My dream job... (Don't) follow your passion

Last updated 05:00 11/10/2012

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First things first, I am by no means in my dream job. In fact, my current occupation status sadly reads "unemployed". But it's not quite as bad as it sounds.

My husband and I recently chose to move to China, where he got a job that will ultimately advance his career, and where we can live in a completely different environment for a few years. This, of course, meant giving up my job and rethinking my career options. Fortunately, I had a positive outlook and thought, "Yeah now I can change careers and pick something completely different!"

Like many others out there, the first thing I did was go online and fill out several self-assessment quizzes (as if my destiny could easily be calculated by how I answer questions such as "Do I like working with people?" or "Do I like working in the outdoors?"). This process was closely followed by going online and reading numerous blogs and websites all advocating the same concept - follow your passion. Great! What a solid concept! Figure out what it is you really love doing and find a career that matches it.

Well, with a bit more investigating, it turns out this is very bad advice. I would recommend anyone else thinking along these lines to read Cal Newport's book titled So Good They Can't Ignore You. He breaks down the theory of following your passion and describes why it doesn't work. Using a series of case studies, including how Steve Jobs became successful, he suggests a more pragmatic and realistic approach for those searching for a career or looking to try something new (as in my case).

I won't go into the details but what I took from Cal Newport is that not everyone has a specific passion that can be turned into a career (I, myself, don't feel particularly more passionate about any one thing over another).

The whole process of figuring out what to do is a little more complicated than just "following your passion", and, as much as people will hate to hear this, it instead involves planning and A LOT of hard work.

So, my advice is don't just up and quit your job (unless, like the book suggests, you are a tax consultant). Instead, whatever you do, or want to do with your career, just be "so good they can't ignore you" and then the sky's the limit.

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