running the drone controls on my mind all these years, but apparently, they left for lunch long ago and just let me wander.

Balfegor said...

The answer, obviously, is that he should go to law school. That's what indifferently intelligent aimless young people of means usually do.

Palladian said...

...The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand...

Pogo said...

One word: Plastics.

edutcher said...

Follow your passion is like the old 60s thing of go with your gut.

No, use your brain - that's why god gave you one.

Going with your passion is a good thing only if people like what you do as much as you do.

If not, "Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip
Mum mum mum mum mum mum
Get a job Sha na na na, sha na na na na".

Mick Havoc said...

When I was Max's age I was passionate about being a rock star or a Grand Prix driver.
They didn't seem to have to work too hard, led lives full of glamour, travel and SEX.
However I lacked the talent for the former and the financial means for the latter.

So I got a government job.

Now I am retired, drive fast cars and motorcycles and play guitar all day.

tiger said...

To be honest this I have been asking myself the same question for the past 40 years and have never found an answer.

And now it's too late.

Larry J said...

You can save your passion for your hobbies. Get some marketable job skills and find someone who is willing to pay you. Learn more skills and adapt to the inevitable changes that'll come your way during a working lifetime*. Apply the lessons learned from one job to your next job. Keep growing and learning.

*I'm 56. Every day, I work with technologies and concepts that didn't exist when I graduated high school in 1975. The world is a different place and will be different in 10 years from what it is now. If you can't adapt to the changes, you'll find yourself not only unemployed but unemployable.

Shanna said...

I took a test in Massachusetts when I was in Jr High school there...

I took one of those too. I think it said I should be a gardener. I am doing good to remember to water my office plant.

Shanna said...

And now it's too late.

I don't think it's too late. That's what hobbies are for. You get bored, learn a lanaguage, learn to cook, learn guitar, pick up tennis....you're sure to find something you enjoy.

OTOH, maybe your passion is laying in a hammock reading a book.

TosaGuy said...

The words passion and amazing should be stricken from modern conversation.

They are as annoying as the words like and yeah.

"your passion, yeah, is like so amazing!"

The Godfather said...

"Putting the wrong question is unlikely to yield the right answer . . . " "Passion" is not the thing to look for in picking a job or career. Pick a spouse or a lover that way, but not a job.

kentuckyliz said...

Have the lad get in touch with me.

MPH said...

The two blogs I read every day - Althouse and Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution.