Passion is a word that is thrown around a lot. In one way or another, people present it as the elixir of life satisfaction or even ultimate life happiness. But really is it? I believe that the idea of a passion is a lie and that it is actually dangerous to believe in it. Passion is an illusion that drives us away from our true potential and leaves us clueless when circumstances change.
[caution: what follows is mainly my opinion and does not necessarily represent my employer. 🙄]
Why you will never find your passion
When people talk about passion, they almost always mentioned “that one thing” that somehow will absorb your attention while giving you happiness along the way. In fact, psychologists refer to this state as “flow” and it is both real and good. However, it is wrong to think that flow will (flow 😋) from a specific set of activities. It is just a simplistic assumption. You might very well enjoy some aciviity - say coding. You go and “write code” whenever you got spare time. Heck you even skip your classes to stay at your dorm and work on fun projects. However, don’t be fooled my friend. Chances are that current circumstances prime you to enjoy that activity, just like a professor can make you like a subject that you detested before and another professor can do the reverse. I don’t think there is such thing as helping someone “find their passion”; it is more like they provide you with an environment that allows you to enjoy learning that subject or doing that activity. The key is taking circumstances into account.
Ask yourself: under what circumstances are you willing to happily and joyfully keep doing that you deem as your passion? I have come to learn recently that circumstances do matter. As your environment, boss, resources, etc. change, the activities that bring you to flow will change as well. So, it is important not to fixate on one or really any set of “passions” that you might think you have.
Well Gee, what is the alternative?
I propose that switch to a more tangible realm: the theory of triggers. Triggers are simply the things that get you going. Look back to a time when you were so focused on the task at hand that nothing else seemed to matter except for achieving your goal. Now think about the elements that together formed this experience. What was there that kept you going, other than the nature of the task itself? For some people, it might be something as simple as being challenged by their manager and wanting to prove themselves. For others, it could be a mixture of interest, monetary motivation, or the prospect of a promotion. These triggers, however simple or complex they might be, are what keep you in the state of flow. You should always seek to replicate them if you want to live a productive life.
Those triggers won’t necessarily be simple to find, and they certainly won’t revolve around just one academic subject or a sport. The good news is: to find them, all you need to do is look around, analyze your current conditions and be aware of what it takes to make you happy and productive. It does take some effort to teach yourself to do so regularly. But the payoff is worth it. These triggers are what truly represents who we are as individuals. The sooner you find them and act to satisfy them, the more driven you will be in the long term.