Stop Trying to Find Your Passion, Say Stanford Researchers — Do This Instead

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Offline Mohammad Mahedi Hasan

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They say that if you choose a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life. But how do you know you'll love a job before you do it? Worse, what if you take years working toward that job, only to find out that – oops! — you actually kind of hate it? This mode of thinking is all wrong, according to Stanford researchers. They've released a new study showing that finding your passion is harmful. Instead, it's all about developing your interests.

Passion Project

"Find your passion." That statement suggests that your passion is something that exists out there in the world, if only you could find it. There's another school of thought that says passion and interests are developed over time. These two ideas are what psychology researchers Paul O'Keefe, Carol Dweck, and Gregory Walton call the "fixed theory" and "growth theory" of interests.

If those terms sound familiar, that's because Carol Dweck is the psychologist behind the "growth mindset." This says that intelligence isn't a fixed trait (despite the beliefs of people with a "fixed mindset"), and instead can be improved. Although her research has seen some controversy in recent years, it says that children with a growth mindset tend to do better in school than those with a fixed mindset. In five experiments involving 470 college students, Dweck and the other researchers sought to find out if the same was true when it came to passion.

In the first two experiments, the researchers recruited students who identified themselves as a lover of either science and technology or arts and the humanities — a "techie" or a "fuzzy," to quote the Stanford vernacular. The researchers also had the participants fill out questionnaires to gauge their openness to experience (one of the Big Five personality traits) and, crucially, whether they had a fixed or growth attitude toward the concepts of passion and interests. All of the students read two articles — one about technology, the other about literature — then reported their level of interest in each. As you might expect, those with a fixed mindset were less interested in the article that was outside of their area of interest.

In another set of experiments, they had students watch a video from the Guardian's "made simple" series about Stephen Hawking's theory about black holes, then answer an online survey about how much it piqued their interest. Only those who agreed with the statement "What I learned about in the video was fascinating to me" went on to the next portion of the experiment: reading a dry academic article about black holes in the journal Science. One riveting selection: "The size of the horizon surrounding a nonrotating, uncharged black hole is characterized by the Schwarzschild radius, RS2GM●/c2, where G is Newton's constant of gravity, M● is the mass of the hole, and c is the speed of light." After reading the difficult article, the students' interest in black holes plummeted — and this was true most of all in the group of students with a fixed mindset.

Don't Find, Foster

The study showed that when you believe that passions and interests are fixed, you close yourself off from areas that might very well pique that interest. Even worse, if you think the day you find your passion is the day you leave difficulty behind, you're less likely to persevere through challenges — even if they're in your area of interest.

In this day and age, being able to connect many differing interests is as important as ever. "Many advances in sciences and business happen when people bring different fields together, when people see novel connections between fields that maybe hadn't been seen before," Gregory Walton said in a press release about the research. "If you are overly narrow and committed to one area, that could prevent you from developing interests and expertise that you need to do that bridging work."

Instead, stay open to anything that might interest you. Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" has made this his unofficial mantra. "People I've met on my journeys, by and large, didn't realize their dream. They looked around for an opportunity," he said in a video for Entrepreneur. "They identified the opportunity, they exploited the opportunity, they worked at the opportunity, and then they got good at the opportunity. And then they figured out how to love it. Do you have to have passion? Absolutely. Do you have to rely upon it to drive you? No."

Keep your eyes open for the next opportunity. And as Rowe says, "Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you."Source:Web
Mohammad Mahedi Hasan
Coordination Officer
Department of Public Health
Faculty of Allied Health Sciences
Daffodil International University
Cell: 01991195556